Womb cancer: Get bleedin' checked!

Womb cancer: Get bleedin' checked!

Unusual or irregular vaginal bleeding is a common symptom of gynaecological cancer and the main symptom of one of the gynaecological cancers: womb cancer. Womb cancer mainly affects women after the menopause, with about 20 per cent of cases occurring in pre-menopausal women. If you have any bleeding after the menopause - even just traces of blood - you should get checked out. The same goes for women who are pre-menopause and have bleeding outside their periods - just get bleedin' checked!

You may have seen our research today, which shows that women are normalising the symptoms of gynaecological cancer. Worryingly, a third of women that we spoke to say that they don't feel that the symptom of irregular bleeding is 'serious enough to warrant a visit to the doctor. This increases to over half of women aged 16-24 years old.

We have just launched a specialist nurse-led gynaecological cancer information service - Ask Eve. Delivered via confidential telephone and email support, those that are worried by symptoms are encouraged to Ask Eve as a first port of call if they're delaying seeking help from a health professional.   

We want to hear from you: 

• Why do you think women say symptoms 'aren’t serious enough' to seek help?  

• What do you think might be some of the other reasons that women don't seek help for a symptom like unusual vaginal bleeding?

• And what do you think we need to do to encourage women to seek help for symptoms like this?

2 Replies

  • It's no surprise that women think persistent bleeding between periods is normal. Their GPs have told women between 40 and 55 (like mine did) that 'it's probably the menopause'. Those same GPs are now instructed by the NICE Urgent Referral guidelines not to refer pre-menopausal women with womb cancer symptoms for urgent investigation. So, once again, womb cancer becomes stereotyped in the busy, conscientious GP's mind as 'a post-menopausal problem'. Maybe the conscientious, hard-working Eve Appeal could help get those guidelines - drawn up by GPs - changed to include, "Consider urgent referral for persistent inter-menstrual bleeding." How did this mistake happen? GPs measured the incidence of one-off inter-menstrual bleeding in womb cancer diagnoses and found it extremely low. They failed to measure the link between PERSISTENT intermenstrual bleeding and womb cancer diagnoses. So more young women will die.

  • I know it would be difficult for a lot of women to have the simple test that would tell you whether or not you had womb cancer. You need to be able to tolerate having an object pushed through your cervix into your womb to take a sample of the endometrial lining. If you have never had a coil, you might find that too painful. However, it is a minute of pain or discomfort and that is all you need to be able to tell if there are cancer cells present in the womb. That or a CA125 blood test. Neither ought to be too expensive. They would certainly be considerably cheaper for the NHS than extensive surgery, possibly followed by chemotherapy, radiotherapy and even brachytherapy when the cancer is discovered at a far later stage. And better for the woman concerned as well!

You may also like...