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Kate Middleton’s cancer diagnosis could ‘inspire change’ in women’s health

Princess of Wales’ cancer message has prompted a surge in visits to the websites of relevant charities and the NHS

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Kate Middleton’s revelations about her cancer diagnosis could inspire change in women’s health, experts have said, a amid surge in online cancer symptom searches.

Visits to the NHS website cancer page rose by 373 per cent following the announcement that Princess Kate has been diagnosed with the disease.

Figures from NHS England show that in the 24 hours after the princess revealed she was undergoing treatment last week, there were 2,840 visits to the page on cancer – nearly five times as many as over the same period the previous week.

Now, experts have indicated that Kate’s diagnosis could increase global awareness and advance innovation in women’s health.

“Kate’s announcement could inspire and accelerate innovation in women’s health, the way Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy procedure did after she learnt that she carried the BRCA gene,” Dr Olubukola Ayodele, consultant medical oncologist at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, told Femtech World.

Cancer diagnosis in public figures, Ayodele said, has always been a “catalyst” for spreading awareness.

“CRUK and Macmillan have seen a spike in people visiting their websites to read about signs and symptoms of cancer. Hopefully, [Kate’s diagnosis] would encourage women to come forward sooner if things are not feeling right.

“Unfortunately, incidental diagnosis of cancer is quite common, especially after a routine surgical procedure and only after examination of the surgical specimen, that cancer is found,” she added.

“The incidence of cancer in young women under the age of 50 is on the increase and there are twice as many cases in females compared to males in this age group.

“It is imperative that we focus on the message that young people need to be aware that they are also at risk. Cancer is no longer an older person disease.”

Erin Medlin, gynaecologic oncologist at Colorado Permanente Medical Group, said: “Celebrities and public figures do play a role in destigmatising women’s health issues as well as other health issues. We have seen similar trends before when celebrities have disclosed cancer diagnoses or treatments, as well as other illnesses.

“When celebrities disclose an illness, it can help others seek more information and raise awareness. It may bring forward those who have been suffering to seek more information or share their stories.”

Celebrities, Medlin said, could also raise awareness in policy makers, legislators and industry, bringing funding to research campaigns through public awareness.

However, she said a celebrity’s story does not translate to an individual patient’s or person’s story.

“Patients should always seek guidance from their physician or health care provider, and seek out reliable sources for information.”

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said high-profile cancer cases can encourage people to take action and seek help.

“There were over 200,000 visits to our cancer information web pages on the day of the Princess’s diagnosis. This was a 15 per cent increase compared to the day before the announcement.

“These figures show how high-profile cancer cases can act as a prompt to encourage people to find out more or think about their own health.”

Noting that visits to Macmillan Cancer Support’s online information and support pages were at the highest weekend levels since the first Covid lockdown following the Princess of Wales’ cancer message, Gemma Peters, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said the “Kate Middleton effect” could have a real-world impact.

“We hear from people every day who are worried about how cancer will affect their loved ones, and how best to support each other through it. In sharing her news the Princess of Wales has raised awareness of these worries and will be helping to encourage others who have concerns, to seek support.”

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Singapore-based fertility centre sets up grant for couples struggling to conceive

This grant aims to support eligible Singaporean couples facing financial and family planning challenges

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A Singapore-based fertility centre is to set up a grant to support couples struggling to conceive.

Virtus Fertility Centre Singapore (VFCS) announced that it would set up a grant to support aspiring parents on their IVF journey.

The initial grant is set for at $50,000 SGD and, depending on the take-up rate over the next 12 fiscal months, VFCS plans to increase the pool to benefit more couples in the subsequent years.

The grant will cover the main costs associated with IVF treatments and procedures, including embryo retrieval and transfer, laboratory services and embryo prep. It will also be applicable to fresh and frozen egg transfers.

As grant recipients, their samples will similarly be given a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, a service VFCS provides for all its patients. It locks the patient’s identity with the respective sample. The RFID identifies gametes—eggs, sperms, or embryos—at every stage of the IVF treatment.

According to VFCS, the grant will also include access to counselling services and wellness resources.

“I’ve witnessed firsthand the emotional toll and occasional frustration that infertility can take on individuals and couples, especially for some who are still young and healthy,” said Dr Roland Chieng, medical director at VFCS.

“The common deterrent of going for fertility treatment is always associated with the cost, more so in a private care setting where their only source of funds is through Medisave.

“By alleviating their financial concerns, we hope ReadyBaby Fertility Grant empowers patients to approach their IVF journey, focusing on their clinical needs and working towards a healthy pregnancy and less on financials.

