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Beating Bowel Cancer – Don’t wait until it’s too late

Missy Tysoe February 6, 2017

Beating Bowel Cancer – DON’T WAIT UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE

February marks Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Bowel Cancer is the second most common cause of cancer related deaths in Australia. Around 15,000 people are diagnosed each year. There are both modifiable (things you have control over) and non-modifiable risk factors. Non-modifiable risk factors include; age, family history and pre-existing medical conditions. The good news is; medical check-ups, diet and lifestyle can be modified to reduce your risk, as outlined below.


The Digestive System

The GI tract (gastrointestinal tract) is the system of organs which processes nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins and water) from foods and then passes waste out of the body.

The GI tract is made up of the oesophagus, stomach and the small and large intestines. The colon and rectum together are known as the large bowel. The colon absorbs water and the rectum passes waste through the body.


What is Bowel Cancer?

When your doctor talks about bowel cancer (also known as colorectal cancer or colon cancer) they are referring to cancer of the colon or rectum.

Most bowel cancers develop from tiny growths called ‘polyps’. Not all polyps, known as adenomas, can become cancerous (malignant). Over time some polyps can become cancerous.

Cancer can narrow and block the bowel or cause bleeding. In more advanced cases, the cancer can spread beyond the bowel to other organs.


What to look out for.  

SYMPTOMS of bowel cancer

  • A persistent change in bowel habit, such as looser, more diarrhoea-like bowel movements, constipation, or smaller more frequent bowel movements.
  • A change in appearance of stools.
  • Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding.
  • Anaemia, unexplained tiredness or weight loss.
  • Abdominal pain.

Reduce the Risk.  



If you are experiencing any symptoms of bowel cancer, or are at risk due to age or family history, please see your Doctor for initial screening or refereal. Call  4304 1333 to make an appointment

Author: Melissa Tysoe | Stakeholder Engagement & Marketing Officer | Reliance Health


For more information and downloadable fact sheets, visit

Healthy smile, healthy you: The importance of oral health for good health

Missy Tysoe August 4, 2016

Healthy smile, healthy you: The importance of oral health for good health

It’s dental health week (1st August-7th August)

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Research suggests that the health of your mouth mirrors the condition of your body as a whole. For example, when your mouth is healthy, chances are your overall health is good, too. On the other hand, if you have poor oral health, you may have other health problems.

Many conditions cause oral signs and symptoms

Your mouth is a window into what’s going on in the rest of your body, often serving as a helpful vantage point for detecting the early signs and symptoms of systemic disease — a disease that affects or pertains to your entire body, not just one of its parts. Systemic conditions such as AIDS or diabetes, for example, often first become apparent as mouth lesions or other oral problems. In fact, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms.

Your mouth as an infection source

If you don’t brush and floss regularly to keep your teeth clean, plaque can build up along your gumline, creating an environment for additional bacteria to accumulate in the space between your gums and your teeth. This gum infection is known as gingivitis. Left unchecked, gingivitis can lead to a more serious gum infection called periodontitis.

Bacteria from your mouth normally don’t enter your bloodstream. However, invasive dental treatments — sometimes even just routine brushing and flossing if you have gum disease — can provide a port of entry for these microbes. Medications or treatments that reduce saliva flow and antibiotics that disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in your mouth can also compromise your mouth’s normal defences, allowing these bacteria to enter your bloodstream.

If you have a healthy immune system, the presence of oral bacteria in your bloodstream causes no problems. Your immune system quickly dispenses with them, preventing infection. However, if your immune system is weakened, for example because of a disease, oral bacteria in your bloodstream (bacteremia) may cause you to develop an infection in another part of your body. Infective endocarditis, in which oral bacteria enter your bloodstream and stick to the lining of diseased heart valves, is an example of this phenomenon.

Plaque as a cause of common conditions:

Long-term gum infection can eventually result in the loss of your teeth. But the consequences may not end there. Recent research suggests that there may be an association between oral infections — primarily gum infections — and poorly controlled diabetes, cardiovascular disease, preterm birth etc

Poorly controlled diabetes. If you have diabetes, you’re already at increased risk of developing gum disease. But chronic gum disease may, in fact, make diabetes more difficult to control, as well. Infection may cause insulin resistance, which disrupts blood sugar control.

