9th May 2022
A new survey by The Eve Appeal (YouGov) found that 1 in 3 people can’t name a single gynaecological cancer and only 2% can name all five of them – diseases which affect over 21,000 people a year in the UK.
The gynaecological cancer with the highest awareness by far is cervical cancer, which 61% of people could name. Despite this awareness, many don’t know what symptoms they need to look out for; with fewer than half (45%) knowing that bleeding after sex is a red flag symptom.
The less well-known but more common gynaecological cancers – womb and ovarian – fare even worse in terms of symptoms awareness. Only 32% of people know that abnormal vaginal bleeding is a red flag symptom of womb cancer (womb cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women and people with gynae organs in the UK and 1 in 36 born after 1960 will be diagnosed with it).
Only a third of people (33%) are aware of one of the key symptoms of ovarian cancer, persistent bloating.
Early diagnosis of cancer is critical in giving patients the best possible chance. The Eve Appeal’s annual Get Lippy campaign aims to help women and people with gynae cancers get diagnosed at the earliest stage possible. All through May, The Eve Appeal is joined by a host of health and beauty brands to Get Lippy and loud about gynae cancers by raising awareness of the key symptoms, by breaking down the taboos that put a barrier between people and accessing medical help, and by raising money to fund research into the prevention and earlier diagnosis of all five gynae cancers.
We want everyone to Get Lippy so that everyone knows there are five gynaecological cancers: womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal, and everyone knows the key symptoms to look out for:
The Eve Appeal has launched a set of ‘conversation starters’ to help open up gynae health conversations with friends and family and help save lives.
Visit getlippy.org.uk for further information about brands, partners and ambassadors supporting the campaign
Athena Lamnisos, The Eve Appeal CEO, says: “There is a woeful lack of knowledge of what is going on between our legs and inside our pelvises. Get Lippy is about cancer prevention – stopping it before it starts. We want everyone to know the signs and symptoms and seek medical help as soon as they need it. This means knowing your anatomy, being aware of key symptoms like abnormal bleeding and being able to have a conversation about them without embarrassment with your doctor.”
Minister for Women’s Health Maria Caulfield said: “The Eve Appeal’s Get Lippy campaign is doing crucial work to break down barriers surrounding gynaecological cancers so people can have more open conversations with their friends, family and doctors.
“It’s important that women recognise the key symptoms – such as vaginal bleeding between periods, during or after sex, or after the menopause – and speak to their GP for advice and further tests where necessary.
“As a cancer nurse, I know how important a quick diagnosis is and the earlier you can start treatment the better the outcome. We will set out a 10-Year Cancer Plan later this year with an ambition to be the best in Europe for cancer care, with a renewed focus on innovative treatment and early diagnosis.”
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “Gynaecology waiting lists for diagnoses and treatment have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, growing by over 60% since pre-pandemic levels.
“We are concerned these delays may have led to fewer diagnoses of cancers, as well as a delay in picking up pre-malignant changes. A number of non-cancerous gynaecological conditions are linked with an increased risk of cancer. This can be very worrying for women who have these conditions and are faced with a prolonged wait to see a specialist.
“Although we do not know the true scale of delayed diagnosis of gynaecological cancers, it is vital that these risks are addressed, and gynaecology is given the attention it so desperately needs to recover.”
Dr Ellie Cannon, NHS GP and broadcaster, says: ‘The inequality we see in gynaecological health comes from women not being listened to: and part of that is because unhelpful language, stereotypes and misconceptions are rife when it comes to us talking about our health and anatomy. Talking frankly about symptoms, smashing taboos and using the right language empowers women to get the best healthcare, earlier diagnosis when it matters and will allow levelling up when it comes to women’s health.’
Vijaya ‘V’ Varilly, says: ‘I was diagnosed with cervical cancer during lockdown and had I not talked openly about what I was experiencing with my family and the GP, I would not have got an early diagnosis and subsequent all clear. Women have been conditioned and sometimes shamed into keeping quiet about their gynae health. But without open discussions, we will never eliminate the unnecessary taboos around the subject. Other cancers don’t have these barriers, we need to be loud and proud and lean on each other for support.
There have been reports that females with cervical cancer experience delays in diagnosis because of a failure to recognise symptoms, and this has been exacerbated due to the pandemic. Talking can quite literally save your life.”