Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month
September is Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month. To mark it, Consultant Gynaecologist Narendra Pisal shares the five top things that you can do to reduce your risk of getting any gynaecological cancers:
1. Have regular smears. Smear tests look out for abnormal cells well before they become cancerous. By treating any abnormality, the risk of developing cervical cancer is reduced significantly. Please see your GP for a smear test if you haven’t had one in the last 3 years. Please look at our blog on how you can make smear tests more comfortable.
2. HPV vaccination. This is currently being offered to girls and boys in secondary school. Vaccination against Human Papilloma Virus reduces the risk of cervical cancer by nearly 90%. It will make a huge difference to the incidence of cervical, vaginal and vulval cancer as well as cancer of the throat. It is also available at a later stage but only privately. A lot of women think that HPV vaccination can only be taken before becoming sexually active, but evidence suggests that there is still a significant benefit up to the age of 45. If you would like to consider having the HPV vaccination, please contact us.
3. Give up smoking. Smoking is known to affect immunity and also increases risk of various cancers including cervical, vaginal and vulval cancer. There is a lot of help available to quit smoking; please see your GP or contact us and we can put you in touch with the right steps to give up smoking.
4. Maintain a healthy BMI. We know that increased body mass index (BMI) is associated with endometrial cancer. This is because of the oestrogen produced in the adipose tissue which leads to endometrial stimulation. It is therefore important to maintain a healthy BMI, particularly if you’re going into your 40s, 50s and 60s. This is best achieved through a combination of nutrition and exercise. Our nutritionist Laura Southern can give you advice on this; if you would like to speak to her please contact us.
5. Look out for any unusual symptoms. These symptoms are: bleeding between periods or bleeding after sex or bleeding after menopause. Any irregular bleeding should be reported to your doctor, particularly if it is persistent. We can also see you for any of these symptoms. A lot of medical insurance companies do not need a GP referral if you have one of these symptoms, and you can come and see us directly with their authorisation on a rapid access basis. Other unusual symptoms to look out for are bloating, lower abdominal discomfort, indigestion (particularly in your 40s and 50s, which sometimes can be an indication of ovarian cancer symptoms). Please see your GP or come and see us at London Gynaecology to organise a scan and a blood test called CA125.
We work with two charities: Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and The Eve Appeal, who have very informative websites as well as online forums. Please visit them and support them so that they can continue doing their work of increasing awareness. We would like to work with you to keep you healthier for longer.