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Poster Presentation: A Woman-to-Woman Approach to Increasing Knowledge about Gynecologic Cancer: CDC’s Inside Knowledge Campaign


CDC's Inside Knowledge: Get the Facts About Gynecologic Cancer campaign is designed to increase awareness among women and health care providers about gynecologic cancers. The principal communication objectives are to—

  • Raise awareness of the five main types of gynecologic cancer: cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar.
  • Encourage women to pay attention to their bodies and know what is normal for them, in order to increase recognition of warning signs and symptoms.
  • Encourage women to see a health care provider and ask about gynecologic cancers when faced with warning signs.


To inform campaign development, CDC conducted formative research, concept, and material testing. A total of 48 English and Spanish language groups were held with 408 women aged 40 to 60 years in seven cities across the United States.


Generally, women indicated a desire to learn more about gynecologic cancers. Participants were familiar with some types of gynecologic cancers, most notably cervical, ovarian, and uterine. However, they were largely unfamiliar with vaginal and vulvar cancers, gynecologic cancer symptoms and risk factors, as well as screening options. Cervical cancer is the only cancer for which population-based screening is recommended (using the Pap test), but women in the focus groups stated the belief that the Pap test screens for several types of gynecologic cancers and other conditions.

When shown creative concepts for print and broadcast public service announcements (PSAs) and posters, participants in both English and Spanish groups expressed a preference for—

  • Seeing "real" women of various ages, races, and ethnicities with whom they could identify, especially women who had survived or had a personal connection to gynecologic cancer.
  • A woman-to-woman approach.
  • A straightforward approach, such as women speaking directly to the viewer, and hopeful messages, implicit in ads showing healthy-looking women who survived a gynecologic cancer.

Research into Practice

CDC engaged partners to help identify women to feature in Inside Knowledge materials, including women of a variety of races and ethnicities who reflect a range of gynecologic cancer experiences.

CDC contacted 42 organizations and monitored Internet search engines for stories on gynecologic cancers and survivors, ultimately identifying 22 gynecologic cancer survivors. An interview guide was then developed to ensure all women were asked relevant questions about their cancer symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and current health status. Of the 22 women identified, 14 agreed to a telephone interview. CDC communications, medical, and scientific experts reviewed survivor stories to assess clinical details and whether cancer diagnoses, treatment, and prognoses were typical or atypical, or raised too many questions and red flags. Six women were selected to appear in campaign materials and on the Inside Knowledge Web site, and CDC worked with the women to ensure their stories were accurate and engaging.


Testimonials can be very compelling in health communications. As such, the Inside Knowledge campaign features "real" women as often as possible, including gynecologic cancer survivors of different ages, races, and ethnicities, and having different gynecologic cancers.

Download the poster presentation [PDF-2.7MB].

Citation: Gelb CA, Polonec L, Chu J, Wayman J, Mui S, Grella L. A woman-to-woman approach to increasing knowledge about gynecologic cancer: CDC's Inside Knowledge campaign. 2011; Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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