Know the signs of gynaecological cancers

1,400 cases diagnosed in Ireland annually
  • Deborah Condon

Over 1,400 gynaecological cancers are diagnosed in Ireland every year, which represents 12% of all female cancers, experts have said.

They are calling on women to get familiar with the signs and symptoms of the main types of gynaecological cancers that affect women - cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar. Such symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, pelvic pain or pressure, and a more frequent need to urinate.

According to consultant gynaecological oncologist and National Cancer Control Programme lead for women's cancer, Dr. Michael O'Leary, early diagnosis and treatment are key.

"It remains vitally important that women liaise with their healthcare providers if they have any concerns about their reproductive health. Early diagnosis of gynaecological cancers remains the best chance of successful treatment," he commented.

He also emphasised the importance of prevention where possible.

"The HPV vaccine can protect against some of these gynaecological cancers, so it is important for girls and boys in first year of secondary school to avail of this vaccine," he said.

Dr. Sharon O'Toole, a senior research fellow in Trinity College Dublin who works in the area of gynaecological cancer, emphasised the importance of knowing the symptoms of gynaecological cancers, as this can help with early diagnosis.

"We encourage women to become familiar with the symptoms associated with each gynaecological cancer (these can be viewed here). Please contact your GP if you have symptoms that persist for more than two weeks," she said.

Joanne Lepetit was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of just 28. She advised all women to "know your body".

"If something doesn't feel right, get it checked, no matter how irrelevant you think it might be, and push for tests," she said.

These types of cancers are being highlighted ahead of World Gynaecologic Oncology (GO) Day on September 20. This is an annual awareness day, which aims to increase understanding and awareness of these types of cancers.

As part of this year's event, a number of buildings have agreed to light up in purple, which is the colour associated worldwide with the fight against gynaecological cancers.

These buildings include the Convention Centre and the National Concert Hall in Dublin, City Hall in Cork, the National University of Ireland in Galway, the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary and Titanic Belfast.

For more information on World GO Day, click here.


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