Within the last week, a group of health professionals sent an open letter to their fellow specialists about the plight of those post-menopausal women reporting bleeding.
Post-menopausal bleeding indicates a gynaecological abnormality, usually a cancer growth within the womb.
The letter (BMJ 2010; 341:c7407) contains details about how many women reporting bleeding actually get referred for secondary care. Referral rates for patients with postmenopausal bleeding ranged from 66.4% in 55-64 year old patients to 40.1% in those over 85.
Last year the Eve Appeal highlighted the low profile from which gynaecological cancers suffer. Their campaign (with contributions from cancer sufferers and oncology nurses and specialists) focused on the low number of post menopausal women reporting bleeding to their GPs.
Gynaecological cancers are the world’s fourth largest cancer killer of women, with over 1 million women worldwide being diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer every year. Of the gynaecological cancers, womb cancer is now the UK’s most common, with 7,500 cases diagnosed nationwide.
The Eve Appeal, in conjunction with the National Forum for Gynecological Oncology Nurses (NFGON), are focused on improving the chances of women everywhere in beating these killers, by work in improving prediction, diagnosis and timely treatment.
The latest plea by health professionals highlights how much work has to be done – not only in getting more women to see their GPs in such circumstances but also in making sure those women are getting the treatment they need to beat gynaecological cancer.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley recently promised an improvement to the care framework within the NHS, which, if implemented properly, would improve detection and survival rates for womb cancer sufferers. It remains to be seen whether the financial pressure on the NHS, as with other public organisations, will be conducive to improving even the most vital of services.
To get more information about any of the gynaecological cancers, please visit the Eve Appeal at www.eveappeal.org.uk.