MILLIONS of women across the UK are putting their lives at risk in lockdown by ignoring the signs of cancer.
A leading charity today said women are delaying getting checked for five common cancers, due to fears over coronavirus.
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Young people surveyed by YouGov and The Eve Appeal said they wouldn’t address symptoms of cancers including cervical cancer, ovarian cancer and cancer of the womb.
Launching their annual Get Lippy campaign urged women to speak up about the signs and symptoms – and act if they spot them.
Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said the pandemic is an uncertain time for all, but highlighted that healthcare services are still open and want to help.
“Anyone with new or troubling symptoms can still speak to their healthcare professional – you can call your GP or gynaecologist," he said.
"We welcome the fantastic work by the Eve Appeal and their Get Lippy campaign to signpost the symptoms of gynaecological cancers and encourage women to talk about their bodies.”
Sun columnist and Eve Appeal ambassador, Deborah James, who is living with stage 4 bowel cancer, said coronavirus must not stop women seeking help.
"The NHS is open to help and doctors would much rather you got checked and diagnosed early, rather than letting dangerous symptoms wait," she told The Sun.
"Early diagnosis really does save lives – catching a cancer at stage 1 rather than stage 4 can be the difference between cure and death.
"So, while we're all staying at home to protect the NHS, check your body, get used to what is normal for you, and if you spot something odd – get checked.
"That way we can save even more lives, during this pandemic."
Most ignore bleeding and bloating
38 per cent of 25-34 year olds and 32 per cent of 35-44 year olds surveyed said they would delay medical advice if they experienced bleeding after sex.
Bleeding after sex is a key symptom of cervical cancer, the charity warns.
Experiencing bleeding after sex can also mean you have an infection or an inflammatory condition.
Almost half of the 25-34 year olds surveyed said they would delay getting checked out if they were bleeding in between periods, another symptom of gynaecological cancers.
Meanwhile 30 per cent of those surveyed said they would put off investigating unusual bloating, which is a key symptom of ovarian cancer.
19 per cent of those surveyed who were over the age of 45 said that they would delay investigating post menopausal bleeding, which is a key sign of womb cancer.
What are the five gynaecological cancers?
According to the Eve Appeal over 21,000 women are diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer in the UK every year. The five gynaecological cancers are: womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal. But what are the symptoms and how can you spot them?
Womb cancer: Cancer of the womb is the fourth most common cancer in women in the UK. It is most common in pre-menopausal women, but can affect any woman at any age.
Key symptoms: vaginal bleeding, bleeding inbetween periods, vaginal discharge and bleeding that is abnormally heavy.
Ovarian cancer: In the UK nearly 7,500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year and it is most common is post-menopausal women, although any woman can get it.
Key symptoms: difficulty eating and feeling full quickly, or feeling nauseous, increased abdominal size and persistent bloating, an unexplained change in bowel habits and persistent pelvic and abdominal pain.
Cervical cancer: Cervical cancer can affect women of all ages but is most common in women primarily 30 – 45 years of age.
Key symptoms: in most cases unusual bleeding, however it may not cause any symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage.
Vulva cancer: Cancer of the vulva is one of the rarer cancers and only 1,000 women are diagnosed with the illness in the UK each year.
Key symptoms: a lump or swelling on the vulva, a lasting itch, pain or soreness, a mole on the vulva that changes shape or colour, an open sore, or thickened raised or red patches on the vulva.
Vaginal cancer: Only 250 women a year in the UK are diagnosed with vaginal cancer and it is most common in the over 60s.
Key symptoms: vaginal discharge that smells or may be blood stained, vaginal pain during sex, unexpected bleeding. persistent vaginal or pelvic pain.
Get checked, protect the NHS, save lives
In order to boost public awareness, and to encourage more women to get themselves checked out if they think they have an issue, the Get Lippy 2020 campaign has launched in order to provide women with information about where to go to get tested.
The aim of the campaign is to take pressure off frontline NHS staff working to fight Covid-19 by providing women with a myriad of resources.
9 out of 10 people of those surveyed said access to trusted health information is important while 84 per cent said it was important to have someone to discuss symptoms with.
The Eve Appeal also revealed that calls to its nurse-led service saw an increase of 22 per cent in March this year compared to February, with many people voicing concerns about symptoms or their current treatment plans.
Brands such as Tesco will be joining the campaign after it was found that 62 per cent of people felt health and beauty brands had an important role to play in sharing accurate health information.
Partners include brands such as Tesco, CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women), Vaseline, EOS, Carmex, O’Keeffes, Smashbox and Elemis.
Get Lippy will have branding on some products and 10 per cent of sales will go towards the campaign.
This is while Dr Bella Smith, GP and women’s health expert, and Get Lippy Ambassador, said an early referral for cancer patients is key in fighting the illness.
“One question that I asked a colleague last week was ‘where are all the suspected cancer patients?’ NCRAS (National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service) data shows a GP will refer on average 25 patients a year under the 2-week wait urgent cancer referral pathway, that’s one every 2 weeks.
“But during this lockdown and the COVID19 pandemic this number has greatly reduced. We know that urgent referrals for suspected cancer are key in achieving an early diagnosis that will improve cancer survival rates.
"I am Getting Lippy this May so that everyone is aware of the key symptoms of gynaecological cancers, and feels comfortable and confident talking about them and seeking medical attention when they need it through this pandemic.”
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