As I’ve mentioned before, this month is Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month, so I’m spreading the word here at Twins in Trainers in the hope that it may help the cause! I’ve already written about cervical cancer and the importance of cervical screening, so if you missed it, be sure to check it out here.
Next up, I wanted to discuss the other gynae cancers women should be aware of as worryingly The Eve Appeal survey showed that 20% of women aged 46- 55 thought that some of the main symptoms of gynaecological cancer were normal for their age. Even more worryingly, 71% of people surveyed had actually experienced symptoms of gynaecological cancer. This shows just how important it is to raise awareness to ensure these cancers are picked up early.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER GYNAECOLOGICAL CANCERS?
Including cervical cancer which I’ve already talked about, there are five main gynae cancers:
- Endometrial (womb) cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Vulval Cancer (outside part of genitalia)
- Vaginal Cancer
- Cervical Cancer
I’m not going into huge amounts of detail about each type cancer as the most important thing is to know how to spot them- less is more if you like. However, if you want to read in more detail about each cancer then patient.co.uk has some great condition leaflets, so check them out!
So, here are the most common symptoms of each gynae cancer. Remember, that most people who have these symptoms will not be found to have a serious underlying problem, but it’s essential that you get them checked out, just to be sure. ENDOMETRIAL CANCER
This is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and unfortunately is becoming more and more common.
- Vaginal bleeding after the menopause
- Vaginal bleeding between periods.
Ovarian cancer can be hard to diagnose as the symptoms are similar to other common conditions. This means that it’s often picked up late by which time the disease has often spread. Fortunately, if it’s picked up early it can be treated before it gets to this stage.
- persistent pelvic and abdominal pain
- increased abdominal size or persistent bloating- not bloating that comes and goes
- difficulty eating and feeling full quickly
- needing to pass urine more often than normal.
Before I became a doctor I’m sure I had no idea that you could get cancer of the vulva. It’s just not something you think about, is it? It’s quite rare to be honest, and with the new HPV vaccine it should become even rarer as it protects against the disease. However, it still happens and we still need to know about it.
- a lasting itch or pain or soreness of the vulva
- thickened, raised, red, white or dark patches on the skin of the vulva
- an open sore or growth visible on the skin
- burning pain when you pass urine
- vaginal discharge or bleeding
- a mole on the vulva that changes shape or colour
- a lump or swelling in the vulva
Even rarer than vulval cancer is vaginal cancer. I’ve never seen a case of it in real life which isn’t surprising as there’s only 250 new cases in the UK each year. It’s mostly diagnosed in women over 60.
- Bleeding when you are not having a period or bleeding after the menopause- this is the
most common symptom.
- Vaginal discharge that smells or is blood stained
- Pain during sex or bleeding after sex.
- A lump or growth in the vagina
- A vaginal itch that won’t go away
As you can see, the different cancers have lots of symptoms in common, so the only way to find out what’s going on is to see your GP who can arrange further investigations.
If you’ve found this helpful, I’d love you to spread the message- The Eve Appeal is encouraging people to use #TimeToOpenUp across social media channels, so feel free to share this post so we can educate as many women as possible!
Thank you in advance,
Thanks to the Eve Appeal for providing the statistics and supporting information for this post.