GENERAL PRACTICE

About HPV

There are over 100 different types of HPV, including some that affect the genitals. Genital HPV is similar to the virus which causes warts on other parts of the body.

Genital HPV is so common that it could be considered a normal part of being a sexually active person. Most people will have HPV at some time in their lives and never know it. You may become aware of HPV if you have an abnormal Pap smear result, or if genital warts appear.

HPV infection is very common and in most people it clears up naturally in about 8-14 months

What does HPV have to do with cervical cancer?

A few of the many types of HPV have been linked with causing abnormalities of the cervix and in some cases the development of cancer of the cervix. It is important to remember that most women who have HPV clear the virus naturally and do not go on to develop cervical cancer.

In a small number of women, the HPV stays in the cells of the cervix. When the infection is not cleared, there is an increased risk of developing abnormalities. In very rare cases, these abnormalities of the cervix can progress to cancer. When cervical cancer develops, HPV is found in almost all cases. Having regular Pap smears is the best way to ensure that any changes are monitored and managed to protect your health.

If you have early cell changes due to HPV, there is a h3 likelihood that these changes will clear up naturally in 8 to 14 months. This, and the fact that cancer of the cervix takes around 10 years to develop, your doctor may recommend simply having another Pap smear in 12 months time.

HPV Vaccination

The cervical cancer vaccination does not protect all HPV types that cause cervical cancer and therefore it is important that vaccinated women continue with regular Pap screening. All women over 18 who have ever had sex are advised to have a Pap smear every two years, even if they no longer have sex. If a woman starts sexual activity at a younger age, screening should start within two years of first sexual intercourse.

As the most common type of cervical cancer usually takes up to 10 years to develop, there is little advantage in having a Pap smear more frequently than every two years. Your general practitioner may recommend more frequent Pap smears if a previous smear showed significant cell changes or you experience problems, such as bleeding or pain after sex.

Screening for breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer that affects women in Victoria. Please ask your doctor for information regarding regular breast examinations (checking for lumps) or if you have any concerns.

Breast Screen Australia services provide FREE screening to all women over 40 and specifically targets women aged 50-69 years. There are currently over 500 screening locations via fixed, relocatable and mobile screening units covering urban, rural and remote areas. Women over 50 should call 13 20 50 every two years to book their FREE screening mammogram at a screening and assessment service nearest to them.

STD Screening

In women who feel that it is relevant to them, sexually transmitted disease screening can be conducted during your consultation. As STDs can occur without the woman experiencing symptoms, screening is offered as part of a women’s health check, as is a discussion about safe sex practices.
Women are also invited to discuss other matters that may be of concern to them.

These may include:

  • Contraceptive Options
  • Menopause
  • Sleep
  • Mood disorders or symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Other preventative health measures such as blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes checks.
  • Men’s health

Our Doctors are sensitive to the difficulty some men have in discussing these issues and are experienced in managing them.

What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the prostate that form a lump (tumour). In time, without treatment, it may spread to other organs, particularly the bones and lymph nodes, which can be life threatening. Generally at the early and potentially curable stage, prostate cancer does not have obvious symptoms. This makes it different from other benign prostate disorders, which may result in urinary symptoms.

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

In the early stages of prostate cancer, there may be no symptoms at all. As prostate cancer develops, symptoms can include the need to urinate frequently, particularly at night, sudden urges to urinate, difficulty in starting urine flow, a slow interrupted flow and dribbling afterwards, pain during urination or blood in the urine or semen.

Please note that these symptoms are not always signs of prostate cancer. They can also be symptoms of other common and non-life threatening prostate disorders. Men who experience these symptoms should make an appointment at the clinic immediately to determine the cause and best treatment.

What testing methods are available?

Two simple tests can be done by a doctor:

The Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) – most men who have had the DRE test said it was a simple, painless exercise.

The Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test – this test measures the amount of PSA in the blood. PSA blood test is not a cancer specific diagnostic test however it will alert doctors to abnormal growth in the prostate.

A combination of both a DRE and PSA blood test is recommended. These tests should be considered as part of a general male health check annually from 50 years of age or 40 if there is a family history of prostate cancer.