Cardiovascular disease. Oral inflammation due to bacteria (gingivitis) may also play a role in clogged arteries and blood clots. It appears that bacteria in the mouth may cause inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries. This inflammation may serve as a base for development of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, possibly increasing your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Some research suggests that people with gum infections are also at increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Preterm birth. Severe gum disease may increase the risk of preterm delivery and giving birth to a low birth weight baby.

Problems with the heart and other major organs. Mouth infections can affect major organs. For example, the heart and heart valves can become inflamed by bacterial endocarditis, a condition that affects people with heart disease or anyone with damaged heart tissue.

Digestion problems. Digestion begins with physical and chemical processes in the mouth, and problems here can lead to intestinal failure, irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease and other digestive disorders.

Sleep disorders. Your teeth may be a major cause for lack of sleep and disturbed sleep, Reliance Sleep Study Clinic is open to help solve your sleep/ health issues, contact the sleep clinic today. Call 02 4304 1333 and book in for a consultation with specialist sleep expert Dr Mark Levi.

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What you can do

Seeing a dentist regularly helps to keep your mouth in top shape and allows your dentist to watch for developments that may point to other health issues. A dental exam can also detect poor nutrition and hygiene, growth and development problems and improper jaw alignment. Provide your dentist with a complete medical history and inform him or her of any recent health developments, even if they seem unrelated to your oral health.

At home, you can practice good oral hygiene:

Brush twice a day for at least two minutes, using fluoridated toothpaste.

Floss daily to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach.

Eat a healthy diet to provide the nutrients necessary (vitamins A and C, in particular) to prevent gum disease.

Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, which are known to contribute to gum disease and oral cancer.

Visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and exams. This is one of the most effective ways to detect the early signs of gum disease.

You can also discuss with your GP if you have any concerns, call 02 4304 1333 or visit



Prevent cervical cancer – Why you need a pap smear today

Missy Tysoe June 23, 2016


Prevent cervical cancer, get a pap smear today.

Ladies, when did you last have a pap smear? If you can’t remember it has probably been longer than 2 years and you should consider making an appointment with your GP.


What is a Pap smear?

A Pap smear is a simple test to check your cervix to make sure it is healthy. Your cervix is the opening of the uterus, and is at the top of your vagina. A Pap smear takes only a few minutes and is an effective way to prevent and detect cancer, abnormalities and other infections.

Sometimes the cells of the cervix change from healthy to unhealthy (abnormal). A Pap smear can find abnormal cells before cancer develops.

What causes cervical cancer?

An infection with a virus called HPV (human papillomavirus) is the cause of almost all cervical cancers. There are over 100 different types of HPV. A few of these types are known to cause most of the cervical cancer cases in Australia. HPV is very common. Most people (four out of five) will have HPV at some time in their lives.

In most cases, HPV clears up by itself within a year. Sometimes the virus can stay in your body longer, and can lead to cervical cancer. This usually takes a long time – about 10 years. A Pap smear every two years can find cell changes caused by HPV before they turn into cancer. Your doctor or nurse can then make sure your health is monitored and that you get treatment if you need it, so you can stay healthy.

Who needs a Pap smear?

All women between the ages of 18 and 70 who have ever had sex should have a Pap smear every two years.

Some women may think they do not need a pap smear, but it is important to be checked even of you think you are not at risk. Doctors are often asked by the following groups if they need to be tested;

  • Women with only one sexual partner. Even if you have only ever had sex with your husband, you should still have regular Pap smears. If you have ever had sex, even with only one partner, it is important to keep having Pap smears every two years.
  • Women who have had a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). You might still need to have Pap smears depending on the type of hysterectomy you have had. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you.
  • Women who have been through menopause. Yes, the risk of getting cancer in the cervix increases with age, even after menopause.
  • Women with irregular bleeding. If you have any unusual bleeding or discharge from your vagina, see your doctor as soon as possible.
  • Women who have had a vaccine that may prevent cervical cancer. Yes, a vaccine is available that can prevent infection with the types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer. Regular Pap smears are still essential as the HPV vaccine does not protect against all the HPV types that can cause cervical cancer.


