MyCouncilWorks

Wellbeing

Wellbeing Wednesday – 11 August 2021

Jane Fowler

Happy Wednesday everyone! Sorry to say that it is so wet and windy today that we took the decision to postpone our planned wellbeing walk at Kilmory. I know we are all pretty tough and used to the rain, but it was pretty blustery as well….. We’ll get another arranged shortly – so apologies to those of you who came prepared for all weathers with your wellies and waterproofs.

You’ll see below that Jim Smith, our Head of Road and Infrastructure Services was on his bike up to Kilmory last Thursday for cycle to work day, despite the terrible weather. As a keen cyclist, Jim has covered many miles in all sorts of weather conditions – so thank you Jim for the photo! I took one look at last Thursday’s weather and decided that I am a fair weather cyclist, so waited for the sun to come out…

This week we are focussing on cervical cancer awareness – a really important topic for us all to be aware of – for ourselves and for our loved ones. Screening has been shown in evidential studies to be the most effective way of identifying and treating cervical cancer early. This early diagnosis and treatment gives the best chance of recovery, so please, if you have not had, or have missed a screening appointment, contact your GP to make sure that you get screening when it is due.

As ever, please keep your wellbeing feedback coming in – we love to hear from you about your suggestions for topics to cover or wellbeing activities you find helpful, interesting or just plain fun.

 

 

Cervical Cancer Awareness

There are more than 200 different types of cancer with 1 in 2 people in the UK experiencing cancer at some point in their lifetime.  This week we highlight cervical cancer.

 

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a cancer in the cervix, the opening of the womb from the vagina.  It is possible for anyone with a cervix (women, transgender women, people who are non-binary who were assigned female at birth, and cis gender women) of any age to develop cervical cancer.

Traditionally the condition mainly affects those who are sexually active between the ages of 30 and 45 years, however, Cancer Research UK data demonstrates that the peak age of incidents has reduced to 25 to 29 years of age.

How common is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer accounts for 2% of all new cancer cases. Since the early 1990s, cervical cancer incidence rates have decreased by 25%, however, over the last decade, incidents rates have remained stable.  Despite the presence of a well-organised cervical screening programme in the UK and the introduction of human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccinations for schoolchildren, the incidence of cervical cancer is not expected to significantly decrease over the next few years.

What are the symptoms?

Cancer of the cervix often has no symptoms in its early stages and may only be detected after abnormal cervical screening (smear test).  Symptoms can be subtle and may be attributed to other benign gynaecological conditions or there may be no symptoms at all.  When symptoms are present the most common ones are:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Vaginal bleeding after sex
  • Vaginal bleeding after the menopause.

Other symptoms may include painful sexual intercourse and abnormal vaginal discharge.  Abnormal vaginal bleeding does not mean that you have cervical cancer but you should see a GP as soon as possible to get it checked out.  If a GP thinks that you might have cervical cancer, you should be referred to see a specialist within two weeks.

What increases your risk of cervical cancer?

Human Papilloma virus (HPV) – almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV. This is a very common virus that can be passed on through any type of sexual contact with a man or a woman.   There are more than a hundred types of HPV, many of which are harmless, however, some types can cause abnormal changes to the cells of the cervix.  Sadly this can eventually lead to cervical cancer.  There are two strains of HPV (HPV 16 and HPV 18), which are known to be responsible for most cases of cervical cancer.  They do not have any symptoms, so individuals will not realise that they have these strains.  Using condoms during sex offers some protection against HPV but it cannot always prevent infection. This is because the virus can also spread through skin-to-skin contact of the wider genital area.  The HPV vaccine has been routinely offered to girls aged 12 and 13 since 2008 and since 2019 and it has also been available for boys of the same age.

What is the best way to protect yourself from cervical cancer?

The best way to protect yourself is by attending for cervical screening (previously known as a “smear test”).  Cervical screening checks the health of your cervix. It is not a test for cancer, it is a test to help prevent cancer.  The NHS cervical screening programme invites women between the ages of 25 to 64 to attend and you get the results by letter usually in about two to six weeks. The letter will explain what happens next.  Women aged 25 to 49 are offered cervical screening every three years and those aged 50 to 64 are offered screening every five years.

During cervical screening, a small sample of cells are taken from a cervix and checked under a microscope for abnormalities.  In some areas, the screening sample is first checked for human papilloma virus (HPV).  It important to remember that an abnormal cervical screening test result does not mean you have cancer.  Most abnormal results are either due to signs of HPV, the presence of treatable precancerous cells or both, rather than cancer itself.

You should be sent a letter confirming when it is your time for your screening appointment. Contact your GP if you think that you may be overdue.

Tests to diagnose cervical cancer

If the results of your cervical screening are abnormal, or you have symptoms that could be caused by cervical cancer, further tests will be undertaken.  These may include a procedure called a colposcopy, a LLETZ procedure or a cone biopsy.

What is the treatment for cervical cancer?

This depends on whether the cancer is diagnosed at an early or late stage.  Treatments include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.  The treatment depends on where in the cervix the cancer is, how big it is, whether it has spread anywhere else in your body and your general health.

Survival from cervical cancer

Survival depends on many different factors:

  • Type of cervical cancer
  • Stage of cancer.

The later the stage, the poorer the prognosis.  When diagnosed at its earliest stage around 95% of women will survive the disease for five years or more, compared with five in 100 of women when diagnosed at the latest stage. Cervical cancer survival is improving and has increased in the last 40 years in the UK.

You can find out more by clicking on the following links:

 Jo’s Trust:https://www.jostrust.org.uk/

  NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-cancer/

  Cancer Research: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cervical-cancer

Update on Cycle to Work Week

It was great to see people embracing the cycle to work initiative last week, despite the change in the weather!  Jim Smith, Head of Roads and Infrastructure sent us these pictures following his arrival at Kilmory – well done Jim!

We would love to see your photos of your cycle to work for future Wellbeing Wednesdays, please email: wellbeing@argyll-bute.gov.uk

As always, please continue to let us know your thoughts and ideas about the items featured in our Wellbeing Wednesdays each week and send us your suggestions for future topics – we love to hear from you.

The Wellbeing Team:  wellbeing@argyll-bute.gov.uk