Gynaecological Awareness Month
Don’t ignore potential symptoms of Gynaecological Cancers.
Contact your GP practice.
September is Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month. Throughout the month we want to highlight and make women aware of symptoms that could be a sign of cancer. It is so important not to ignore them and to contact your GP.
There are five gynaecological or women’s cancers: womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal, which together affect 22,000 women each year in the UK.
You can find out more about women’s cancers here.
This month we are focusing on the signs and symptoms of ovarian and womb cancers – to raise their profile and support early diagnosis.
Ovarian cancer affects the 2 small organs (ovaries) that store the eggs needed for fertilisation. Anyone with ovaries can get ovarian cancer, but it mostly affects those over 50. Sometimes ovarian cancer can run in families.
There are around 7,500 new ovarian cancer cases in the UK each year, that's 21 every day.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer include having persistent bloating or a swollen tummy, frequently feeling full quickly after eating or having no appetite, persistent pain in your lower tummy, or needing to pee more urgently or more often than usual.
Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed late, but early diagnosis can mean it is more treatable. This is why if you notice any of these symptoms it is so important that you contact your GP practice.
More information on ovarian cancer can be found here.
Cancer of the womb (uterus) is the most common gynaecological cancer in the UK for women.
There are around 9,700 new womb cancer cases in the UK every year, that's 27 every day. More information about womb cancer can be found here.
The main symptoms include: bleeding or spotting from the vagina after the menopause, heavy periods that are unusual for you, bleeding between your periods, and a change to your vaginal discharge.
If you are worried about any of these symptoms contact your GP practice.
Finding cancer early can make it more treatable. #ClearOnCancer
Bowel Cancer Awareness Month
Cancer Won’t Wait. Screening saves lives, are you up to date?
April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and we are encouraging 56 and over 60 year olds to participate in bowel screening as part of the National Age Extension Campaign for bowel screening.
Every 15 minutes somebody is diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK and it is one of the most common types of cancers diagnosed in the UK. Previously bowel screening kits have been available for anyone over the age of 60 years. Last year in April 2021, 56 year olds were invited to take part in screening and eventually everyone between the ages of 50 and 74 will be invited to take part.
Screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage and when treatment has the best chance of being successful.
Bowel Cancer screening is done at home, the kit which includes simple instructions is sent in the post and test results arrive back in the post within 2 weeks. If you would like the NHS to send you a testing kit call the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.
If you are worried about a family history of bowel cancer or have any symptoms speak to a GP for advice.
Cancer won’t wait. Screening saves lives, are you up to date?
- Persistent blood in your poo – that happens for no obvious reason or is associated with a change in bowel habit
- A persistent change in your bowel habit – which is usually needing to poo more and your poo may also become more runny
- Persistent lower abdominal (tummy) pain, bloating or discomfort – that’s always caused by eating and may be associated with loss of appetite or significant unintentional weight loss.
The screening testing kits looks for blood in the stool. If blood is found in the stool, you will be invited for further tests at the hospital. Blood in the stool may be a sign of bowel cancer, and picking it up early improves the chances of treatment being successful.
New campaign launches in NW London called ‘Cancer Won’t Wait’
We have launched a new campaign across North West London called ‘Cancer won’t wait’.
Since the start of the pandemic the number of people taking up screening appointments and attending their referral appointments has markedly dropped.
We are asking people to come forward for screening when invited and to speak to their GP if they notice any unusual changes in their body without delay.
Dr Abhijit Singh Gill, Hammersmith and Fulham GP and Cancer Lead for NHS NW London Clinical Commissioning Group explains “Coronavirus has of course been a huge health concern for everyone this past year, and we have noticed that people are less likely to present to their GP with health concerns. When it comes to cancer, it is important that people come to us early, so every effort is made to help them as quickly as possible".
