Summary: Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month provides an important opportunity to draw attention to this important women’s health issue and offer vital information on risk cancers, warning signs, and prevention strategies. This year alone, it is estimated that over 100,000 women will be stricken with some form of gynecologic cancer and over thirty-thousand women will lose their battle. This is why regular testing and early detection are key factors in wholly healing from gynecologic cancer. Here you can learn about the different gynecologic cancers, about the Foundation for Women’s Cancer, and how you can help to raise awareness about the importance of educating yourself about these types of cancer.
All women are at risk for gynecologic cancers. Each September, many medical fields and organizations recognize Gynecologic Cancer Awareness month. The Foundation for Women’s Cancer created this awareness month in 1999 to help to bring attention, awareness and education to the forefront of women’s gynecologic cancers. It is estimated that this year 100,000 women will be diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer and some 30,000 will die from the disease. These cancers can include any of the following:
- Cervical Cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Uterine and Endometrial cancers
- Vaginal cancer
- Vulvar cancer
- Breast cancer
- Primary Peritoneal cancer
- Gestational Trophoblastic cancer and more.
There are different risk factors for each of these cancers, including heredity. That said, many women do develop cancer without being considered high risk. It is important for women to know about the types of gynecological cancer, symptoms and potential warning signs to watch out for, and screening and prevention strategies to do. The Foundation for Women’s cancers provides amazing resources and information on numerous topics related to these cancers. The core values that began this organization are:
- Awareness: Promote public awareness of gynecologic cancer prevention, early diagnosis and optimal treatment.
- Diversity and Inclusion: Commit to cultural humility and diversity of thought and engagement.
- Education: Provide innovative education and continuous learning.
- Leadership: Set an example of integrity, quality and excellence to eradicate gynecologic cancer.
- Partnership: Support efforts of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology to eradicate gynecologic cancers.
- Research: Advance innovation and discovery to eradicate gynecologic cancer.
By increasing human papillomavirus testing, Pap smear screenings, HPV vaccine administration and genetic counseling substantial improvements will be made. It is within reach to improve the quality of life, diagnosis frequency and survival rate for gynecologic cancer patients.
Despite advances, over 15,000 women are predicted to die in 2019 from ovarian cancer. It is the deadliest of all gynecologic cancers, surpassing uterine cancer and cervical cancer. Ovarian cancer comes in three main types: ovarian epithelial, ovarian germ cell and low malignant tumors. All three major forms of ovarian cancer are impacted by genetic factors. Mutations in the cancer fighting genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, increases risk of ovarian, breast and other cancers by thirty times. It is recommended that people with a family history of ovarian or breast cancer be tested for this mutation. A genetic test is a form of empowerment. It can empower a betterment in lifestyle, consistency in screenings and a sense of readiness and preparation. Genetic counselling alone could save thousands of American lives every year.
Uterine cancer is a very common and potent cancer which has two major types: endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma. Endometrial cancer is common due to its sensitivity to environmental conditions. High blood pressure, diabetes and obesity all increase odds of endometrial cancer. Lifestyle decisions are crucial to minimization of uterine cancer risks. The second uterine cancer, uterine sarcoma, occurs in the muscles that support the uterus. The risk for uterine sarcoma is increased by x-ray exposure. The risk for uterine cancer also increases when using the breast cancer drug, Tamoxifen.
Cervical cancer is a disease most often caused by the HPV virus, which does have a vaccine. In 2017 research by the World Health Organization confirmed a near one-hundred-percent effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing cervical, vulvar and vaginal disease caused by the virus. It is predicted that over ninety percent of cervical cancer incidences can be avoided through the vaccine. It is suggested that children aged eleven and twelve years begin to get the vaccination. In addition, it is important that all women get cervical cancer screening which can include a Pap test and genetic HPV testing. This is the most effective way to find precancerous cells of the cervix.
What You can do to Help
There are simply and easy ways you can include yourself in Gynecologic Cancer Awareness month! One of the easiest ways to do so is to use hashtags #GynecologicCancerAwarenessMonth, #GCAM and #EndWomensCancer in related social media posts focused on bringing awareness to gynecologic cancers.
- Write or share social media posts about recognizing the symptoms of gynecologic cancers and the importance of being treated by a gynecologic oncologist if diagnosed.
- Download and distribute GCAM posters to help spread awareness about symptoms, risk factors and prevention.
- Share photos of FWC fundraising events or of advocates and survivors wearing purple, the designated color of gynecologic cancer awareness.
- Register, fundraise or donate to the National Race to End Women’s Cancer in Washington, DC.
- Follow the FWC on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as we share information and inspiration throughout the month.
Join forces with your community this September and raise awareness for gynecological cancers in women! By helping to educate and empower the public, more women will have the knowledge necessary to watch for and recognize warnings signs and symptoms. If you think you may be experiencing a form of gynecologic cancer, make an appointment with your medical care provider to begin testing today.