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Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month

Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month: Survival rates will be negatively impacted with only 9% of women considering gynaecological health an important health condition,

This Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month (1-30 September 2021), new research by leading high street healthcare retailer Superdrug reveals the worrying lack of knowledge around the importance of gynaecological health and how to recognise the symptoms of the five gynaecological cancers.

New insights among 2603 women reveals that only 9% consider gynaecological health an important health condition, with weight (19%) and skin (10%) ranked as higher health priorities. This lack of awareness about the seriousness of gynaecological health is concerning considering that 58 women a day are diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer in the UK and sadly, of those, 21 will not survive.

The survey reveals a severe reticence when it comes to looking after gynaecological health. One in two women (49%) wouldn’t seek professional advice immediately if experiencing a gynaecological health issue and one in five (21%) say that gynaecological health issues are too easy to ignore. 12% find gynaecological health too embarrassing to talk about and more than one in ten (13%)  wouldn’t know what symptoms to look for to identify if something was wrong.

The survey results also reveal a significant lack of knowledge about gynaecological cancer, with nearly three quarters (73%) of women not knowing that there are five gynaecological cancers.  Awareness of common gynaecological cancers symptoms was also low:

  • 78% didn’t know that constipation is a symptom
  • 72% didn’t know that feeling full too quickly or difficulty eating is a symptom
  • 56% didn’t know that more frequent or urgent need to pee is a symptom
  • 53% didn’t know that Itching, burning or tenderness of the vulva is a symptom
  • 49% didn’t know that changes in vulva skin or colour is a symptom
  • 46% didn’t know that bloating is a symptom
  • 42% didn’t know that abdominal or back pain is a symptom
  • 28% didn’t know that abnormal periods or spotting is a symptom
  • 26% didn’t know that pelvic pain or pressure is a symptom
  • 19% didn’t know that abnormal vaginal discharge is a symptom

Symptom awareness and early diagnosis are vital to saving lives which is why Superdrug has chosen to give all of its nurse clinic patients a symptom tracker and advice to help women spot the signs of gynaecological cancer as part of its ongoing partnership with leading gynaecological cancer charity The Lady Garden Foundation.  The partnership is dedicated to raising awareness of gynaecological cancers, encouraging conversations and giving insights on how to spot the signs and symptoms early, as well as promoting cervical cancer screening attendance.

The Lady Garden Foundation has trained Superdrug nurses & pharmacists running health clinics in what symptoms to look for, as part of this partnership.  Since the partnership launched six months ago in March 2021, 5452 people have had a gynaecological cancer conversation with a Superdrug Nurse or pharmacist.

Dr Sara Kayat, Superdrug Ambassador comments, “The lack of knowledge around gynaecological cancers is extremely worrying. We know that, when caught early, these cancers can often be effectively treated, but without a single screening test for all 5 gynaecological cancers, we rely on patients knowing what symptoms to look out for. Superdrug’s partnership with The Lady Garden aims to increase the awareness of gynaecological cancers, and help women spot the signs and symptoms early.”

Caris Newson, Head of Healthcare Services at Superdrug says, “At Superdrug we are passionate about encouraging an open dialogue with patients to help them take proactive care of their gynae health. Our research revealed that, unfortunately, there is still a considerable lack of awareness around gynae cancers, and which signs and symptoms to look out for. We are proud of our ongoing partnership with The Lady Garden Foundation that makes sure that these important conversations happen, not only during Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month, but throughout the whole year.  By having consultations across all of our 80 high street health clinics with our trained nurses and pharmacists, we’re committed to helping people of all ages look after their gynae health.”

Lady Garden Foundation Chair & Co-Founder Jenny Halpern Prince says “1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and for the 58 women diagnosed daily, 36% won’t survive. This sobering statistic is why The Lady Garden Foundation exists – it’s why we’re dedicated to fundraising vital research and breaking the taboo about talking about your vagina and gynae health.”

The five different gynaecological cancers are cervical, ovarian, vaginal, vulval and womb (uterine). There is no single screening test available for all of these cancers so the importance of understanding the symptoms and getting an early diagnosis is essential to save lives. Often symptoms can be subtle and misattributed so having confidence in your own body and recognising when something isn’t right, is crucial.

About the Superdrug nurse gynaecological cancer awareness service

When a patient attends an in-clinic service appointment, the Superdrug nurse or pharmacist will offer them a discussion on gynaecological cancers where they talk them through the five different gynaecological cancers. Patients will also be offered a symptom tracker, designed to easily note down any signs or symptoms they experience, which they can then show to their GP.

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