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Beating the Silent Killers

Beating the Silent Killers

Knowing the warning signs of gynaecological cancer and being proactive could save your life.

Beating the Silent Killers

Gynaecological cancers make up approximately 10% of all cancer cases and cancer deaths in New Zealand. Approximately 1000 women are diagnosed with one of the four main forms of gynaecological cancer each year – ovarian, cervical, endometrial (or uterine), and vulval. Of this number, roughly 400 women die, the New Zealand Gynaecological Cancer Foundation reports.

Studies show that few women are able to accurately identify symptoms of gynaecological cancer. The more we know what to look for, the quicker we are able to seek medical advice and the more likely we are to catch cancer early on and possibly eradicate it. Read on for symptoms of the four gynaecological cancers.

Uterine cancer

  • Abnormal bleeding: after menopause and between periods
  • Heavier periods than normal
  • Abnormal discharge: more than normal or strong smelling

Cervical cancer

Regular smear tests can detect abnormalities on the cervix that could turn into cervical cancer. Smear tests are recommended every three years for women over the age of twenty, and according to the National Cervical Screening Program regular smears can reduce a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer by 90%. Women can also choose to receive a series of vaccinations to help prevent cervical cancer.

Symptoms: as with uterine cancer, plus:

  • Pain during sex
  • Bleeding after sex

Vulval cancer

  • Itching and soreness of the vulva
  • An obvious change in the colour of the vulva skin
  • A noticeable lump

Ovarian cancer:

Ovarian cancer is considered one of the trickiest cancers to catch early, because the symptoms can be vague and easily confused with other problems. If the you experience any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, see your doctor immediately:

  • Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain
  • Increased abdominal size/persistent bloating
  • Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly




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