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  • Writer's pictureKaren Crudden

Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month

September is gynaecological cancer awareness month, I certainly didn't know the symptoms of these cancers until I got in the field of women's health. Take a read ladies.

There are five gynaecological cancers – vulva, vagina, cervical, womb and ovarian and awareness, but most importantly the signs to look out for of these cancers is very low.

Each year in the UK

Over 21,000 women are diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer each year in the UK

That means > 58 people each day are diagnosed

21 of these women die a day from a gynaecological cancer

Increasing awareness of signs and symptoms will hopefully help women see their G.P sooner but also physios and other health professionals we can as well identify ‘red flags’ when assessing and listening to our patients story to help ensure the right investigations are carried out.

The eve appeal is doing fantastic things raising awareness and a source of reliable information looking at the five gynaecological cancers in depth.

Vulva Cancer Symptoms

  • A lasting itch

  • Pain or soreness

  • Thickened, raised, red, white or dark patches on the skin of the vulva

  • An open sore or growth visible on the skin

  • A mole on the vulva that changes shape or colour

  • A lump or swelling in the vulva

Vagina Cancer Symptoms

20 per cent of women diagnosed with vaginal cancer have no symptoms at all.

Although many early-stage cancers do not have indicative signs, some possible symptoms include:

  • Unexpected bleeding, eg. between periods, after menopause or after sex

  • Vaginal discharge that smells or may be blood stained

  • Vaginal pain during sexual intercourse

  • A vaginal lump or growth that you or your doctor can feel

  • A vaginal itch that won’t go away and pain when urinating

  • Persistent pelvic and vaginal pain

Cervical Cancer Symptoms

The symptoms of cervical cancer aren’t always obvious, it may not cause any symptoms at all until it’s reached an advanced stage. Some women do not experience any signs of cervical cancer at all.

This is why it’s very important that you attend all of your cervical screening appointments.

Unusual bleeding

In most cases, vaginal bleeding is the first of the cervical cancer symptoms to be noticeable. It often occurs after having sex.

Bleeding at any other time, other than your expected monthly period, is also considered unusual, this also includes bleeding after the menopause.

Other symptoms

Other signs of cervical cancer may include pain and discomfort during sex and an unpleasant smelling vaginal discharge.

The majority of women with these symptoms do not have cervical cancer, and more likely to be experiencing other conditions, such as infections, but if you have any of these symptoms, it is important to get them checked out.

Womb Cancer Symptoms

The most common symptom of womb cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding – especially for women who have been through the menopause. Around 90% of endometrial cancer diagnoses are reported due to post-menopausal or irregular vaginal bleeding.

Please note though that most people with abnormal bleeding will not have a gynaecological cancer, but it is important to get checked out, just in case it is, and womb cancer when diagnosed early is often curable.

This irregular bleeding might be:

  • Vaginal bleeding after the menopause

  • Bleeding between periods

  • Bleeding that is unusually heavy

  • Vaginal discharge – from blood-stained to a light or dark brown

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often the same as for other less serious conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), can make it difficult to recognize the symptoms in the early stages – which is why most women are not diagnosed until the disease has spread.

There are four main ovarian cancer symptoms that are more prevalent in women diagnosed with the condition.

  • Increased abdominal size and persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)

  • Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain

  • Unexplained change in bowel habits

  • Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly, or feeling nauseous


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