Pharmaceutical

Embarrassment, stigma with gynecological cancers prevents some women from seeking help

powder 3 435x326 Embarrassment, stigma with gynecological cancers prevents some women from seeking helpMisinformation about the causes and symptoms of gynecological cancers are creating a stigma around the diseases that could cost some women their lives, says The Eve Appeal, a women’s cancer charity in the United Kingdom.

The charity commissioned an online poll of 1,000 women and learned that a quarter of the women did not want to talk to their general practitioner about gynecological problems because they did not want to talk about their sexual history. One in five women surveyed believed that cancers of the uterus, ovaries, cervix, vulva and vagina were linked to sexual promiscuity, and nearly half felt there was greater stigma around gynecological cancers compared to other cancers.

HPV, the human papilloma virus, has been associated with cervical cancer, but the virus has no known links to uterine or ovarian cancers, the two most common forms of the disease. The group also said that HPV had become so common that it could be regarded as a normal consequence of sexual activity, even among women who have had just one partner.

Most alarming was that the women surveyed who were most reluctant to seek medical help for common symptoms of gynecological cancers were those between the ages of 46 and 55. One in five of women from this age group said they thought symptoms such as changes with their periods, persistent bloating, or pelvic discomfort were normal for their age.

Athena Lamnisos, chief executive of The Eve Appeal, urged women to “open up and share their experiences and concerns around gynecological health so that we can begin to address the misconceptions around the causes and symptoms of women’s cancers that have been highlighted in this survey.”

It is hard to pinpoint a cause for most gynecological cancers; however, risk factors include family history, situations or medications that affect hormone levels, or having a genetic condition or gene mutation such as the BRCA1 or 2 gene. Some personal hygiene practices can increase the risk of some cancer.

For example, use of talcum powder on the genitals for personal hygiene has been linked to cases of ovarian cancer in some women. It is believed that as many as 10 percent – or 2,000 – ovarian cancer diagnoses each year are linked to personal hygiene use of talc-containing products.

Source: The Guardian