Poor experiences of women in Wales have been shared to inform an inquiry into gynaecological cancers.
Gynaecological cancers are the 4th most common cause of cancer death amongst women in Wales. These include womb (uterus), ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal cancers.
In 2021, 373 women in Wales died from gynaecological cancers. This was made up of 50 cervical cancer deaths, 120 from uterine cancer, and 203 from ovarian cancer.
The Health and Social Care Committee is undertaking an inquiry into gynaecological cancers, particularly looking at the experiences of women with symptoms, how they are listened to and treated by healthcare professionals, and how services are there for them after diagnosis. This comes as only 34 per cent of gynaecological cancer cases in Wales meet the Single Cancer Pathway target of starting treatment within 62 days from the first point of suspicion.
Following an extended period gathering evidence from women with a recent gynaecological cancer experience, the inquiry begins its oral evidence phase on Thursday 27th April.
Chief Executive at Tenovus Cancer Care, Judi Rhys MBE, will open the video evidence session. Judi said:
“We welcome the steps taken by the Committee to capture the testimonies of women across Wales with a gynaecological cancer experience and are pleased we could bring these voices to the forefront of the inquiry.
“Through the course of this evidence-gathering period we have heard concerning - and at times harrowing - stories from women who have felt ignored, dismissed, and their dignity compromised at an already overwhelming time of their lives. While the majority of patients receive good care, one poor experience is too many. I want to pay tribute to these women who have bravely shared their cancer experiences.
“This is a systemic failure of women which deserves the attention of the Committee. We encourage Members to reflect on these testimonies with compassion and reach findings that will help to ensure women found in similar situations in the future do not face similar experiences or outcomes.
“Our services continue to be here for anyone who needs them, offering information, advice, and specialist support to everyone affected by cancer.”
Head of Policy and Campaigns at Target Ovarian Cancer, Rachel Downing said:
"Target Ovarian Cancer welcome the Committee's focus on gynaecological cancers. The stories shared with the Committee today reflect the stories we hear all too often, which has recently been evidenced in our Pathfinder Wales research. Concerningly, women with ovarian cancer do not feel heard, or that they have enough time to discuss their diagnosis with their team. This combined with not enough awareness of symptoms, diagnosis which often come too late when the disease is more difficult to treat and the worryingly low lack of emotional support for women which is desperately needed. We hope that this inquiry marks a step forward in improving lives for those with gynaecological cancers in Wales.”
Other oral evidence sessions will be held at subsequent meetings during the summer term. Lowri Griffiths, Director of Support Policy & Insight at Tenovus Cancer Care, and Rachel Downing, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Target Ovarian Cancer, will give evidence on behalf of patients and the Wales Cancer Alliance at the next session on 10th May.