IN a new weekly feature, North-East GP Dr Zak Uddin examines a topical issue, and answers readers’ questions. This week, Dr Zak looks at one of the less well known cancers to coincide with Mouth Cancer Awareness Month

Question

I’ve been called for my routine cervical smear, but I don’t want to go. The last time was painful and I’ve only slept with my husband, so I don’t think I’m really at risk , am I? – Angela, 40

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Answer

I empathise with your feelings towards having a smear. It sounds like your last experience was unpleasant and that has stuck in your mind. However, the cervical screening programme is vitally important for picking up cancer at a point before you have symptoms, and if cancer or pre-cancerous cells are found at this point, you will likely require less treatment, with a greater chance of complete cure. Unfortunately monogamy is not a guarantee against cervical cancer, and cervical cancer has been seen in women who have not had sex, although the risk is much less.

Question

I was told at my last health check that I was clinically obese, which upset me a lot. I’ve always been on the big side, but I was told that if I don’t lose weight, I’m putting myself at risk of heart disease and diabetes – Mark, 45

Answer

It sounds like you have always struggled with your weight, which is an increasing problem in today’s fast paced society. Obesity is linked with many physical diseases, as well as poor self-esteem. Your health check will have looked at your bloods, and if no problems have been found, it is important to address your diet and exercise. To lose any significant weight may take at least six to twelve months. If you hadn’t made any progress by then, your GP may discuss referring you to a Specialist Weight Management clinic. It is important to say that many people get excellent results from this, without ever needing a weight-loss operation.

  • If you have a question for Dr Zak, please email askdoctorzak@gmail.com, visit the website doctorzak.co.uk or follow him on Twitter @AskDoctorZak
  • Dr Uddin’s advice is provided in good faith and in accordance with currently accepted evidence. However, this content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always seek the advice of a GP, or other qualified health provider, regarding a medical condition.