A woman who thought her ‘heavy periods’ were a part of life has been shocked to find out she has a rare form of cancer. Lydia Brain, 24, visited doctors for years before being diagnosed. Misdiagnosed as ‘a fibroid’, a ‘lump’ was ignored. After beginning treatment, Lydia is now speaking out. She believes that doctors must take women’s concerns more seriously.
Heavy bleeding early sign
Lydia’s problems began with heavy periods. But unlike many, they worsened over years. After several doctor visits, she finally had a scan of her womb. She was found to have a ‘fibroid’, a common and benign condition. But when symptoms worsened she began to worry.
“At one point I’d be getting through the largest size tampons and a night-time sanitary towel in about an hour’’ she told The Independent.
After further tests, she was found to be anaemic (low blood count) and referred for more investigations. Eventually, she was diagnosed with a rare form of womb cancer called inflammatory myofibroblastoma.
Symptoms not taken seriously
Lydia is not alone in her story. ‘Women’s problems’ are poorly treated. A combination of stigma and personal timidity are to blame. Lydia believes that her story should teach women to be more open about their concerns.
‘If issues with women’s vaginas and periods were taken more seriously, I could have been diagnosed sooner’
After repeated doctors’ visits, it’s easy to see why Lydia is adamant. Uterine cancer is diagnosed in 9000 women a year in the UK.
Incredibly rare womb cancer
Inflammatory Myofibroblastoma, also known as Inflammatory Pseudotumour, is an incredibly rare form of uterine cancer. With only 11 cases diagnosed, it is an unexpected find. With the youngest patient age 6, a high level of suspicion is needed for diagnosis. Symptoms include vaginal bleeding, bleeding after sex, tummy pain, swelling and the feeling of a lump. Although heavy vaginal bleeding is common and usually has a less severe explanation, it can be the only sign of cancer.
Uterine cancer is survivable if caught early. If limited to the womb the 5-year survival is 82%. If cancer has spread, this number drops off rapidly. Most tumours are ‘hormone responsive’, that is they grown when exposed to female sex hormones. Early symptoms are subtle, but difficult bleeding and pain can be suggestive. Most cancers of the womb are ‘endometrial’ and grow within a soft tissue lining of the womb. Treatment is surgery with or without local hormonal treatment.
It is important to note that Lydia’s form of cancer is extremely rare. The more common Endometrial Cancer typically affects those of a much older age. Discuss any concerns with your doctor.
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Sources and Further Reading
Any opinions above are the author’s alone and may not represent those of his/her affiliations. Any comment is based on the best available evidence at the time of writing. All data is based on externally validated studies unless expressed otherwise. Novel data is representative of the sample surveyed. An online recommendation is no substitute for seeing your own doctor and should not be taken as medical advice.
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