After a recent routine visit to her gynecologist, actor and director Meagan Good, who stars in Amazon Prime’s Harlem, was faced with a terrifying uterine cancer scare. During her examination, her doctor discovered an abnormal growth in her uterus. After a biopsy of the cells, she was informed that the cells could potentially turn into cancer, and they were swiftly removed. As a result of the scare, she has joined the Spot Her campaign to help raise awareness about endometrial cancer, the most common type of uterine cancer. Through the initiative, she hopes to help end the silence surrounding endometrial cancer, which is on the rise, particularly among communities of color.
“Of course [my experience] was a bit traumatizing and scary, because the first thing I thought of was, ‘What if I hadn’t gone to this appointment? What if I just hadn’t gone this year, and whatever was there did develop and did become cancerous?,’” says Good. It also made her realize how little she knew about uterine cancers.
According to the American Cancer Society, endometrial cancer is the most common form of uterine cancer, resulting in an estimated 66,570 new cases and 12,940 deaths last year in the U.S. alone. Found in the lining of the uterus, it can occur more commonly among people who have gone through menopause; however, diagnoses are on the rise for younger people between the ages of 20 to 49 and even higher for Black women.
Oncologist Dr. Ginger Gardner explains that the terminology endometrial cancer can cause some confusion because it is actually unrelated to endometriosis. “Endometriosis is a different disease, where the lining of the uterus sits on the ovaries or other surfaces of the pelvis as a benign condition. Endometrial cancer however, is [a group of] abnormal cells sitting in the lining of the uterus which, left unchecked, can lead to cancer.” She advises to lookout for common signs including abnormal bleeding, spotting or brownish discharge after menopause, irregular or heavy bleeding before menopause, and pelvic pain or pressure as red flags.
Unfortunately for women who do experience and take note of any symptoms, they can be easily overlooked or mistaken for other conditions by doctors. Many patients have reported that their symptoms were primarily dismissed by healthcare professionals, or that they felt that they could not discuss these experiences due to the stigma around talking about gynecologic health. “If you look at the statistics, only 53% of Black women with endometrial cancer receive an early diagnosis, which is disturbing, shares Good.”
Dr. Gardner notes that when diagnosed and treated early, people with endometrial cancer may have a good prognosis; however, for those with late-stage cancer, the treatment options become more limited.
Good is hoping that sharing the initiative on her large platform will empower people across generations and cultures to spot the potential signs early and educate themselves. “I want to make sure we’re encouraging women to not just be reactive, but be proactive—because being proactive can literally be the thing that saves your life.”
Starting today March 30, 2022, Good is participating in the Spot Her virtual walk event, alongside the FORCE, SHARE, Black Health Matters and Eisai Inc. organizations, which continues through June 22, 2022. For every mile logged, Eisai will donate $1, up to $20,000. To participate in the virtual walk, visit www.CharityFootprints.com/SpotHerForEC to register.