Research on gynaecological cancers: GRACI Foundation

Gynaecological cancers feel like “silent” cancers.

Unlike breast or bowel cancer, the various types of gynaecological cancers that may develop in a woman’s reproductive system – cervical, ovarian, womb, vulval, and vaginal – receive little public attention.
Yet more than 1000 New Zealand women a year develop gynaecological cancers and unfortunately for most, this can have a major impact on their lives and on those of their families. The numbers are increasing dramatically.
While they are often discussed as a group, each gynaecological cancer is distinct, with its own symptoms, risk factors and treatments. “Gynaecological cancers may be complex,” says Dr. Bryony Simcock, a Christchurch Gynaecological Oncologist. That is why seeking medical advice from a physician who is trained in gynaecological oncology is especially important. Some signs and symptoms to talk to your doctor about would be unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge especially after menopause, persistent abdominal bloating, itchy or bleeding skin on the vulva and bleeding after sex.”

Dr Simcock is passionate about giving gynaecological cancers a “voice” – more attention through well-conducted research to arm women with the information they may need to reduce their risks and to seek medical attention if symptoms arise.

Dr Simcock is a trustee of the GRACI Foundation, founded in 2010 by a small group of professionals with an interest in gynaecological oncology. GRACI stands for Gynaecological Cancer Research and Clinical Innovation. “Research is opportunity and hope,” Dr Simcock explains. “It is the key to progress and is most closely linked to improvements in patient care.”

The GRACI Foundation is dedicated to raising funds to support research. It now makes two – three grants each year from proposals sent in by researchers which are then assessed by independent experts. “Our aim is to establish a significant capital base so that we can use the interest to fund our ongoing research goals leading to better outcomes for all women with gynaecological cancer.”

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