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.
Holidays are a time to relax, unwind and have fun!
However, this excitement can lead to us making decisions we may not usually make when we are at home. If you have unprotected sex whilst abroad whether it is oral, vaginal or anal you are at risk of catching sexually transmitted infections.
You could be at risk of catching these common STIs: HIV, chlamydia, HPV, herpes, syphilis and gonorrhoea.
What can you do to prevent an STI?
Abstaining from sex is the most reliable way to avoid infection. However, if you wish to be sexually active follow some of the tips below:
- Use a condom from start to finish every time during sex including oral, vaginal and anal.
- Get vaccinated to protect against diseases such as Hepatitis B and HPV.
- Do not assume that your partner is STI-free. Talk openly and discuss your sexual health histories.
- Taking drugs and/or alcohol can lead to bad decisions. Be cautious when having sex whilst inebriated as you are more likely to take risks. These include not wearing a condom or having sex with someone you usually would not.
What are the symptoms of an STI?
Symptoms are different depending on the infection. Some diseases also do not cause any symptoms which makes them very hard to spot. If symptoms do occur, they could be some of the following:
- Pain when you urinate or have sex
- Discharge from the vagina, penis, or anus
- Unexplained rash, sore, or ulcer on your skin, genitals, or throat
- Jaundice (yellow colour of the skin and eyes)
What do you do if you think you have an STI?
Having an open and honest conversation, discussing your sexual health with your doctor is a good start to help guide you towards any tests or medication that you may need.
Long-term problems can be prevented by testing for STIs early and also prevent the spreading to other partners.
If you are worried that you may have an STI you should:
- Not have sex with anyone. This will reduce the risk of spreading the disease to anyone else.
- See a doctor or nurse as soon as possible.
- Discuss your sexual history and international travel with the doctor or nurse as some diseases are more common in some countries.
- If you have a positive result notify your recent partners. They may also be infected and unaware.
Fleet Street Clinic offers a discreet and trusted sexual health service including confidential sexual health advice, instant testing, and comprehensive STI screening.
You can book a sexual health appointment online.
STUDENTS URGED TO GET MENINGITIS ACWY VACCINATION
Public Health England is encouraging students and university freshers to get the Meningitis ACWY vaccination before they start college or university this autumn. Cases of meningitis have risen rapidly since 2009 due to a particularly virulent strain of the Men W & Men B bacteria.
The Men ACWY vaccine is given by a single injection into the upper arm and protects against four different strains of the meningococcal bacteria that cause meningitis and blood poisoning (septicaemia): A, C, W, and Y.
WHAT IS MENINGITIS W?
Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningococcal meningitis (Men W) is a highly serious form of bacterial meningitis that can lead to septicaemia. It is spread by droplets that come from a person who is infected with the bacteria.
Although the strain is most likely to affect babies, statistics reveal that older children, teenagers, and adults are also at risk. In recent times, cases amongst normally healthy teenagers have spiked and the fatality percentage is higher with Meningitis W than it is with the most common strains, Meningitis B and C.
Early symptoms of Meningitis W include headaches, fever, vomiting, cold feet and hands or muscular pain. All of which could be mistaken for stress or a heavy night out, which is one of the theories as to why students are such high-risk.
Protection against this strain of Meningitis W is provided through the Meningitis ACWY vaccine. Only one dose is required. We also carry an excellent stock of the Meningitis B vaccine and can provide both vaccinations at the same time should you require it.
Other Vaccines that are recommended for students starting University:
- Every year different flu strains circulate and infect millions of people. Being exposed to a new pool of infections in University accommodation can increase the risk of catching the flu. Having the flu jab before you go to University will help protect you against the flu and stop you getting sick.
- Mumps is a highly contagious viral infection which is spread in the same way as the flu. Coughing, sneezing and kissing can rapidly spread the infection, especially in the close quarters of student accommodation.
- Measles is a very infectious viral infection which is also spread by coughing and sneezing. There have been multiple outbreaks of Measles around the world including the UK this year, so it’s important to make sure you are protected as you socialise with new peers.
Both Mumps and Measles can be prevented by safe and effective vaccination, MMR.
- If you are from outside the UK, you should be vaccinated against tuberculosis (TB) before you enter the UK. A weakened strain of tuberculosis, the BCG Vaccine, is injected to protect against the infection. Those unsure of their immunity can have a simple Mantoux test to confirm.
- HPV is a common virus that is passed on via genital contact. There are more than 100 HPV types which infect genital areas. Sometimes they cause no harm and the infection can go away on its own. However, the virus can persist and cause cells to change which can lead to genital warts or some forms of cancer. The HPV vaccine is offered at our clinic for girls and boys to protect against HPV.
- Tetanus is a rare condition caused by bacteria entering a wound. We recommend making sure you are up to date with your DTP vaccinations and boosters before leaving for university. This vaccine protects against tetanus as well as Diptheria and Polio. Don’t let a cut or burn ruin your freshers week.
VACCINATION AT THE FLEET STREET CLINIC
Fleet Street Clinic offers a friendly environment and a team of experienced medics to administer all vaccinations. We meet rigorous quality management standards to ensure we offer you the highest standards of clinical care: you can feel confident you are in safe hands.
