What you need to know about Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month (GCAM)

Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month is held every year during the month of September to raise awareness about gynaecological cancers and promote education, early detection and prevention.

Gynaecological cancers are cancers that affect the reproductive organs in women, including the cervix, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and vulva.

The main goals of Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month are to:

Raise awareness.

The campaign aims to inform the public about the different types of gynaecological cancers, their risk factors, symptoms and the importance of early detection.

Promote education.

Education is key to empowering individuals to understand the importance of regular check-ups, screenings and healthy lifestyle choices that can reduce the risk of developing gynaecological cancers.

Support survivors.

The month serves as an opportunity to celebrate the strength and resilience of gynaecological cancer survivors and to provide a platform for sharing their stories.

Advocate for research.

Increased awareness often leads to increased support for research funding to develop better treatments and diagnostic tools and ultimately find a cure for these cancers.

Encourage early detection.

Early detection greatly improves the chances of successful treatment and better outcomes. By knowing the signs and symptoms of gynaecological cancers, individuals can seek medical attention promptly.

Gynaecological cancers originate in the female reproductive organs. The main gynaecological cancer areas include:

Cervical cancer: This cancer starts in the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is often caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and can be detected early through regular smear tests. Smears are carried out on women aged 25-64 years old and every 3 years.

Ovarian cancer: Ovarian cancer originates in the ovaries, which are the organs that produce eggs and hormones. It’s often referred to as the “silent killer” because symptoms may not appear until the disease is advanced.

Womb cancer: The medical term for womb cancer is “uterine cancer” or “endometrial cancer. This develops in the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. It’s one of the most common gynaecological cancers and is often detected early due to symptoms like abnormal bleeding.

Vaginal cancer: This cancer occurs in the vaginal lining. It’s relatively rare and can be caused by factors like HPV infection, previous radiation treatment or exposure to dcAMiethylstilbesterol (DES) before birth.

Vulvar cancer: Vulvar cancer forms on the outer surface of the female genitalia. It can originate in the labia, clitoris or other parts of the vulva. HPV infection and precancerous changes are risk factors.

Throughout gynaecological cancer awareness month, various organisations, healthcare providers and advocates conduct awareness campaigns, fundraisers and educational events to spread information and support those affected by these cancers. Activities may include workshops, webinars, community outreach programs, social media campaigns and lots more.

It’s important to be aware of the risk factors, symptoms and screening guidelines for different types of gynaecological cancers. Regular screenings, for cervical cancer and mammograms for breast cancer, are essential for early detection and improved survival rates.

If you or someone you know is concerned about gynaecological cancer or its risks, it’s recommended to consult a healthcare professional for guidance, support and appropriate screenings.

Read more for further help and support below.

NHS   |   Cancer Research   |   The Eve Appeal   |   The Royal Marsden NHS   |   Jo’s Trust   |   Macmillan   |   Ovarian   |   Foundation for Women’s Cancer 

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