Talking the talk takes on new urgency this spring as Ginger Gardner, MD, FACOG, a gynecologic oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and Chair of the Foundation for Women’s Cancer (FWC), teams up with Hollywood actress, director and women’s health activist Meagan Good (“Harlem”).
Together, they’re taking on endometrial cancer as spokeswomen for the Spot Her campaign, which launched March 31 and runs through June 3, 2022.
“We have a lot to talk about here,” Dr. Gardner says, diving into the statistics.
- Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer diagnosis in the U.S., and the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths among women.
- Endometrial cancer may occur more commonly in post-menopausal women, but diagnoses are on the rise among women between the ages of 20 to 49.
- Only 53% of Black women with endometrial cancer receive an early diagnosis.
The disease’s disproportionate impact on women of color dictates the campaign’s early focus. Nearly five million Americans have learned about endometrial cancer through Spot Her media coverage – Associated Press, Yahoo Finance, television stations from New York to Chicago, “TheGrio,” “Essence,” etc. – plus social media shares/tags.
“It’s been unbelievable!” Dr. Gardner says during a recent weekday “break” in her MSK office and blue scrubs. “We had 21 back-to-back interviews on March 31. I’m talking about vaginal bleeding on live television. That’s not the norm, but it needs to be. It’s time that we raise the national discourse about gynecologic cancers because the opportunity for early diagnosis, effective treatment and advancing research for these diseases really matters.”
Megan Good leverages her actress/advocate status and social-media star power to bring a personal perspective to “Spot Her.”
During the March 31 media sprint, Good discussed a pelvic exam during which her doctor found abnormal cells in her uterus. After doctors removed the abnormal cells, she has been able to stay clear of disease.
“My takeaway was the gift that I was seeing my gynecologist regularly,” Good shared during a recent interview with Popculture. “That my mother was encouraging me, that we were able to get in front of it and be proactive instead of reactive. And that is what I want for every woman.”
Annual pelvic examinations and open conversation with health care providers about symptoms (including abnormal vaginal bleeding and pelvic pressure) are the gateway to preventive care, and can provide an opportunity for an early diagnosis, Dr. Gardner explains. Biopsies, ultrasounds and D&C are common next-step procedures for women experiencing these symptoms.
Gynecologic oncologists have an inside-out understanding of endometrial cancers, particularly the rare and aggressive types that are diagnosed with higher frequency among women of color. This in an important area in which gynecologic oncologists are gaining new ground through FWC investments and commitment to research.
“We now know so much more about these diseases, and yet there is much work ahead to reduce the burden of this disease for all women, and particularly for women of color,” Dr. Gardner says. “The FWC remains active and fully committed to its three core pillars of Awareness, Education and Research for gynecologic cancers. The work of the Foundation, in collaboration with our partners and our entire community, will shape a new future together!”
Now, Dr. Gardner and Meagan Good hope that everyone following Spot Her will walk the walk for endometrial cancer awareness this Spring through the campaign’s virtual run/walk. For every mile logged by registered Spot Her participants, Eisai donates $1 between Facing our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE) and SHARE Cancer Support, partner organizations that support women with endometrial cancer (up to $20 per walker/runner).