The 21 Symptoms Of Gynaecological Cancers You Need To Know About

Knowing them could save your life.
Malorny via Getty Images

No one likes speaking about cancer, especially since it’s something that will, unfortunately, affect most of us. But, speaking about cancer can spread more awareness which in turn can help and support all of us.

When it comes to cancers, it seems that most people don’t know much about gynaecological cancers (womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval, and vaginal).

Only 7% of people have knowledge of gynaecological symptoms before they personally experienced them or they affected a loved one, The UK’s leading gynaecological cancer charity, The Eve Appeal found.

They published a new survey to launch its annual fundraising and awareness-raising campaign Get Lippy which runs throughout May.

Though a high number of those surveyed knew little about gynaecological cancers, 38% said they wished they had been taught more about the gynaecological symptoms to look out for, either at home or at school, and over a third wished they had been taught more about gynaecological health conditions.

Shockingly, the survey found that there was a significant lack of knowledge about Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and cervical screening, the test which looks for the virus and helps prevent cervical cancer from developing.

HPV is responsible for 99.8% of cases of cervical cancer, nearly 70% of cases of vulval cancer, and over half of vaginal cancers. But, less than a quarter of women surveyed felt they had a good understanding of cervical screening before it happened to them or a friend or family member.

But HPV isn’t the only thing women should be concerned about, which is why The Eve Appeal has shared the 21 symptoms of gynaecological cancers that we should all know about.

Key signs and symptoms of gynaecological cancers

Womb cancer

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding (between periods, after sex, after the menopause or much heavier than is normal for you)

Ovarian cancer

  • Increased abdominal size and persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
  • Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain
  • Unexplained change in bowel habits
  • Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly, or feeling nauseous
  • Needing to urinate (wee) more regularly

Cervical cancer

  • abnormal vaginal bleeding (between periods, after sex, after the menopause or much heavier than is normal for you)
  • changes to vaginal discharge (foul-smelling)
  • pain or discomfort during sex
  • unexplained pain in lower back or between hip bones

Vulval cancer

  • A persistent vulval itch
  • Pain or soreness around the vulva
  • Thickened, raised, red, lighter or darker patches on the skin of the vulva
  • An open sore or growth visible on the skin
  • A mole on the vulva that changes shape or colour
  • A lump or swelling on the vulva

Vaginal cancer

  • bleeding after sex
  • bleeding after the menopause
  • vaginal discharge that smells or is blood stained
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • a lump or growth in the vagina that you or your doctor can feel a vaginal itch that won’t go away