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Why September matters.
Why September matters
by Kaz Molloy
There may only be 12 months in the year but there are many more types of cancer - over 200 different types . Some are well known like breast and lung cancer but others are extremely rare and don’t get much attention, like cholangiocarcinoma (or bile duct cancer) which is the one that my Mom was diagnosed with in Nov. 2013 and subsequently died from 5 weeks later.
There are high profile awareness campaigns every year – strangely enough usually for the cancers that most people have heard of and not for the rarer ones that hardly anyone knows about. You would think it would be the other way around.
Cervical cancer has an awareness week at the end of January and a cervical screening awareness week in mid June. Ovarian cancer has its awareness month in March.
Until 2011 there was no awareness month for womb cancer, that is until Womb Cancer Support UK, which was formed earlier that year, decided to follow on from their American counterparts and take September and turn it “peach” – which if you don’t know by now is the awareness colour for womb cancer.
Now, if you know your cancers, then you will know that there are actually 5 gynaecological cancers; womb, ovarian, cervical, vaginal and vulval. Sadly the last 2 get even less recognition than womb cancer does but as womb cancer is the most common of the 5 we at WCSUK believe that it deserves a month of its own and that is why we will continue to use September as womb cancer awareness month. Lumping it in with the others and calling it gynaecological awareness month is not giving womb cancer the full exposure it needs. By the way, we also think that vaginal and vulval cancers deserve more awareness.
We believe there needs to be a dedicated awareness campaign, run by all the devolved health departments in England, Scotland, Wales and NI.
After all, more women are diagnosed with womb cancer than either cervical or ovarian yet many have never heard of it before being diagnosed. Sadly it is still seen by many in the medical profession as something that only post-menopausal women get. I even had a lady who had been a nurse for over 10 years tell me that she had never heard of it. She had heard of cervical and ovarian cancer but not womb cancer!
Sadly, there are more and more younger women being diagnosed and it’s often very hard for them to get a firm diagnosis because, despite presenting with all the usual symptoms they are told by their GP that they are “too young” to be diagnosed. I am aware of at least 2 who were diagnosed at 19 so no woman is “too young” to get womb cancer.
This September, as in the previous 5 years, WCSUK will be doing all we can to raise awareness of womb cancer. We are collaborating with other women’s health organisations and we hope that our efforts will go some way to raising the profile of this cancer and making all women aware that it could happen to them – after all there are already many women out there who didn’t think it would happen to them and sadly it did.