Survey results for

January/April: Gynae Awareness

In the UK, approximately 21,000 women are diagnosed with some form of gynaecological cancer each year, and together they account for approximately 8,000 deaths a year. There are 5 gynae cancers; cervical, ovarian, womb (uterine), vaginal and vulvar cancer, with womb and ovarian cancer being the 4th and 6th most common cancers in women, respectively.

Recent annual gynaecological cancer awareness surveys carried out by The Eve Appeal have shown astonishingly low awareness of gynae cancer, its types and symptoms amongst women in the UK.

At talkhealth we launched our gynae cancer awareness survey to better understand both awareness levels and knowledge gaps in order that we can develop an educational programme to improve everyone’s understanding of these cancers from signs and symptoms to where to go for advice. The survey gathered over 5,000 responses with 3,602 complete responses. The vast majority of participants were female (92%) with the rest men, answering on behalf of someone they care about.

Awareness

Awareness of the gynae cancers ranged from 95% of survey participants for cervical cancer to only 25% for vulvar cancer. Worryingly, when asked whether the signs and symptoms of each of the 5 individual cancers are known the reported awareness was very low, from 48% of participants for cervical cancer to only 13% for vulvar cancer. However, reported awareness of the specific signs of possible gynae cancer was higher. 80% of participants recognise abnormal bleeding, one of the most common symptoms of gynae cancers, as a possible symptom. Other well recognised symptoms include; discomfort or pain during sex (68%), vaginal discharge that smells or is blood stained (63%) and a lump or growth in the vagina (64%).

Statistics and genetic testing

83% of participants are encouraged to lose weight on knowing that a third of womb cancers are caused by obesity. 82% of participants would consider genetic testing if they had a family history of ovarian, womb or breast cancer. 79% of participants say they believe genetic testing is a good idea with 19% of participants unsure about genetic testing. When asked to specify the reasons for their belief the responses included very positive comments such as:

"help research"

"expediate diagnosis", and

"early detection could save lives"

to the more concerned comments such as:

"impact on life knowing", and

"as long as there is something you can do rather than just worry"

Of the participants eligible for cervical cancer screening 38% say the have missed / not attended a routine screening test.

Vaccinations and GP visits

46% of survey respondents have seen a GP due to experiencing symptoms associated with periods or the female genital area. Significant reasons for not seeing a GP, other than having no symptoms were embarrassment and time/difficulty in arranging an appointment.

Reported cases of human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, the causative agent of 99% of all cervical cancers, have fallen sharply since 2008 when the HPV vaccination became available in 2008 to girls aged 11 to 13. 64% of respondents with eligible daughters say their daughter has been vaccinated and 75% of participants say that if they had an eligible daughter they would be extremely likely to encourage her to get vaccinated.

Of the survey participants that have received a gynae cancer diagnosis, 84% visited a GP as the initial course of action with 11% initially seeking advice from the internet. On experiencing symptoms or having concerns 48% of these people saw a GP within 1 week and 74% within 4 weeks. Other people, however said that they waited

"years and years",

"struggled to get in to see dr", and "paid private due to wait"

Advice

On diagnosis of a gynae cancer people stated that they wanted advice on

"treatment options"

"what happens next"

"Side effects"

"Counselling", and

"meeting other patients"

The advice that people, who had previously had a gynae cancer diagnosis, felt should be given to people that may have health concerns about the gynae cancers was

"visit HCP asap"

"talk and don't be embarrassed"

"check ups and screening", and

"persevere with GP, don't allow yourself to me dismissed"

If you're interested in a detailed analysis of the results for these surveys please contact us.

Last revised: 14 May 2018