Preventing cervical cancer

19.07.2021 Category: Cancer Author: Dr Belinda Griffiths

Women between the ages of 25 and 64 are invited for regular cervical screenings where a healthcare professional looks at the health of the cervix to detect any cell changes or abnormalities. However, in recent years the number of women attending their cervical screen has fallen, with women between 25-29 having the lowest attendance rates. This is deeply concerning as over 3000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and 99.8% of those cases are preventable. Prevention is always easier than curing, and the earlier you are aware of any cell changes, the easier it is to treat.

Why do some women not attend their cervical screenings?

One of our general practitioners, Dr Belinda Griffiths, has found that in her experience women don’t attend their cervical screenings for a number of reasons including: difficulties with taking time off work for a GP appointment, fear of embarrassment, and fear of the process being uncomfortable or painful. 

However, to combat these concerns, the NHS has launched at-home HPV kits. Dr Griffiths explains how they work – “The HPV test is highly sensitive so it separates out those who are HPV-positive and HPV-negative. Those who are HPV-negative will be considered ‘low risk’ for cervical cancer and will be asked to do a future test. Those who are HPV-positive will be deemed ‘high risk’ and be asked to attend for follow-up with a clinician whereby they will conduct a cervical screening to check the health of their cervix and investigate if any abnormal cells are present.”

These new tests are the same process as at-home STI tests whereby a simple swab collects the sample from the vagina. Having the option of this sort of test at home removes the fear some women may have surrounding the slightly more intrusive cervical screen.

What is HPV?

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common virus passed on via skin-to-skin contact, usually through genital contact. There are many types of HPV, most of which are harmless, don’t usually cause any symptoms and the infection will go away on its own. However, others are deemed ‘high risk’ as they can persist and cause cell changes which can lead to cancer. It is thought that these ‘high risk’ HPV strains are responsible for around 80% of cervical cancer cases, making the detection of HPV all the more important.

How can you prevent HPV?

You can be protected from certain HPV strains through vaccination. There are two HPV vaccines currently available in the UK: Gardasil which protects against 4 strains of HPV used in the NHS and the vaccine used here at the Fleet Street Clinic, Gardasil-9, which protects against 9 of the high-risk HPV strains.

When can you be vaccinated against HPV?

The NHS now routinely offers the Gardasil vaccine to girls and boys around age 12/13, before the age people generally become sexually active. However, the vaccination programme only came into full force in 2019, meaning many people are currently unvaccinated. It should be pointed out that adults can get vaccinated at any age and even if you have already been exposed to HPV, the vaccine can still offer protection against other strains to which you have not yet been exposed. 

It is a particularly good idea for people to get vaccinated before they attend university or before they go travelling on a ‘gap year’, as these are typically times where young people are more sexually active and therefore more likely to be exposed to HPV. 

It is important to note that getting the HPV vaccination most certainly doesn’t mean missing or not participating in HPV tests or cervical screenings. A combination of these preventative measures gives you the highest possible chance of preventing cervical cancer. 

Book your Cervical Screen or HPV vaccine online today.

HPV Vaccine Available For Boys and Girls

19.05.2019 Category: General Health Author: Dr Richard Dawood

What is HPV?

Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is the name of a group of viruses with around 200 different types, that is most commonly passed on via genital contact.

Although HPV is highly common, 90% of HPV infections go away by themselves and do not cause any harm. Most people with HPV never develop symptoms or health problems.

However, it is possible for HPV infections to persist and cause cellular change in your body. This can lead to:

  • Cancer of the cervix, vulva, and vagina in women
  • Precancerous lesions in men and women
  • Genital warts in men and women
  • Head and neck cancers in men and women

HPV vaccines have a well-established role in preventing cervical cancers as well as these other aforementioned conditions.

Who Should Be Vaccinated against HPV?

In theory, HPV vaccines are best given to young people before they become sexually active, and therefore before they can be exposed to HPV.

Individuals who are already sexually active might also benefit as they may not have yet acquired all of the HPV strains covered by the vaccine. Patients aged under 16 can only be vaccinated with their parents present.

Why Boys should receive the HPV Vaccine

  • About 15% of UK girls who are eligible for vaccination are currently not receiving both doses. This figure is much higher in some areas
  • Most older women in the UK have not had the HPV vaccination
  • Men may have sex with women from other countries which have no vaccination programme
  • Men who have sex with men are not protected by the girls’ programme
  • The cost of treating HPV-related diseases is high: treating anogenital warts alone in the UK is estimated to cost £58 million a year, while the additional cost of vaccinating boys has been estimated to cost about £20 million a year

Source: HPV Action 

To book an HPV vaccination for yourself or your child, you can book an appointment online. Or find out more information about HPV here.

New HPV vaccine, Gardasil 9, offer more protection

Read more

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (#CCPW)

14.03.2019 Category: Cancer Author: Dr Belinda Griffiths

This week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (#CCPW) and we’d like to remind all our patients that cervical cancer can be fatal – It is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under.