“GPs are very busy but we are not too busy for our patients. If you have noticed something about your body that’s not normal for you, or are worried about any symptoms, please speak to your GP. Please also take up that screening”
Whether you or a loved one has a routine appointment, or a potential cancer symptom, our message is clear – you are not a burden, we are here to safely care for you so please don't delay, come forward as you usually would. Cancer won’t wait and we can see you safely”.
NHS staff have pulled out all the stops to keep cancer services going throughout the pandemic.
With thanks to staff at West Middlesex Hospital who have supported the campaign, featuring on posters, videos and social media.
What screening is available?
- Cervical screening
- Breast screening
- Bowel cancer screening
When are you invited for screening?
Cervical screening is offered to women aged 25 to 64 to check the health of cells in the cervix. It is offered every 3 years for those aged 26 to 49, and every 5 years from the ages of 50 to 64.
Breast screening is offered to women aged 50 to 70 to detect early signs of breast cancer. Women over 70 can self-refer.
Bowel cancer screening everyone aged 60 to 74 is offered a bowel cancer screening home test kit every 2 years.
If you're 75 or over, you can ask for a kit every 2 years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.
If I miss the appointment or do not remember, will they remind me again?
Bowel - If you're worried about a family history of bowel cancer or have any symptoms, speak to a GP for advice. You can also ask for the home test kit every 2 years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60. More information here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer-screening/
Cervical – Cervical screening is taking place contact your GP surgery online or by phone if you think you are due to have cervical screening but have not been sent an invite.
Breast - Breast screening is taking place, if you think you are due to have cervical screening but have not been sent an invite please call your nearest breast screening service and by visiting https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-services/Breast-screening-services/LocationSearch/325
How will they notify me of the result and when?
Your cervical screening results are usually sent to you in a letter. Sometimes you may be asked to call your GP to get the results.
The nurse or doctor who does your cervical screening will tell you when you can expect your results letter.
If you have waited longer than you expected, call your GP surgery to see if they have any updates.
You'll receive a letter with your breast screening results within 2 weeks of your appointment. The results will also be sent to your GP.
Bowel cancer screening
Your result should be posted to you within 2 weeks of sending off your kit.
When do I see my GP if I have noticed a change in my body?
Changes to your body's normal processes or unusual, unexplained symptoms can sometimes be an early sign of cancer.
Symptoms that need to be checked by a doctor include:
• a lump that suddenly appears on your body
• unexplained bleeding
• changes to your bowel habits
But in many cases your symptoms will not be related to cancer and will be caused by other, non-cancerous health conditions.
Will I have the option of seeing my doctor face to face?
Yes, all GP practices in NW London are offering face to face appointments but in the interest of patient and staff safety you may have a telephone call with your GP first who will then decide what steps are needed. If you need a face to face appointment you will be invited in to your practice..
I know GPs are busy I don’t want to bother my GP should I wait to see if my symptoms get worse?
No, the NHS may be busy but your health is important to us and we are here and ready to see you safely. Please speak to your GP right away if you have noticed something that is not normal for you.
Early diagnosis in cancer is crucial.
So whether you or a loved one has a routine appointment, or a potential cancer symptom, our message is clear – you are not a burden, we are here to safely care for you so please don't delay, come forward as you usually would. Cancer won’t wait and we can see you safely.
Could the tests be delayed due to the coronavirus?
No, NHS staff have been working hard to keep these services going throughout the pandemic, so please do attend when invited for an appointment for any tests.
If during the tests I have any questions, can I call my GP?
The NHS is here to support you. Hospital teams will often receive the results to tests that they have ordered, and will communicate these to you as soon as possible. Your GP is available to support you through any worries or questions that you may have.
Is it safe to visit NHS premises? I’m worried about attending an appointment.
The NHS puts safety first above anything else and we have worked really hard to put lots of measures in place to protect our patients and our staff, and stop the spread.
These measures mean that people who do not have Covid can also safely access services.
If something is detected and I need further tests, should I still have the vaccine?
We encourage safe administration of the COVID vaccination. A diagnosis of cancer does not mean that you cannot have the vaccine. If you have any worries, please speak to your GP.