Cervical cancer is the most preventable gynaecological cancer, thanks to the national cervical screening program. However, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, and vulvar cancer are often not detected until they have spread, making them more difficult to treat.
Cherish Women’s Cancer Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funding for research into gynaecological cancers, wants women to know and understand some of the most common myths about these cancers to help women be more aware in future.
“There are many myths about gynaecological cancers that can prevent women from getting the early detection and treatment they need,” said Cherish Women’s Cancer Foundation Founder, Professor Andreas Obermair. “We want to set the record straight and help women understand the facts.”
The main myths surrounding gynaecological cancers include:
Gynaecological cancer only affects older women.
While it predominantly affects women after menopause, gynaecological cancer can also develop in young women.
There are no symptoms (it’s a silent killer).
Many women experience early symptoms but these symptoms are unspecific and therefore often ignored. Symptoms can include: irregular bleeding, continual abdominal pressure or bloating, vaginal discharge, changes in bowel or urinary habits, and changes to the vulva.
The pap smear picks up all types of gynaecological cancer.
This tests the cells of the cervix, identifying abnormalities that could develop into cancer. It does not test for other gynaecological cancers.
People with gynaecological cancer are promiscuous.
Actually, you can get any of these cancers even if you’re a virgin.
5.You can’t get gynaecological cancer after a hysterectomy.
This surgery does not prevent cancer developing in other parts of a woman’s reproductive system.
Today survival rates for gynaecological cancer are high.
While the detection and treatment of gynaecological cancer have improved, the survival rates are lower than that of breast cancer.
“We encourage women to talk to their doctor about their risk of developing gynaecological cancer,” said Professor Obermair. “Early detection and treatment are essential for improving outcomes for women with these cancers.”