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Women living with cancer feel stigmatized, says new report

Highlights need for increased education, awareness and support

Cancer

Only 20% of women with cancer believe they receive enough support, a new report from Merck KGaA has found. 

The report, named Supporting Women With Cancer, presented findings from a global survey of 4,585 women in 23 countries. This was designed with input from the Union of International Cancer Control (UICC).

It highlighted the lack-of-awareness surrounding the symptoms of cancer and the availability of screening programmes, reporting that less than half (45%) were aware of the signs of cancer prior to be diagnosed.

It also found that nearly half (47%) had never attended a screening programme to see if they were at a higher risk of developing cancer. A quarter of women surveyed also perceived themselves to be more stigmatized than men by their disease, highlighting a gender gap among cancer patients.

Another significant finding from the report was that 34% of women reported that they had received no support from their employer following diagnoses, and less than half (45%) of those of childbearing age were offered family planning support from a healthcare professional.

The report highlights the need for increased cancer education for women and for more attention to be given to ensuring the right support is provided. According to the report, many women underestimated the risk factors associated with cancers that are not commonly thought of as ‘women’s cancers’, including lung and colorectal cancers.

It also highlighted generation and income gaps, with older women and those in lower- and upper-middle income countries found to be less aware of the symptoms of cancer prior to diagnosis.

“We must deploy every tool we have at hand to increase women's awareness of cancer symptoms. Not just of cancer types which are unique to women, but also of others like lung, colorectal and stomach cancers,” said Cary Adams, CEO of the UICC.

The early diagnosis of cancer can increase the chance of successful treatment, says the report, so greater awareness and understanding of cancer screening programmes are vital for women.

This comes following a report from The Lancet Oncology which shows that the UK is trailing behind other high-income countries in its cancer survival rates. This highlights the increasing need for early prevention methods and education to combat the higher incidence of mortality in key cancers.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

25th September 2019

From: Research

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