Current UK statistics state:

> 2 women lose their lives to the disease every day

> 9 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every day

> 75% of cervical cancers can be prevented by a smear test

Thousands of lives can be saved every year with better awareness and understanding of the symptoms of cervical cancer. Regular smear tests and having the HPV vaccine can dramatically decrease your chances of developing cervical cancer and will also assist in early detection.
Smear tests are extremely important and a major contributing factor to lowering the number of cervical cancer cases seen each year. On average, cervical screening helps save the lives of approximately 4,500 women in England every year, however, 1 in 4 women still don’t attend their smear test. 

Smear_Test-Cervical_Cancer_PreventionWeek-2019

Smear tests are a method of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix, (the entrance to the womb). The detection and removal of abnormal cells can prevent cervical cancer from developing. As with all cancers, the earlier a problem is detected, the better the patient’s outcome.

Information on Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is not thought to be hereditary.
Cervical screening is not a test for cancer as screening programmes help to prevent cancer by detecting early abnormalities in the cervix, so they can be treated. If these abnormalities are left untreated they can lead to cancer of the cervix (the neck of the womb).

Symptoms:

Cervical Cancer Symptoms - Fleet Street Clinic, London, Wellwoman Clinic

For more information: www.jostrust.org.uk

Book an appointment at our Well Woman clinic today

Doctors pay for HPV Vaccine to protect sons

19.05.2018 Category: General Health Author: Dr Richard Dawood

HPV vaccine unavailable to boys on the NHS

The HPV vaccine is now offered to girls aged 12-18 years in the UK for free by the NHS.

Since its introduction in 2008, it has already shown to be very effective in reducing the cases of cervical cancer in females*. But the HPV virus doesn’t only cause cervical cancer, it can lead to other cancers such as anal, head, neck and throat cancers. Men are as much at risk of these cancers as women, so why are boys ineligible to receive the HPV vaccine as part of the NHS vaccination schedule?

The BBC has reported the case of Jamie Rae today, to highlight the issue. Mr Rae is campaigning for the HPV vaccine to be introduced, after undergoing radiotherapy for his throat cancer which he believes could have been prevented if an HPV vaccine had been available.

The article also reports that Professor Francis Vaz, a head and neck surgeon at University College London Hospital, paid privately to vaccinate his three sons, to protect them from certain cancers like anus, penis, mouth and throat. He said he saw on a daily basis that cancers driven by the HPV virus had been increasing in the past decade.

“I regularly see the bad end of that spectrum, so I thought the vaccination would be suitable for my sons,”

– he said.

“It’s just unfortunate it wasn’t available for them on the NHS. I was happy to pay for it because I think it’s a good vaccine.”

Why boys should receive the HPV vaccine

  • About 15% of UK girls eligible for vaccination are currently not receiving both doses, a figure which is much higher in some areas
  • Most older women in the UK have not had the HPV vaccination
  • Men may have sex with women from other countries with no vaccination programme
  • Men who have sex with men are not protected by the girls’ programme
  • The cost of treating HPV-related diseases is high – treating anogenital warts alone in the UK is estimated to cost £58m a year, while the additional cost of vaccinating boys has been estimated at about £20m a year

Source: HPV Action

Our HPV vaccine page explains how get an HPV vaccine at Fleet Street Clinic.

FLEET STREET CLINIC – SPECIALIST VACCINE CLINIC

Fleet Street Clinic is a specialist vaccination clinic offering all vaccinations from travel jabs, to childhood immunisations to flu vaccinations programmes.

TO BOOK

You can book an appointment online.

*International Journal of Women’s Health

5 Facts About The HPV Vaccine

19.01.2018 Category: General Health Author: Dr Richard Dawood

The HPV Vaccine, Gardasil 9, is back in stock at Fleet Street Clinic.

The vaccine is available to men and women. It protects against a range of cancers including cervical, head and neck cancer and other HPV-related diseases including genital warts.

5 facts about the HPV (Human papillomavirus) :

  1. Nearly all cases of cervical and anal cancer and 70% of oropharyngeal cancers are related to HPV.
  2. HPV is one of the most common sexually-transmitted diseases, so common in fact that most sexually active men and women will have HPV at some point in their life.
  3. There are different strains of the virus and they can be categorised into low-risk and high-risk HPV.
  4. There is no cure for HPV; some people fight off the virus without any knowledge of having been infected, whilst the virus can lie dormant in others, remaining undetected for many years.
  5. The virus can eventually cause abnormal cell growth – cervical abnormalities in women, which is why regular cervical screening is so important.

In order to protect against the virus, the HPV vaccine is strongly recommended. For more information, visit our HPV Vaccine page.

BOOKING A Vaccination APPOINTMENT

You can book an HPV appointment online.

New HPV vaccine, Gardasil 9, offer more protection

Read more