Following new survey findings showing that only 7% of people have knowledge of gynaecological symptoms before they personally experienced them or they affected a loved one, Martin Whitfield MSP is joining the charity in urging people to get lippy and loud during May.
The survey was conducted by the UK’s leading gynaecological cancer charity, The Eve Appeal, to launch its annual fundraising and awareness-raising campaign Get Lippy, which runs throughout May.
Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) surveyed 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 of them (35%) wished they had been taught more about gynaecological health conditions.
Also significant was the 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.
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 (23%), and only 5% of women had a good understanding of HPV.
HPV is an extremely common virus which can be contracted by any skin-to-skin sexual contact. Usually, people’s immune systems can clear the virus on their own however high-risk HPV infections which don’t clear can lead cells to turn cancerous. There is a national HPV vaccination programme which targets certain strains of HPV to reduce the risk of related cancers developing.
Martin Whitfield MSP said:
“Many gynaecological cancers are preventable and treatment is more likely to be successful if caught early. However, research consistently shows that too many people are either not aware of gynaecological symptoms or, even if they are, may feel too embarrassed to seek help.
“I welcome The Eve Appeal’s Get Lippy campaign and its aim of encouraging everyone to talk about gynaecological issues to help raise awareness and confidence in dealing with these subjects.”
Athena Lamnisos, The Eve Appeal CEO, said:
“These results highlight a worrying gap in both knowledge and awareness. When it comes to health issues, we know that fear, stigma and embarrassment are reduced when a subject is normalised and understood – that basic health education needs to start at an early age.
“That’s why Get Lippy is such an important campaign – we need to help everyone have normal conversations about gynaecological issues. Knowing basic information about signs, symptoms and cancer risk factors such as the HPV virus, is vital to supporting people to keep themselves well.”
Find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.getlippy.org.uk.