World GO Day

Does September 20th ring a bell with you? It is World GO(Gynecologic Oncology) Day. It is a day to raise awareness on Gynecologic(Cervical, Ovarian, Uterine…) Cancers. Experts, patients, people from all around the world, GO for awareness and GO for action. They dance, do sports, wear purple lipstick and t-shirts, organize webinars with experts and patients… A very meaningful day to spread awareness on such a sensitive topic. 

The last 2 years of our lives have been all about viruses. COVID unfortunately had a drastic impact on our daily life and scientists expect more health issues to come up in the future. You obviously know COVID-19 by now, but have you heard about any other life-threatening viruses such as Human Papillomavirus? HPV is a virus that is transmitted mostly sexually and 80% of people catch it at least once in their life. It is capable of of causing cervical, anal, vulvar, vaginal, penile and some oral cancers. Fortunately, there are many ways you can protect yourself from the disease. There are several types of the virus and we can categorize them as high-risk type and low-risk type. If you catch a high grade HPV(ex. HPV-16, HPV-18 ) it can stay 10-15 years in the body and may lead to cancer. Almost 100% of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV. Additionally, low grade HPV may cause genital warts/condilomas. Experts recommend both boys and girls to get vaccinated in order to prevent the transmission of the virus to their partners and protect themselves. They can get vaccinated starting from age nine and it has no upper limit, and the vaccine will prevent many types of cancers as well as genital warts. HPV vaccine isn’t in the The National Immunisation Program (NIP) of Turkey (unlike US and Australia). This doesn’t mean you can’t get vaccinated. Your local pharmacy, or doctor can help you get vaccinated. Unfortunately, the vaccine can’t cure an already existing HPV infection, it can only prevent. Therefore, it is recommended to get vaccinated around the ages 11-12(before the body is exposed to the virus). Screenings are a secondary prevention method, they are also very important for adults for early diagnosis of the disease in order to take the necessary steps. The progression of the infection to cancer is usually very slow so early diagnosis is very important.

World GO Day celebrations are mostly organized by cancer related organisations. This year the topic is “GO for Communication”. It is very important to communicate with your doctor and family. Ask your doctor about HPV, cervical cancer; discuss HPV vaccination with your parents; talk to your friends about the virus and its effects and encourage them to get vaccinated… Information is a basis for communication. The more we learn and share, the more lives are likely to be saved. The celebrations start on 6th of July, International Kissing Day(related to our symbol, purple lips), until mid-October. You can help raise awareness by retweeting tweets of ENGAGe and ESGO, share Social Media visuals of @engage.esgo from Instagram or post yourself by wearing something purple!

“Information is power, but communication is the solution!” 

Here are some links that can help you educate yourself on the topic.

Learn more about World GO Day: https://www.worldgoday.org/

Learn more about HPV: https://engage.esgo.org/media/2018/10/HPV-dvoustrany.pdf

Learn more about HPV Vaccination: https://engage.esgo.org/media/2021/05/HPV-vaccination_English_corrections1_final.pdf

Youtube account of ENGAGe and ESGO for more informative videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSrW-qvA7Bh9vzA9chwvRgw

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