Vulval Cancer Health and Wellbeing Event at Belfast Trust


As part of the Transforming Gynae Oncology Pathways Project, a greater focus is being placed on the Health and Wellbeing of Gynae Cancer Survivors.

To this end a Vulval Cancer Health and Wellbeing Event was held on the 29th April at Belfast City Hospital, to focus on the needs of patients after diagnosis and treatment for vulval cancer. The event was held to coincide with April being Vulval Cancer awareness month.

The event was attended by patients from throughout Northern Ireland, as treatment for this rare cancer takes place in BHSCT.

Patients and staff heard presentations from a consultant Gynae Oncology surgeon, a CNS, lymphoedema and continence physiotherapists and the Belfast Trust Macmillan Support and Information Centre Information Manager, Margaret McManus.

An extremely brave patient Julie Clarke, told her story of living with this condition and its treatment, and the effect it has had on her life....she even took the courageous step to speak with the media. Her story can be read in the Belfast Telegraph via the following link: Click Here 

Pictured: Margaret McManus, Information Mgr, Macmillan Support & Information Centre, Mary McWilliams, Macmillan Support Worker, Julie Clarke, Patient speaker, Elish McColgan - Macmillan Gynae Oncology CNS, Edel Aughey - Macmillan Service Improvement Lead, NICAN

“Only around 33 women hear the words 'You have vulval cancer' in Northern Ireland every year. Seven years ago Julie Clarke was one of them. The 48-year-old from Belfast has now taken the courageous step to speak out about her devastating diagnosis in a bid to break the silence and taboo around the rare gynecological cancer.”

Women with vulval cancer consistently say that they had never heard of the condition, and had not considered persistent vulval symptoms to be an indication of anything serious. They often report embarrassment as an issue in delaying them attending their GP.

The risk of developing vulval cancer increases with age. It is becoming more common in younger women, where it is often linked to human papilloma virus infection (HPV).

The most common symptoms of vulval cancer are:

  • Itching, burning or soreness of the vulva that doesn’t go away.
  • A lump, swelling or wart like growth on the vulva
  • New thickened, raised, red, white or dark patches on the skin of the vulva.
  • A sore or ulcerated area on the vulva
  • A mole that changes shape or colour
  • Pain in the vulva or burning pain when passing urine.

These symptoms can happen with conditions other than vulval cancer, but it is important to get any unexplained, persistent symptoms checked by your GP.

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