Sexism is causing thousands of UK women to die from preventable cancers every year, a new report claims.
According to research into gender inequalities in cancer, unequal power dynamics in society are negatively impacting the way women engage with cancer prevention, care and treatment.
The new Lancet Commission found that gender inequality and discrimination influence women’s rights and opportunities to avoid cancer risk factors.
It also impedes your ability to seek and obtain a timely diagnosis and quality cancer care, reducing your chances of survival.
Although cancer is a leading cause of premature mortality, women’s health care often focuses on reproductive and maternal health, they said.
An estimated 24,000 women in the UK die from preventable cancer (file image)
They found that women are not fairly represented in research trials or in leadership roles in the cancer workforce.
Academics conducted a global analysis of premature deaths from cancer among people aged 30 to 69.
When broken down by country, they estimate that 24,000 women in the UK die from preventable cancer.
They suggest that six of these 10 premature cancer deaths among women in the UK can be avoided through prevention and earlier diagnosis, while the remaining 40 per cent by improving access to timely, quality treatment.
Highlighting gender bias in cancer care, the researchers said women may face a wide variety of factors that can “restrict their rights and opportunities to avoid modifiable cancer risks and impede their ability to seek and obtain a prompt and accurate diagnosis.” quality cancer care.
They said “patriarchy dominates cancer care, research and policy-making” and called for sex and gender to be included in all cancer-related policies and guidelines.
They said smoking, high body weight and drinking alcohol are among the preventable risk factors for women in the UK.
However, only 19 per cent of women attending breast cancer screening in the UK are aware that alcohol is a risk factor for the disease.
Unequal power dynamics in society are negatively affecting the way women engage with cancer prevention, care and treatment, according to research into gender inequalities in cancer (file image)
In total, they found that about 2.3 million women die prematurely from cancer each year in the 185 countries studied.
According to findings published in the journal The Lancet Global Health, around 1.5 million deaths could be avoided through prevention or early detection, and 800,000 deaths could be prevented if all women worldwide could access care. reference against cancer.
Dr. Ophira Ginsburg, senior advisor for clinical research at the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Global Health and co-chair of the commission, said a “feminist approach to cancer” is needed to restore balance.
She said: ‘Globally, women’s health is often focused on reproductive and maternal health, aligned with narrow anti-feminist definitions of women’s value and role in society, while cancer remains grossly underrepresented.
‘Our commission highlights that gender inequalities significantly affect women’s experiences with cancer. To address this, we need cancer to be seen as a priority issue in women’s health and call for the immediate introduction of a feminist approach to cancer.’
Co-author Professor Nirmala Bhoo-Pathy, from University Malaya and Queen’s University Belfast, said: “Gender norms mean that women are often expected to prioritize the needs of their families at the expense of their own. health, which sometimes leads to postponing seeking medical attention. .
“This may be exacerbated because gender norms also exclude men from participating in child care in many settings, meaning it is difficult for a mother to find child care while she seeks care for her own health needs.” .