If you can’t remember when you last had a Pap smear, each state and territory has a register where the results of your Pap smear are recorded. A reminder letter will be sent to you when you are overdue for your next Pap smear or follow-up treatment. If you do not want your information recorded on the register or to get reminder letters, tell your doctor.


How is a Pap smear done?

You can ask for a female doctor if this helps you feel more comfortable. You will be given a few moments privacy to undress, and you may leave your top half covered. Next the doctor will use a speculum (medical instrument) so your cervix can be seen more clearly. Some cells are gently wiped from your cervix with a small brush or spatula (a small plastic or wooden stick). The cells are placed on a glass slide and sent to a laboratory where they are looked at under a microscope.

Remember, for the person doing the smear, this is just part of their everyday work and they are not embarrassed. The procedure might be a bit uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t hurt. If it hurts, tell your doctor straight away.

What about the results?

When you have your Pap smear it is important that you ask your doctor when and how you will find out about the results. Most results are normal. If your results are not normal this does not necessarily mean you have cancer. Certain types of abnormal cells may need to be treated by a specialist. A positive pap smear result means that early changes to the cervical cells are detected. Over time these changes could progress to cancer, so depending on the exact changes detected, treatment or further monitoring will be recommended.

Sometimes women at higher risk may need to have Pap smears more often. Make sure you talk to your doctor about what is best for you.

Where can I have my Pap smear? You can make an appointment with our Reliance doctors, call 0243 041 333 or book online

More information on HPV and vaccination is available on the Immunise Australia Program website at

A positive pap smear result means that early changes to the cervical cells are detected. Over time these changes could progress to cancer, so depending on the exact changes detected, treatment or further monitoring will be recommended.


Authors: Dr Rodney Beckwith, Melissa Tysoe

Osteoporosis- the silent disease. Have you had your bone density scan yet?

Rod Beckwith May 26, 2016

Osteoporosis- the silent disease. Have you had your bone density scan yet?


Osteoporosis is a common disease that causes bones to become fragile and brittle. Osteoporosis causes bones to lose minerals such as calcium more quickly than the body can replace them, and consequently there is a reduction in bone strength and density. As the bone becomes thinner, even a small bump or minor fall may cause a serious fracture (called a fragility fracture). Therefore, osteoporosis leads to a  higher risk of fractures compared to normal healthy bone. Osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease” because there are usually no symptoms until a fracture occurs.

Did you know?

Approximately 4.74 million Australians over the age of 50 have osteoporosis or poor bone health, and around 150,000 fractures occur each year due to osteoporosis or osteopenia (low bone density).  In fact, an osteoporotic fracture occurs every 2.9 minutes, which means that a fracture has probably occurred during the time you have spent on our website.

Osteoporosis particularly affects women after menopause and in their later years, although men are also affected. One in three Australian women, and one in five Australian men will develop osteoporosis and be in danger of a fragility fracture. Worse, still, after a fracture, 1 in 2 people never regain full mobility and 1 in 4 have to move into a nursing home. Physical activity and a healthy, balanced  diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis.

DEXA scan-have you had yours?

Scanning of the axial skeleton by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) is the gold standard in Australia for the measurement of bone mineral density (BMD). DEXA is a diagnostic tool for osteoporosis or osteopenia, enabling doctors to determine the extent of bone loss, for clinical decision making.

Riverside Medical Imaging (the x-ray clinic located in Reliance GP Super Clinic) provides an accurate and convenient bone densitometry service for patients and doctors. Early detection of bone mineral loss can help prevent the occurrence of an initial fracture. For patients who may have already had a fracture, investigation with a DEXA scan and initiation of osteoporosis medication combined with a healthy diet and exercise regime is crucial to reduce the very high risk of subsequent fractures.

Reliance is committed to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of and increasing awareness of osteoporosis.

DEXA scanning is the gold standard method for diagnosis of osteoporosis. A DEXA scan is accurate enough to detect less than a 1% change in a patient’s bone density. Our DEXA scanner has enhanced software, only available on the Central Coast in the Reliance GP Super Clinic, to not only measure how much bone there is, but also the quality of the bone, through a new and innovative software called ‘Trabecular Bone Score’ (TBS).”

