Mattishall charity founder, Janet Clark, warns women about postmenopausal womb cancer risk
- Credit: Janet Clark
The founder of a Mattishall charity is advising other women to insist on seeing a specialist if they have concerns about their health, believing her recent cancer diagnosis should have been picked up sooner.
Janet Clark, co-founder of Gambian Aid Through Education, was told by doctors 10 years ago that her postmenopausal bleeding was nothing to worry about but last month scans showed she had two aggressive tumours in her womb.
And the fundraiser has spoken out to warn other women, saying: 'I don't want this to happen to anybody else.'
Mrs Clark, 74, said she suffered postmenopausal bleeding in 2007.
Doctors at Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital (NNUH) twice carried out a biopsy and told her it was nothing to worry about.
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She said: 'They told me: 'You have thickening of the womb. Come back if it [the bleeding] becomes unmanageable and we can talk about a hysterectomy.''
It was only an off-hand comment to a nurse during a routine blood pressure appointment this year that led to the cancer diagnosis.
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The specialist she saw said he could not believe the advice she had been given and that all postmenopausal bleeding was serious.
She said: 'The team I'm under now are excellent, and are fast tracking me onto treatment.
'I should have a hysterectomy in November, and if its successful, it should be the end of it.'
She has also been given good news this week that it seems that the cancer has been contained in her womb, and is entirely operable.
But Mrs Clark said anyone concerned about bleeding should take it seriously and insist on seeing a specialist.
'Don't ignore it - that's my message. Don't let it be swept under the carpet.'
A spokesperson for the NNUH said: 'We follow guidance from the British Gynaecological Cancer Society (BGCS) which advises that all women should be investigated with a trans-vaginal ultrasound scan if felt necessary.
'Post-menopausal bleeding is a common symptom, but still a worrying one. All women with symptoms of vaginal bleeding after having gone through their menopause, should see their GP and be referred to the hospital.
'We would not be able to comment on what was said to the patient 10 years ago.'
However, the hospital did confirm that a letter was sent to Mrs Clark's GP, dated May 15, 2007, which clearly stated that the patient should be referred back if the bleeding persisted after 3 months.
Mrs Clark said she was not made aware of any such letter by her GP.
Womb cancer statistics
NHS guidelines offer advice on womb cancer, also known as uterine or endometrial cancer, and postmenopausal bleeding.
Postmenopausal bleeding is defined as: 'bleeding that happens at least 12 months after your periods have stopped'.
The guidelines state: 'it's not normal to bleed at this time – even if it's just spotting – so don't ignore it.
'Make an appointment to see your GP as soon as possible. Cancer is always a possibility that must be ruled out.'
Cancer Research UK guidelines state that: 'the most common symptom of womb cancer is abnormal bleeding, especially in women who have stopped having periods'.
The charity's website states: 'about 9 out of 10 womb cancers are picked up because of post menopausal or irregular bleeding'.
Statistics for UK women with womb cancer state that over 75pc survive their cancer for 10 years or more.