This month is (if I can spell the word correctly) Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month. It is organised by the Eve Appeal and they are raising awareness through virtual kisses and getting the correct information out to women. 1 million women a year worldwide contract a form of Gynaecological Cancer, and in the UK 7, 500 and in the US 18,000 women die from it.
Cervical Cancer had it’s profile raised immensely by the untimely death of Jade Goody, a TV reality star. Jade was just 28 when she died and she left behind two young sons.
Cervical Cancer is more common in women aged 30-45 and therefore younger women have found it harder to get tested and their symptoms taken seriously, they can be misdiagnosed easily. Gynaecological Cancer is tough to detect in the early stages at any age.
But there is good news.
Over the last three years our teenage daughters in the UK have been vaccinated against the HPV virus which causes 99% of Cervical Cancer. That’s a good thing right? Well I thought it was. But our friends across the pond seem to think that firstly their teen daughters are not having any kind of sexual activity and Michele Bachmann has said it shouldn’t be rolled out as it can cause retardation.
During Monday’s debate, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s attempt to require the shots for schoolgirls. In TV interviews Tuesday, Bachmann attacked the vaccines themselves as “dangerous,” relating a conversation with a mother who blames the shots for her daughter’s mental retardation.
There’s no evidence that the HPV shot — or any other vaccine — causes retardation, says O. Marion Burton, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement,” Burton said in a statement. “Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record.”
No Evidence that HPV vaccines are dangerous by Liz Szabo
As I understand it the injection has to take place before sexual activity starts and teenage years are the perfect time. The jab is very good when it comes to side affects and after checking the facts with cancer expert Sally Church, I had my daughter vaccinated.
So our girls, the young women of the future, are being protected except when it’s a political scoring point.
As I mentioned earlier, cervical cancer is deemed an older woman’s disease and that means younger women are sometimes misdiagnosed as it’s rare in the under 25s. The symptoms of Gynaecological Cancer as my friend Suzan St Maur puts it “are silent and deadly”.
If you have any of the following symptoms you should have a chat with the doctor and arrange a smear test.
The symptoms of cervical cancer are:
Any unusual bleeding from the vagina particularly
- after sex
- after menopause when your periods have stopped
- persistent vaginal discharge that is blood stained or smells unpleasant
- Pain in your pelvis
- Pain during sex
- Blood in your urine
- heavier / longer periods than usual
Cervical Cancer is also known as the silent killer as it can be there, but not showing any symptoms at all until it’s too late to treat effectively. This makes smear tests very important, they detect the abnormal cells early enough to treat the cancer.
Of course if you are a young woman that can be quite tough to go to the Doctor about the symptoms but there is an alternative to a doctor that doesn’t listen.
There is the TamPap test
The TamPap test is quite innovative and unlike a smear test, it doesn’t hurt. Now these tests are not a replacement for a smear test (which is a damn shame, the sooner they sort out a cervical cancer test that doesn’t hurt, the better).
FAQ – General HPV Right click, and save as to your desktop to read more frequently asked questions about HPV.
The TamPap kit consists of
• Three barcoded stickers, which will be unique to you. These enable TamPap to identify your sample in the laboratory. You will be asked to write your name and date of birth on the stickers before you attach them to your sample in order to track your result.
• Two plastic containers. You personalise these with the barcoded stickers. The containers will contain your sample for posting.
• A guide to how to use the kit.
• All you will need to provide is an ordinary tampon, as this is what you will use to collect a sample of your cells from your vagina.
When you have collected your sample, you send it back to the TamPap lab and you get results within 10-14 days. The cost of a kits is approx £40 plus postage and packaging.
The TamPap tests work by detecting HPV so it won’t be helpful when it comes to Ovarian Cancer but the testing kit is a step in the right direction. I can see this being as commonly used as a pregnancy testing kit in years to come, part of a woman’s routine when checking for lumps and bumps etc.
What do you think? Would you use a cancer home testing kit? What do you think the pro’s and con’s are?
PS Tweet this post out please to help raise awareness of Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month
I dedicate this post to my beloved Grandmother, 25 year survivor of Ovarian Cancer. Diagnosed swiftly by an up to date NHS Doctor and to my estranged sister Laura, 2 year survivor of Cervical Cancer.