Secure your peace of mind by ensuring you are protected. Get your vaccines before university starts to receive protection in time.
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
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 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).
For more information: www.jostrust.org.uk
November is Mouth Cancer Awareness Month, and Fleet Street Clinic has collaborated with the charity campaign MouthCancer.org to help raise awareness of the disease.
For more information about Mouth Cancer, you can read the Q&A’s below.
What is Mouth cancer?
Mouth cancer relates to cancer found in the lips, tongue, cheek and throat.
There are, on average, almost 7,800 new cases of mouth cancer diagnosed in the UK each year. The number of new cases of mouth cancer is on the increase, and in the UK has increased by over half in the last decade alone.
Who is at risk?
Mouth cancer is twice as common in men than in women, though an increasing number of women are being diagnosed with the disease. Age is a factor, with people over the age of 40 more likely to be diagnosed, though more young people are now being affected than previously.
People with mouth cancer are more likely to die than those having cervical cancer or melanoma skin cancer. Prognosis is good if the disease is caught early.
What can cause mouth cancer?
Although mouth cancer can affect anybody, around 91% of all diagnoses are linked to lifestyle. This means that by amending our lifestyle choices, we can help cut the chances of developing mouth cancer.
There are many known contributors to mouth cancer:
Many cases of mouth cancer are linked to tobacco and alcohol.
If tobacco and alcohol are consumed together the risk is even greater.
- Over-exposure to sunlight can also increase the risk of cancer of the lips.
- Poor diet is linked to a third of all cancer cases. Book a Dietitian Consultation
- Experts suggest the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), transmitted through oral sex, could overtake tobacco and alcohol as the main risk factor within the coming decade. Book Your HPV Vaccine
What is the link between HPV and cancer?
There’s growing evidence that an increasing proportion of cancer is caused by HPV infection in the mouth. Around 1 in 4 mouth cancers and 1 in 3 throat cancers are HPV-related, but in younger patients, most throat cancers are now HPV-related.
HPV doesn’t directly give you cancer, but it causes changes in the cells it’s infected (for example, in the throat or cervix) and these cells can then become cancerous.
The HPV vaccine, Gardasil 9 is available at Fleet Street Clinic for both girls and boys. The vaccine was developed to fight cervical cancer, but it is likely that it’ll also help to reduce the rates of mouth cancer.
It is advisable to give the HPV vaccine before sexual activity starts to get the best protection. The underlying principle being there has been no exposure to any HPV strains yet. You can, however, receive the vaccination later on in life, this is down to personal choice. We’d recommend a GP consultation to discuss the HPV vaccine prior to booking.
What are the signs of mouth cancer?
Mouth cancer can appear in different forms and can affect all parts of the mouth, tongue and lips. Symptoms of mouth cancer include:
- A painless mouth ulcer that does not heal normally
- White or red patch in the mouth or on the tongue
- Any unusual lumps or swellings that linger
- 1 or more mouth ulcers that don’t heal after 3 weeks
- Pain when swallowing
- A feeling as though something’s stuck in your throat
Be mouth aware and look for changes in the mouth:
It is important to visit your dentist or your GP if these areas do not heal within three weeks.
How can mouth cancer be detected early?
Mouth cancer can often be spotted in its early stages by your dentist during a thorough mouth examination. If mouth cancer is recognised early, then the chances of a cure are good.
It is also advised to self-check regularly for any noticeable changes in your mouth, the inside of your cheeks, the front and sides of your neck, colour and texture changes of your tongue, changes to your lips and finally, lumps and swellings on your head and neck.
How can I keep my mouth healthy?
- It is important to visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend, even if you wear dentures. This is especially important if you smoke and drink alcohol.
- When brushing your teeth, look out for any changes in your mouth, and report any red or white patches, or ulcers, that have not cleared up within three weeks.
- When exposed to the sun, be sure to use a good protective sun cream, and put the correct type of barrier cream on your lips.
- A good diet, rich in vitamins A, C and E, provides protection against the development of mouth cancer. Plenty of fruit and vegetables help the body to protect itself, in general, from most cancers.
- Cut down on your smoking and drinking.
Some viruses thrive in the winter and are easily spread during cold weather. The lack of sunlight also means there is less Vitamin D in your body during winter, which can lower your immune system. This makes it harder for the body to fight off infections, resulting in a higher chance of sickness, even amongst the healthy.
If you’re planning on avoiding the flu this year, going on holiday, starting University, having a child or just living a healthy lifestyle in general, then there are a number of extremely important vaccines you should know about.
1. Flu Vaccine:
Now is the perfect time to have your flu jab, to ensure protection for the entire winter. Our adult flu vaccines are already in stock including Quadrivalent, FluAd and egg-free. Due to distribution delays, needle-free Quadrivalent vaccines for kids will be arriving soon.
– Find out more about the Flu Vaccine
2. MMR – Measles, Mumps and Rubella:
Many people who are now adults have never been vaccinated against measles, mumps or rubella, either from concerns over misinformation during the 1990s or because they simply missed out on getting protected. As a result, there has been an alarming rise in cases and outbreaks, with several deaths. Unfortunately, this year the UK also lost its ‘Measles Free’ status. Two doses are needed for protection, and it is never too late to be vaccinated!
