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The Doctor; Doctor Gareth Smith is here to answer all your health queries. Write to him at Dr Gareth, Sunday Mail, One Central Quay, Glasgow G3 8DA. Email g.smith@sundaymail.co.uk.



My mum has recently been diagnosed with a type of skin cancer called a squamous cell carcinoma. I am terrified that this will spread and she will need chemotherapy. Can you tell me about her chances? I can't without knowing the full details of her case. A squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a malignant skin tumour but it is much less aggressive than a malignant melanoma. It is caused by chronic sun damage and sometimes by a virus known to cause warts. If caught early on it is removed surgically and there is no need for further treatment. If the cancer has spread to local lymph nodes then further treatment may be required. It has a 90 per cent five-year survival rate if caught early.

I am getting married in two months. The problem is that my periods come regular as clockwork and I am due on just at my wedding. Is there anything I can take to stop my period? The simplest thing is to take the combined pill without a break. If you are not on the pill then your GP can prescribe a hormone tablet called norethisterone. The dose is 5 mg three times a day starting 3-4 days before a period is due. It can be continued for up to two weeks or so until you want to have a period. Your period will then normally begin 2-3 days after stopping it. Norethisterone is normally safe to take. Some women have side-effects such as bloating, stomach upset, breast discomfort and reduced libido (sex drive). Good luck for the big day!

I have a horrible lump on my face under my nose that has been getting bigger. My GP says it is a pilar cyst. I want it removed but I am a bit scared. What happens? A pilar cyst is a benign growth that may be caused by a hair follicle blocking and filling with a substance called sebum. The cyst can usually be easily removed by a simple operation under local anaesthetic. The surrounding skin is numbed by injecting some local anaesthetic. A small incision is made over the cyst. Typically, the cyst can be easily pulled out. The wound is then stitched up. A small scar will result. Sometimes, after the removal of a cyst, it gradually regrows in the same site under the scar. I am 60 and have a really embarrassing problem. I have a really itchy bottom. It is driving me crazy. What could be causing it? This is a really common problem and is called pruritis ani. It can have several causes. It could be something really simple like threadworms, which are very easily picked up from undercooked food. Check your stools and see if you see any. The treatment is available over the counter. It could be thrush, which can be cleared with Canesten cream. If neither work, try using soap to wash yourself. If it persists let your doctor have a look.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 9, 2011
Words:494
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