Let’s Talk About Below-the-Belt Cancers

When the calendar turns to September, it’s a good reason for anyone touched by gynecological cancer to share their story because September is Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month (GCAM).

For those of us in the Cervivor community, September is a significant opportunity to pull out our advocacy boots (and dust them off if they haven’t been used in a while), put below-the-belt cancers in the spotlight, and pick up our momentum to carry us through the remainder of the year. 

Why is GCAM so important?

  • Late-stage cervical cancer is being diagnosed at higher rates in the United States. Historically, cervical cancer has disproportionately impacted Black and Hispanic women. In this study, the overall prevalence of the disease was higher in Black women and there is a large increase in diagnoses for Non-Hispanic White women (CNN).
  • Uterine cancers are on the rise, especially in Black women. It is quickly making its way to becoming the third most common type of cancer among women (NY Times).
  • Fertility and quality of life are still impacting those diagnosed with gynecologic cancers (Oncology Nurse Advisor).
  • Intersectionalities in sexual orientation as well as race and ethnicity show significantly lower odds of undergoing routine cervical cancer screenings (Health Day).
  • Reducing social detriments can improve quality of life, increase survival rates, and close the gap in racial disparities (ASCO Post).

We know there are so many more to list which is why Cervivor continues to be actively engaged in gynecologic cancer awareness. We’re committed to sharing our stories, spreading awareness, and showing the people impacted by gynecologic cancers. We’re facing these disparities head-on!

How can you get involved this GCAM?

  • Share Cervivor content during GCAM. We will have plenty of graphics, articles, and other resources to share with your social media network, across all platforms. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest.
  • Wear Teal and White on #TealandWhiteTuesday. Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram and post your photos in the comment of our Facebook posts!

  • Share your Cervivor Story. Have you shared your story with us on Cervivor.org? Sharing your story on our site is a powerful tool for getting your story out there. Our template guides you with questions, to help you share your cervical cancer story in a way that is personal to you. You can share as little or as much as you like. Once you have submitted your story and it is published, you will be able to share the link with others. Need help getting started? Send us an email at info@cervivor.org!

  • Contact local media to share your Cervivor story. Many times, local news stations, newspapers, and neighborhood publications are looking for content. Reach out to them and share your story. If your story is on Cervivor.org, share the link with them when you reach out.

  • Host a Cervivor Meet-Up. Meet-Ups are local gatherings of Cervivors, networking and sharing in a social environment. You can hold a Cervivor Meet-Up in a coffee shop, restaurant, bar, or anywhere you feel is a welcoming and relaxed place for Cervivors to talk and share. If you’re interested in hosting a Cervivor Meet-Up in your area, contact us at info@cervivor.org. *Cervivor recommends following the latest CDC recommendations for any gatherings.*

  • Become a Partner in Purpose. From care team to community member, your role in cervical cancer awareness, treatment, support, and prevention is of the utmost importance to us. Interested? Sign up here.

  • Donate to Cervivor or host a fundraiser on behalf of Cervivor.

We look forward to a successful GCAM and can’t wait to see how our Cervivor Community comes together to bring awareness to gynecologic cancers!

Hispanic Heritage Month

Did you know that Hispanic/Latina women have the highest incidence rate of cervical cancer in the U.S.? They undergo significantly fewer Pap tests than non-Hispanic white and black women and are less likely than women of other races/ethnicities to return for recommended follow-up after an abnormal Pap test.

These statistics from the American Cancer Society and Centers from Disease Control (CDC) are instructive to us at Cervivor to guide some of our educational efforts.

National Hispanic Heritage Month (celebrated Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 to correspond with the independence of many countries in Central America) honors Hispanic history, culture and contributions. Communities across the country mark the month with festivals and educational activities.

We want to halt cervical cancer in its tracks, in America and around the world. To do that most effectively, we need to be aware of the disparities in cervical cancer incidence and mortality among populations of women. 

For example, in the U.S., black women (followed by Hispanic women) have the highest death rate from cervical cancer. Mortality (death) rates of cervical cancer among Hispanic women are 50 percent higher than those of non-Hispanic women, and incidence rates among Hispanics are twice the rates of non-Hispanic women. Different populations bear different burdens of this disease, for different reasons.

Data from the American Cancer Society show that Hispanic women are less likely to get regular Pap tests. Hispanic and Latino Americans amount to an estimated 17.8% of the total U.S. population, making up the largest ethnic minority. This makes it a focus for our educational messages about cervical cancer prevention with Pap testing, HPV testing and HPV vaccination. This makes it a focus for our advocacy, education and personal Cervivor stories

What can we do as Cervivors?

  1. Familiarize yourself with Spanish-language educational resources and share them as part of your education and advocacy work. There is a downloadable Spanish-language “foto-novela” from the American Sexual Health Association, for example, fact sheets from the National Cancer Institute and cervical cancer screening patient information sheets from the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists. (These and many more Spanish language resources are available here.)
  2. Join Cervivor Español: Private Facebook Group For Latina Cervical Cancer Patients & Survivors.
  3. Support local and national cancer control and prevention programs and policies aimed at decreasing disparities in cervical cancer mortality. For example: health reform efforts to reduce discriminatory practices against cancer patients and survivors; policies to include no-cost cervical cancer screenings and HPV vaccination as a mandated part of insurance coverage, and initiatives to expand HPV vaccination. 
  4. Support the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP): The CDC’s NBCCEDP provides uninsured and underinsured women access to no-cost screening and diagnostic services, as well as a pathway to cancer treatment. Support federal and state funding for this program. Advocate for more funding to expand the reach of this lifesaving program. 
  5. Share your story. We’d love to have more representation from Latina Cervivors on our site. Submit your story here and come to one of our Cervivor Schools to learn more about bringing education and advocacy to your community. 
  6. Share Cervivor content on your social media platforms. You never know who might need this information.

We are all bonded by this disease. We are all motivated to ensure that no one else has to go through what we’ve gone through. Let’s be aware of the racial disparities in cervical cancer, address them head on, and put our support, stories and voices behind programs that can change cervical cancer statistics and save lives. 

Let’s celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month by recognizing the power and strength of the Latino community and to doing what we can to expand education about cervical cancer screening and prevention.