– Find out more about the MMR Vaccine
There’s no need for any child to go through the misery of the chickenpox. It is entirely preventable with a vaccine that is still not yet available on the NHS, Varicella. This vaccine can be given to children over the age of one year. 2 doses are recommended for full protection.
– Find out more about the Chickenpox Vaccine
Shingles is a horrible reactivation of the chickenpox virus in adults who have had chickenpox during childhood. It consists of a painful, blistering rash. The pain can linger for months or years but it is also preventable. Shingrix is a relatively new vaccine which provides the best protection against Shingles. It offers up to 90% immunity. Supplies worldwide are limited but The Fleet Street Clinic is one of the first medical practices in the UK to make it consistently available.
– Find out more about the Shingles Vaccine, Shingrix
5. HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) Vaccine:
HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer but also causes other genital, head & neck cancers. The national programme offers all 12- and 13-year-olds in school the Gardasil HPV vaccine. HPV-4 protects against 4 types of HPV. There is no “catch-up” programme for older children and adolescents.
At Fleet Street Clinic, we offer Gardasil 9. It offers greater protection against 5 additional types of HPV. In our opinion, if you have not received the HPV vaccine yet, you are better to get the HPV- Gardasil 9 vaccine to benefit from the extra protection it offers.
– Find out more about the HPV Vaccine, Gardasil 9
6. Whooping Cough:
Childhood vaccination does not give lifelong protection, and newborns are especially vulnerable. Vaccination is recommended during pregnancy, and may also be advisable if you have a close family member who is pregnant, or if you’re likely to be in close contact with their newborn baby.
– Find out more about Whooping Cough
We offer Meningitis ACWY and Meningitis B vaccines. This vaccine is recommended to all those who fall outside the age groups currently targeted by the NHS or have an important deadline for protection.
– Find out more about Meningitis ACWY and Meningitis B vaccines
8. Hepatitis B:
Hepatitis B is spread by blood and body fluids. In most other developed countries, it has been a standard part of the childhood vaccination schedule for many years, but in the UK it has only just been added to the schedule at birth and infancy. There is no “catch-up” programme for older children and adolescents. We strongly believe this vaccine should be offered more widely – all young, sexually active adults ought to be protected.
– Find out more about Hepatitis B
We strongly recommend the Prevenar pneumonia vaccine for those aged 65 and over. Pneumonia can affect people of any age, but it’s more common and can be more serious, in certain groups of people, such as the very young or the elderly. Anyone with a past history of pneumonia, asthma or lung disease should also consider this vaccine. Anyone can get a pneumococcal infection, but not everyone is offered the pneumococcal vaccine on the NHS. Prevenar pneumonia vaccine protects against 13 of the most common strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.
– Find out more about the Pneumonia Vaccine
At the Fleet Street Clinic, we are well known for offering the full range of travel vaccines, always in stock. But if I had to pick just one vaccine I would never want to be without, it would be rabies. Protection is cheap, easy, safe and long-lasting – but expensive and hard to find if you are ever unlucky enough to be bitten abroad. I was once attacked by a dog in a remote part of Peru, and have had to look after dozens of travellers who have been in similar situations.
– Find out more about the Rabies Vaccine
Get in touch…
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
You can book an appointment online.
Gardasil 9 Available Now
Exactly ten years ago, the Fleet Street Clinic became the first practice in the UK to offer the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, even before it became available on the NHS. The new vaccine (Gardasil 9), offers protection against a total of nine HPV strains. This most recent vaccine has been licensed in the USA since December 2014, but is only now being launched in the UK. It is of course available first at the Fleet Street Clinic.
The new HPV vaccine supersedes Cervarix, the 2-strain HPV vaccine introduced as part of the NHS programme, as well as Gardasil, the 4-strain alternative that replaced it. The NHS programme currently targets just adolescent girls, but the Fleet Street Clinic strongly believes this vaccine should be offered more widely, and that there should be a focus on boys as well.
HPV infections are the most common sexually transmitted infections. More than 40 HPV types can be spread through direct sexual contact. Of these, about a dozen, including HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58, are high-risk—that is, persistent infection with these HPV types can cause cellular changes that may progress to cancer, including cervical, anal, penile, vaginal, vulvar, and oropharyngeal cancers. HPV types 16 and 18 are responsible for approximately 70% of all cervical cancers and HPV types 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58 are responsible for another 20% of cervical cancers.
Gardasil 9 protects against infection with HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58 – described in an editorial in theNew England Journal of Medicine as a “milestone in expanding the coverage of cancers associated with the human papilloma virus (HPV)”.
Gardasil 9 is licensed in the UK but is not likely to become available on the NHS for several months. The NHS does not normally offer HPV vaccines to boys or men.
You can find out more about HPV here.
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) :
- Nearly all cases of cervical and anal cancer and 70% of oropharyngeal cancers are related to HPV.
- 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.
- There are different strains of the virus and they can be categorised into low-risk and high-risk HPV.
- 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.
- 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.