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Understanding Gynaecological Cancer
September 25, 2023

The month of September shines a spotlight on an important health concern that affects women around the world – gynaecological cancer. With the aim of raising awareness, promoting early detection, and supporting women in their journey, Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month serves as a rallying point for individuals, organisations, and communities.

In this article, we delve into the significance of understanding these cancers, their symptoms, and the critical role of early detection. We also look at how initiatives such as Move More September and organisations like Mumby’s are making a positive impact.

The 5 gynaecological cancers

Gynaecological cancers are cancers that start in the female reproductive system.

The five main types are cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. They often exhibit subtle symptoms that may be overlooked or attributed to other causes. By raising awareness of these cancers, we empower women to recognise potential warning signs and seek timely medical attention.

The statistics surrounding gynaecological cancers support the urgency of awareness and early detection. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, approximately 1.4 million new cases of cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar cancers were diagnosed globally in 2020.

Alarmingly, over 700,000 women lost their lives to these cancers in the same year. These numbers emphasise the need for proactive efforts to combat these diseases.

Types of gynaecological cancer

Gynaecological cancers encompass a range of conditions that affect the female reproductive system. Each type of cancer originates in different parts of the reproductive tract, highlighting the complexity of these diseases.

Cervical cancer affects the cervix, the narrow passage between the uterus and the vagina.
Ovarian cancer arises in the ovaries, vital organs that produce eggs and hormones.
Uterine cancer emerges in the lining of the uterus
Vaginal cancer occurs in the canal connecting the uterus to the outside of the body.
Vulvar cancer affects the external genitalia.

Despite their differences, these cancers share the common thread of impacting women’s health and underpin the urgency of awareness and proactive healthcare.

Symptoms of gynaecological cancers

Understanding the symptoms of gynaecological cancers is paramount for early intervention. While each type may present differently, some general symptoms to be vigilant about include:

      • Cervical cancer: Abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, and pain during intercourse.

      • Ovarian cancer: Bloating, abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, and frequent urination.

      • Uterine cancer: Abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, and pain during intercourse.

      • Vaginal cancer: Abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain during intercourse, and changes in bowel habits.

      • Vulvar cancer: Itching, pain, changes in skin colour, and lumps.

    Empowering women with knowledge about these symptoms equips them to take action and seek medical advice promptly.

    Early detection matters

    Early detection can significantly impact the prognosis and outcomes of gynaecological cancers. Regular screenings, self-examinations, and open conversations with healthcare providers are important in identifying these cancers at an early, more treatable stage.

    Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month serves as a reminder to prioritise routine screenings and health check-ups.

    The significance of early detection in the battle against gynaecological cancers cannot be overstated. Regular screenings, self-examinations, and attentive monitoring of your body’s signals can be life-saving.

    Take an active role in your health journey in being attuned to your body and promptly address any unusual symptoms.

    A routine check-up or a visit to your healthcare provider can make all the difference. Remember, knowledge is power. Having a proactive approach can lead to early intervention, more effective treatments, and a higher chance of successful recovery.

    Helpful statistics about gynaecological cancers

        • Cervical cancer: In females in the UK, cervical cancer is the 14th most common cancer, with around 3,200 new cases every year, which is nearly 9 every day (2016-2018). Around 1 in 2 (51.2%) women diagnosed with cervical cancer in England survive their disease for ten years or more (2013-2017)*. It is most frequently diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and 44. However, cervical cancer is highly preventable with proper screening and HPV vaccination.

        • Ovarian cancer: In females in the UK, ovarian cancer is the 6th most common cancer, with around 7,500 new cases every year, that’s 21 every day (2016-2018)*. It often goes undetected until it has progressed to an advanced stage, leading to its high mortality rate. Ovarian cancer is most commonly diagnosed in women over 50, with the median age at diagnosis being 63.

        • Uterine cancer: In females in the UK, uterine cancer is the 4th most common cancer, with around 9,700 new cases every year, that’s 27 every day (2016-2018)*. Uterine cancer is the most eighth common gynaecological cancer and is primarily linked to hormonal imbalances, especially excess oestrogen. The majority of cases occur in postmenopausal women.

        • Vaginal cancer: Vaginal cancer is relatively rare. In females in the UK, vaginal cancer is not among the 20 most common cancers, with around 250 new cases every year, that’s around 5 every week (2016-2018)*. It is most commonly diagnosed in women over 60. Due to its rarity, there are fewer comprehensive statistics available, emphasising the need for continued awareness and research.

        • Vulvar cancer: In females in the UK, vulval cancer is not among the 20 most common cancers, with around 1,400 new cases every year, which is nearly 4 every day (2016-2018)*. It mainly affects older women, with the median age at diagnosis being 70. While it is a relatively rare cancer, its impact on the quality of life can be substantial, underscoring the importance of early detection and effective treatment.

      Move More September

      Move More September is an initiative that harnesses the power of physical activity to raise funds for cancer research. Encouraging individuals to “Move More” throughout September aligns perfectly with the goals of Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month.

      The Foundation For Women’s Cancer leads the way in the US, inviting people to participate in Move More September and culminating in the “Let’s Move It” virtual celebration on September 25th. This event not only promotes physical well-being but also contributes to the advancement of gynaecological cancer research.

      The UK’s contribution to Gynaecological Cancer Awareness

      The UK also plays a vital role in Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month. Events throughout September, supported by organisations like Jo’s Trust, spotlight the importance of raising awareness about cervical cancer.

      Jo’s Trust, the UK’s leading cervical cancer charity, amplifies the conversation around cervical cancer, offering resources, guidance, and support to those impacted by the disease.

      Mumby’s support for women with gynaecological cancers

      Mumby’s is committed to raising awareness about women’s health issues. Through participation in awareness campaigns and educational initiatives, Mumby’s demonstrates their dedication to making a tangible difference in the fight against gynaecological cancers.

      You can read some of Mumby’s articles about gynaecological cancers, such as ‘How to manage and care for advanced-stage cervical cancer’ and ‘How to help a loved one with ovarian cancer’.

      At Mumby’s, we understand the emotional and practical challenges that you may be going through. We offer compassionate cancer live-in care and practical support for you to live a good quality lifestyle in the comfort of your home and surrounded by the people and things you love.

      Contact us for a free, informal chat.


      *Cancer Research UK