‘Gynae’ cancer: why we need to raise awareness

‘Gynae’ cancer: why we need to raise awareness

We’re all conscious of breast cancer but The Eve Appeal, which funds research into gynaecological cancers, says that more than 80 per cent of women know little about the five types – cervical, ovarian, womb (endometrial), vaginal and vulval – partly because talking about the parts involved is embarrassing. ‘And that is preventing earlier diagnosis and fewer deaths,’ says Robert Marsh, chief executive of The Eve Appeal.

Over 18,000 new cases of ‘gynae’ cancers are diagnosed every year in the UK. That’s 51 women each day, of which 21 will die, the majority from ovarian cancer (4,373). But worryingly, the incidence of womb cancer is increasing. It is now more common than ovarian cancer and deaths number 1,937, over twice the number for cervical cancer. (Vaginal and vulval cancers are very rare.)

The Eve Appeal says it’s vital to recognise the symptoms that you should discuss with your doctor. Often they won’t be an indicator of serious illness but it could save your life.

Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer: pelvic or abdominal pain, increased abdominal size/persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes), feeling full without eating much, lack of appetite, needing to urinate more urgently or more often than usual. These are common symptoms but should be taken seriously if they are experienced frequently, are persistent and have started within the last 12 months.

Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer: any unusual bleeding from the vagina particularly after sex or after the menopause (when periods have stopped), persistent vaginal discharge that is blood-stained or smells unpleasant. Even if you have been for screening (a ‘smear’ test), do tell your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of womb cancer: this is almost always curable if caught at an early stage. Cervical screening is not targeted at detecting womb cancer. Key early indicators are vaginal bleeding between periods, or after the menopause. Generally, if you have any abnormal bleeding, tell your GP immediately.

September is Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month. The Eve Appeal is launching its Funny Feet campaign to raise awareness and also funds for research.


Here’s a fascinating tip that came to Jo Fairley’s and my Beauty Bible website (beautybible.com). Nicola writes: ‘I had [eye] problems recently and read that it was good to submerge your face in a basinful of warm water with a teaspoon of salt in it. You slowly blink, then gently exhale through your nose. My optician said it was great for reducing blockages on the rim of the eye [such as styes]. The bonus is I no longer need to use a toner as it removed all traces of make-up and cleanser.’


I had to hobble into a nearby chemist and buy Compeed blister plasters recently, because new shoes and bare feet had resulted in very sore patches on my heel and toes. Now I carry supplies everywhere. Compeed Blister Mix (pack of five), around £5.25, available nationwide.


  1. It’s not just a fad
    Sportspeople swear by this clear low-cal liquid, dubbing it ‘Nature’s Lucozade’. According to nutritionist Jenna Barclay, coconut water’s electrolyte composition – including potassium, magnesium and calcium – is almost identical to the plasma in our blood. It also contains antioxidants.
  2. Electrolytes are the salts and minerals that keep our systems alkaline An alkaline body is a healthy thriving one, as opposed to an acidic system, which is linked to all sorts of health problems (including osteoporosis and possibly cancer and heart disease), plus a feeling of constantly being under par.
  3. Acidity comes from many sourcesThe food we eat (processed and packaged foods, an excess of red meat and cheese, fizzy drinks and caffeine), stress, pollution, second-hand smoke, chemicals in cosmetics and household products. These leach our electrolyte stores to neutralise the damage so we need to replace them.
  4. Coconut water is absorbed quickly, replenishing electrolyte levelsand hydrating the body, plus the natural sugars give you an energy boost. Vita Coco Coconut Water is one of the most popular items on Jenna’s website
    (foodstolove.co.uk). Drink it chilled for palatability.
  5. Be sceptical about other health claims Research so far is scanty. And don’t forget that an alkaline diet is vital too.

You wouldn’t dream of sending a child out on a horse without a properly fitted helmet, and I have never understood anyone who rides a bike without one. Most child cyclist injuries occur between May and September, so do visit this award-winning website from the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust for information on safe cycling, including Teachers’ Lesson Packs.