Angus Steventon


Who should get a scan?

If you are over 70 years of age Medicare will pay for a DEXA Bone Density Scan every two years, with a referral from your GP.

There are many risk factors for osteoporosis. Therefore, you may like to have your bone mineral density (BMD) assessed if:

  • You are over 70 years of age
  • You consume inadequate amounts of dietary calcium
  • You have low vitamin D levels
  • You are a smoker cigarette smoking
  • Your alcohol intake exceeds more than two standard drinks per day
  • Your caffeine intake is more than three cups of tea, coffee or equivalent per day
  • You have poor physical activity levels
  • You experience early menopause (before the age of 45)
  • You have lost your menstrual period due to a reduction in oestrogen levels, which is vital for healthy bones
  • You have recently been placed on anti-depressants (especially SSRIs)
  • You have a long-term use of medications such as corticosteroids for rheumatoid arthritis, asthma or other conditions.

Some conditions place people at a higher risk of osteoporosis. Therefore it is advised patients with the following conditions have their bone mineral density assessed:

  • Thyroid disease or an overactive thyroid gland
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Chronic liver and kidney disease
  • Conditions that affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, such as Crohn’s disease, coeliac disease and other inflammatory bowel conditions

If you have any of the conditions immediately above, you may also be eligible for medicare bulk billing, for your bone density scan. In addition, every Australian man or woman over 70 years of age is eligible for medicare bulk billing. If a medicare rebate is not available to you, the cost of a scan is $87.50. Some private health funds do offer cover for bone density scans, so please check with your provider.

If you or any member of your family have any of these risk factors, you should speak to your Reliance GP about a referral for a bone density scan.

To book an appointment with your GP please call 02 4304 1333 or book online

Flu facts: Why you should be vaccinated this year.

Missy Tysoe April 7, 2016


Flu facts: Why you and your family should be vaccinated this year.

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is caused by a highly contagious virus that is spread by contact with fluids from coughs and sneezes.

  • The vaccine cannot give you a dose of flu because it does not contain any live virus.
  • New flu vaccines are released every year to keep up with rapidly adapting flu viruses.
  • Influenza immunisation is recommended for people in known high-risk groups. People who work or live with people who are at risk of serious complications should also be immunised to avoid spreading the flu.
  • Immunising people who are at risk of complications from the flu is the most important way we have to reduce the number of flu infections and deaths.

Why do I need to get vaccinated every year?

New flu vaccines are released every year to keep up with rapidly adapting flu viruses. Because flu viruses evolve so quickly, last year’s vaccine may not protect you from this year’s viruses.

After vaccination, your immune system produces antibodies that will protect you from the vaccine viruses. In general, though, antibody levels start to decline over time — another reason to get a flu shot every year.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccinations for everyone age 6 months or older.  Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of influenza complications, including:

  • Pregnant women
  • Older adults
  • Young children

Children between 6 months and 8 years may need two doses of flu vaccine, given at least four weeks apart, to be fully protected. Check with your child’s health care provider.

Chronic medical conditions can also increase your risk of influenza complications. Examples include:

  • Asthma
  • Cancer or cancer treatment
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Obesity

Who shouldn’t get a flu shot?

Check with your doctor before receiving a flu vaccine if:

  • You’re allergic to eggs. Some flu vaccines contain tiny amounts of egg proteins. If you have an egg allergy or sensitivity, you’ll likely be able to receive a flu vaccine — but you might need to take special precautions, such as waiting in the doctor’s office for at least 30 minutes after vaccination in case of a reaction.

There are also flu vaccines that don’t contain egg proteins, and are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for use in people age 18 and older. Consult your doctor about your options.

  • You had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccine. The flu vaccine isn’t recommended for anyone who had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccine. Check with your doctor first, though. Some reactions might not be related to the vaccine.

Fact sheet– download here-


To book your flu vaccine, please contact us on 0243 041 333 or book online

Melissa Tysoe | Marketing & Events | Reliance GP Super Clinic


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