Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month
September is Gynaecological cancer awareness month. If you've been diagnosed with any of these cancer types – womb, ovarian, vaginal or vulva, or just want to be aware of symptoms. Macmillan can help.
For Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions to give you the support you need.
Gynaecological cancer - Frequently Asked Questions
If you have questions or concerns about gynaecological cancer, you are not the only one. We answer some of the most often asked questions about gynaecological cancer here.
Symptoms of gynaecological cancer vary depending on the type of cancer. If you have any symptoms, it is important to get them checked out by your GP.
Usually, the first sign of womb cancer is unusual vaginal bleeding. For example, this could be:
- bleeding after the menopause (this is the most common symptom)
- bleeding between periods
- heavier period than usual (if you have not been through the menopause)
- a bloody or pink and water vaginal discharge
Less common symptoms are pain or discomfort in the pelvic area, or pain during sex.
If you have any unusual vaginal bleeding, always see your GP about it. Other conditions that affect the womb, such as fibroids, can also cause unusual vaginal bleeding.
Read our information on womb cancer.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are similar to other much more common and less serious conditions. This can make I difficult to diagnose early. Symptoms can include a swollen tummy and pain in the back or lower tummy.
Common symptoms of cervical cancer include:
- heavier periods than you normally have
- vaginal bleeding between periods, after sex, or after menopause
If you get between your regular cervical screening appointments, do not wait for your next appointment. Talk to your GP or practice nurse and get the symptoms checked.
Read our information about symptoms of cervical cancer.
Symptoms of Symptoms of vulval cancer can include burning when passing urine and a sore or ulcerated area of the vulva. We have more information about all the symptoms of vulval cancer.
The most common symptoms of vaginal cancer are:
- bleeding after menopause, between periods, or after sex
- blood-stained vaginal discharge
- pain when peeing (passing urine), needing to pee often, or blood in your pee
- pain the pelvic (lower tummy) area
- feeling you need to poo, even though you have just been (tenesmus)
- swelling in your legs.
These symptoms can be caused by many other conditions. But if you notice any of them, it is important to see your GP.
Cancer screening tests are used to find people who may have cancer or who may need treatment or monitoring to prevent cancer from developing.
The UK has 3 screening programmes. This includes cervical screening. Currently there are no screening programmes for other gynaecological cancers.
A cervical screening is a way of preventing cervical cancer (cancer of the cervix). The main risk factor for cervical cancer is an infection called the human papilloma virus (HPV).
Read more information about cervical screening including who should get a screening and when you may be invited to have one
The treatment you will receive depends on many factors including:
- type of cancer you have
- your general health
- the type and size of the tumour
- whether the cancer has begun to spread.
A team of specialists will talk about the best treatment for you. They are called a multidisciplinary team.
Cancer and its treatment can cause physical and emotional changes that may affect your sex life.
You may also have changes to your body and appearance such as scars or hairloss. Other changes may not be obviously visible to others. For example, treatment effects such as infertility or menopause. This can affect your body image and make you feel vulnerable about your body.
Your nurse can give you more advice. You can ask your GP or practice nurse any questions you have and let them know if you have any concerns. They will be able to reassure you.