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London, UK Posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Six Gynaecological Cancer Myths a Doctor Wants You to Know About

Be aware of these common gynaecological cancer myths and misconceptions

September marks gynaecological cancer awareness month, bringing with it an opportunity to reflect on the ways gynaecological cancer can touch our lives, and the signs and symptoms to be aware of.

Each year, more than 21,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer – the five main types being cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulval. And yet, a study from Bupa Health Clinics reports that one in 10 brits miss or delay potentially life-saving cancer screenings.

One common example of a gynaecological cancer screening is the cervical screening, or ‘smear test’. Although very clinically straightforward – for some, cervical screenings can be intimidating and anxiety-inducing, particularly for those who have a history of abuse or assault. Speaking to a mental health professional about your fears of this, and other, screenings can be incredibly helpful and affirming, as can reading about other’s experiences and speaking to others in your life who have had the procedure – and supportive steps such as these are worth taking, as it’s estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.

But beyond attending regular screenings, what are the key facts about gynaecological cancer that we should all note? Here, Dr Petra Simic, Medical Director at Bupa UK, debunks six common myths, and shares the symptoms to be aware of.

Six gynaecological cancer myths, debunked

Myth 1: Gynaecological cancer only affects older women

While it’s true that most gynaecological cancers affect older women (with the highest rates seen in women in their 70s or older), there is one cancer that is different. Cervical cancer is more common in younger women, which is why the HPV vaccination and the cervical screening programme is so important.

If you have been through the menopause, you may feel that you no longer need to worry about gynaecological cancers now that your reproductive organs are no longer active. However, this is a common misconception and menopausal women should be more aware of new gynaecological symptoms.

Younger women may worry about gynaecological cancer, yet it’s very rare to get gynaecological cancers during your reproductive years.

Myth 2: There are no early warning signs of gynaecological cancer

There are lots of early warning signs, so it’s best to get to know your body and reach out to your GP if you spot any unusual changes. You should tell them about any abnormal bleeding, pains, bloating, or changes in your bowel habits.

Myth 3: I have no symptoms, so I don’t need to get screened

We have an excellent cervical cancer screening programme, which can detect early abnormalities which can lead to cervical cancer.

Even if you don’t have any concerns, you must attend your checks as these can detect abnormalities before you start showing any symptoms. Early detection is key to effectively preventing and treating cancers; attending all appointments – even if you’re feeling well – is vital.

Myth 4: A cervical screening test is painful

It’s a common myth that a cervical screening test (previously known as a smear test) is a painful procedure. For some, it can be uncomfortable, especially if you have endometriosis, vaginismus (when your vagina suddenly becomes tight), or vaginal dryness. It’s important to explain any worries you have to your healthcare professional, as they should take additional steps to make the experience less stressful.

Myth 5: If I am worried I can go for a smear test, which will rule out any cancer

No, this is not the case. The cervical screening test only looks for signs that you may be at risk of cervical cancer. It is not a cancer test, nor does it assess the health of your vulva, vagina, womb or ovaries. A cervical screening test is only suitable if you have no symptoms of concern.

If you are having unusual bleeding, pain or other symptoms you should discuss this with a health care professional, who will decide with you what steps need to be taken to assess your gynaecological health.

Myth 6: Seeing the doctor about gynaecological issues is embarrassing

Do not worry, every doctor or nurse in your local clinic will have seen more vaginas than you could ever believe! They understand that everyone is an individual and, whilst you may feel uncomfortable discussing your intimate areas, they’re not there to judge you. Whatever your concern is – whether it’s problems with sex, vaginal bleeding, or discharge - they are there to support you.

Performing intimate examinations is part of your doctor or nurse’s everyday activities, and they are happy to do them, to help keep you healthy and identify any problems you may be having. Try and be as open and honest with your healthcare professional about your symptoms or concerns, as this will enable them to give you the best care they can.

 

Read the full article at: happiful

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