One in three mistakenly believe cervical screening checks for all gynaecological cancers
2,000 Women Diagnosed Annually Across Ireland
World Gynaecological Oncology Day aims to raise awareness of all five Gynaecological Cancers
Today, September 20th, the 5th World Gynaecologic Oncology Day, patients and advocates around the globe will unite to raise awareness about all five gynaecological cancers (ovarian, cervical, uterine, vulval and vaginal) and their risk factors. World GO Day aims to educate people worldwide about the importance of sharing information in relation to prevention, screening, symptoms, early diagnosis and treatment.
Research commissioned by the Irish Network for Gynaecological Oncology (INGO), shows that one in three women in Ireland (34%) mistakenly believe that cervical screening checks for all five gynaecological cancers.[i] The CervicalCheck Screening Programme assesses whether a woman is at risk of having cervical cancer, there is no screening for the other gynaecological cancers.
In the Republic of Ireland, over 1400 gynaecological cancers are diagnosed annually, representing over 12% of female cancers.[ii] In Northern Ireland on average 591 gynaecological cancers are diagnosed per year, also representing 12% of female cancers.[iii] Gynaecological cancers are among the most common cancers affecting women, but public awareness of these cancers remains worryingly low.
Anne Murphy, patient representative in INGO and cancer support nurse at Sláinte an Chláir in Co. Clare said; “Some gynaecological cancers can be prevented or diagnosed earlier at a stage when treatment can be more effective. Availing of HPV vaccination and screening, symptom awareness and knowing your body along with lifestyle choices can help improve outcomes with gynaecological cancers.”
Symptoms of gynaecological cancers vary, depending on the type of cancer. A broad spectrum of gynaecological cancer symptoms may include:
- Pelvic pain
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal bleeding during or after sexual intercourse
- Persistent abdominal swelling or bloating
- Unintended weight gain or loss
- Persistent bowel changes, like diarrhoea or constipation
These are common symptoms of gynaecological cancers, but there are more symptoms that relate specifically to each type. If you have persistent symptoms for longer than two weeks, then you should talk to your GP.
To further increase awareness of the symptoms of gynaecological cancers, the INGO have partnered with Riley, an Irish subscription based delivery service offering eco-friendly, toxin-free period products. A leaflet detailing the symptoms of all five gynaecological cancers will be distributed to Riley’s subscribers throughout the month of September.
Meagan Droney, E-Commerce Manager at Riley commented: “At Riley, we firmly believe that female health is a massively underserved area so we were delighted when the Irish Network for Gynaecological Oncology (INGO) reached out to us to be part of this campaign. We simply don't know enough about our bodies so we were eager to work with INGO to help raise awareness of the different types of gynae cancers. The work they're doing is incredible and it's an important partnership for us.”
The campaign also seeks to highlight the importance of family history for some women and families:
Genetics plays a role in a small percentage of gynaecological cancers. Consultant Cancer Geneticist and Medical Oncologist, St. James' s Hospital Karen Cadoo spoke to the benefits of genetic testing:
“Prevention and early detection can help us to reduce the burden of cancer in our population. Genetic testing may explain some of the cancers in a family and determine if more cancer screening or risk reducing approaches are needed for family members. We have made some progress but there is a lot still to do. Although there may be a wait for genetic testing, it is still important to know your family history and to talk to your doctor about whether a referral for assessment is needed.”
To highlight the realities of gynaecological cancers, the Irish Society of Gynaecological Oncology are releasing a series of podcasts, kindly sponsored by Breakthrough Cancer Research, with Dr. Doireann O’Leary where clinicians and patients discuss their lived cancer experiences. The first episode will be released on World GO Day. Episodes will be hosted on Dr. Doireann’s podcast channel.
Rachel McKeon, co-founder of OvaCare, said “Knowledge of family history and BRCA has led me to undergo preventative surgery. Not all cancers are hereditary so awareness of symptoms is key. I did a skydive when my Mum died and now that I am the same age as she was when she died, I am “jumping for awareness” on Sept 24th with other OvaCare members.”
Juliette Casey, The Emer Casey Foundation and member of the World GO Day campaign at INGO commented:
“The Emer Casey Foundation is delighted to support the 5th World GO Day and continues to advocate for awareness of gynaecologic cancers. We look forward to helping improve genetic testing services for women diagnosed with uterine/ovarian cancer in Ireland.”
Throughout September, people are invited to take part in a Dip or Dance with HSE National Cancer Control Programme sponsored hats, to remind women that maintaining a healthy weight and staying active can reduce the risk of developing Uterine Cancer. More details below.
For more information, please visit:
[i] Ovarian Cancer Awareness Measure 2023, conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes (B&A) on behalf of the INGO
[ii] National Cancer Registry Ireland Annual Report 2020