As we reach the end of ‘Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month’ and the national campaign dedicated to raising awareness of the disease in order to improve early detection and prevention, Medical Negligence Specialist, Claire Henderson, talks about what to do if you have concerns about any signs or symptoms.
As always, September has been a busy month. Many are returning to work after a summer holiday, getting children ready and back to school, and that is without displays popping up to remind us about Halloween and, that’s right, Christmas! With all that is going on, it is all too easy to let things slip to the bottom of your personal To Do List.
According to the Eve Appeal, over 22,000 women are diagnosed with Gynaecological Cancer each year, which equates to around 60 per day, and this is why I would like to explore what you should do if you have concerns about potential signs or symptoms.
My colleague, Micha Walden, wrote an article earlier this month looking at the types of Gynaecological Cancers and their symptoms - https://www.duttongregory.co.uk/site/blog/personalnews/gynaecological-cancer-awareness-henderson -and, as with all cancers, early detection is key which is why the first step is to contact your GP and seek an appointment as soon as possible.
Feeling embarrassed is a common obstacle, but GPs are trained professionals who regularly see patients with gynaecological issues. It is likely that your GP will examine you and arrange any relevant tests, which could include a CT scan, MRI scan and/or an ultrasound scan.
The nature of any symptoms, and any risk factors that need to be taken into consideration, will determine the waiting times for the tests. However, the general rule is that anyone presenting with symptoms which may indicate cancer should be seen as quickly as possible, within two weeks. It is incredibly important that you are seen within the relevant time scale and, if an appointment is offered to you, you attend.
When speaking with your GP about being referred for tests, it may be useful to ask them the following questions:
- Why am I being referred?
- Who am I being referred to, and is this urgent or non-urgent?
- What tests will be required?
- Who will give me the results and when?
Waiting for test results can be a very anxious time for many people as it can take a few days to a few weeks for results to be ready. If any results indicate cancer, further tests will be required to determine the size and stage of the cancer so that treatment plans can be considered. You should not wait more than 31 days from the date of diagnosis and decision to start treatment, to its beginning. The period between the date of your referral to a specialist and starting treatment should not exceed 62 days.
Do not be afraid to ask questions to ensure that you understand what you are being told and that you have enough time to process the information to make an informed decision about any treatment that you may need. This can be very difficult time and you are able to ask for a clinical nurse specialist, or a family member or friend, to be with you when discussing your diagnosis and treatment options. It may be useful to take a pen and paper to note down anything that you are unsure of, or of importance, so that you can ask questions at a later date if needs be.
Like with all cancers, early diagnosis and treatment is the best way to fight the disease. Raising awareness of potential warning signs, symptoms and knowledge of what to do next, I hope, will help save the lives of many women.
Further information on the different Gynaecological Cancers and screening, together with help available for those directly affected, can be found on the following websites:
If you, or someone you know, have experienced delayed or unsatisfactory medical care in relation to any Gynaecological Cancer, our team of specialist Medical Negligence Solicitors can help to pursue a claim for compensation.