“With access to the necessary treatments and support, patients can embark on their path to parenthood with renewed confidence, knowing they have the clinical resources and guidance they need to navigate this journey,” he added.

Tim Kwan, VFCS’s managing director, said: “We believe every couple deserves the opportunity to experience the profound joy of parenthood.

“With the ReadyBaby Fertility Grant, we aim to support aspiring couples on their IVF journey and help them bring new life into the world.”

To be eligible for the grant, applicants must be married Singaporean couples diagnosed with medical infertility by a fertility specialist and first-time parents who have not tried IVF before.

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Canadian insurer launches partnership to support women’s health

Members of the Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross will have access to a dedicated women’s health platform

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Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving

The Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross (MBC) has partnered with the virtual health platform sanoLiving to support women on their menopause journey.

Currently, more than 10 million Canadian women are navigating menopause, often with little support and misinformation about treatments.

With sanoMidLife, sanoLiving’s online menopause platform, Medavie Blue Cross members will have access to a national women’s health platform tailored to provide care and services for women going through the menopause.

The service includes personalised assessments, access to clinicians, treatments, educational content, peer support and AI assistance.

“Many women lack support for their menopause transition due to the misunderstandings of what is ‘normal’ and misinformation about treatments,” said Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving.

“Women are seeking solutions that allow them to thrive during midlife. We are thrilled about our alliance with Medavie Blue Cross, and our shared commitment to providing access to care that empowers women.”

Anita Swamy, senior vice president operations at Medavie Blue Cross, added: “We’ve heard first-hand from our members about the need for more menopause-related services.

“Our partnership with sanoLiving creates an innovative way to increase access to care for our members as we continue to focus on the support women need to navigate their benefits and provide forward-thinking options to support their health.”

Studies report one in 10 women exit the workforce due to unmanaged symptoms. Early onset of menopause and symptoms before age 45 can elevate the risk of health issues like heart disease, diabetes, dementia and osteoporosis.

With this new service, Medavie Blue Cross and sanoLiving are aiming to open up the conversation around menopause, reduce stigma and work towards giving women the access to the care they need.

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US start-up raises US$2.32m to address pelvic health concerns

The Flyte intravaginal device aims to treat stress urinary incontinence and strengthen pelvic floor muscles

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The US women’s health start-up Pelvital has raised US$2.32m in funding to address “unanswered” pelvic health issues.

Minnesota-based Pelvital aims to restore pelvic health with its first product Flyte, an FDA-cleared intravaginal treatment for stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and weakened pelvic floor muscles.

The device, originally developed by physicians from the Arctic University of Norway, uses mechanotherapy, a treatment modality that when paired with an active pelvic floor contraction stimulates tissue regeneration and the creation of neuromuscular memory.

The company will use the funding to speed up the commercialisation of Flyte and raise awareness of pelvic health issues.

“Completing this round is an important step in continuing Pelvital’s unwavering dedication to provide women with innovative solutions for pelvic health, including the treatment of SUI,” said Lydia Zeller, president and CEO of Pelvital.

“This funding will play a crucial role in accelerating our commercialisation of Flyte with a strong emphasis on expanding payor coverage and enhancing clinical education and clinician awareness.”

With this final close, Zeller said, Pelvital would welcome new investors including Pier 70 Ventures, Life Science Angels, Tech Coast Angels Orange County, and Blue Pacific Fund.

Preetha Ram, managing partner at Pier 70 Ventures, would join the Pelvital board of directors.

“Joining Pelvital’s board alongside this investment round is truly an honour,” Ram shared.

“Pier 70 and I are thrilled to be part of this transformational opportunity, as Pelvital’s mission aligns beautifully with our dedication to support disruptive technologies that shake up the status quo in healthcare.

“Pelvital’s pioneering work is shaping a future where women’s health receives the attention and innovation it deserves with novel medical devices like Flyte.”

Oscar Moralez, founder and managing partner of Boomerang Ventures who led the investment round, said: “We are thrilled for the successful completion of this round as we aim to tackle the most pressing healthcare challenges.

“Our participation aims to address the chronic underfunding in women’s healthcare. Investing in Flyte, a truly groundbreaking treatment, addresses underserved pelvic health issues like SUI and contributes to raising vital awareness.”

Two published clinical trials have validated Flyte’s safety, efficacy and durability of treatment effect for women with SUI.

Most recently Pelvital published a paper in Therapeutic Advances in Urology, showing that 71 per cent of study participants achieved dry or near dry conditions as evidenced by a reduction in 24-hour pad weight after using Flyte for between two and 12 weeks.

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