Category Archives: Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer

Straight, No Chaser: Cervical Health Awareness

cervical_health_awareness_month

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, and to that end, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) boldly proclaims “No woman should die of cervical cancer.”

It’s cervical health month in the United States, and this point has a rather simple message: Cervical cancer is highly preventable and can be cured when discovered and treatment early. Here are some quick tips to help you check this off of your list of concerns.

  • Every child should get vaccinated at age 11 or 12. Even if you’ve reached age 26 and haven’t been vaccinated, you should discuss options with your physician.
  • The most important thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to get screened regularly starting at age 21.

pap smear

  • The Pap test (or smear) should be performed regularly at age 21. It looks for precancerous changes to the cervix that identify the need for early treatment. In many cases a normal test will eliminate the need for another test for the next three years, but your physician will discuss your individual circumstances in this regard.
  • The HPV test looks for the virus that is now known to be the cause of cervical cancer. Furthermore, human papillomavirus (HPV) is sexually transmitted. The HPV test can be done at the same time as the Pap test from the same examination.

Hopefully knowing these simple tools will convince you to be attentive to preventing and managing your cervical health. This is a public health success story in that cervical cancer could be eliminated if everyone followed the above steps. The rest is up to you.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Health Prevention, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer, Infectious Disease, Obstetrics and Gynecology

Straight, No Chaser: Me on the Business End of a Colonoscopy, aka Getting Screened for Colorectal Cancer

colonoscopy

The last two posts have highlighted recommended screening examinations for men and women between ages 40-64. In today’s Straight, No Chaser, I want to pay special attention to one examination in particular: the screening colonoscopy, largely because I had the experience of getting it done just yesterday – but more on that later in the post.

Colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer in the United States after lung cancer (stop smoking!). As previously noted in the post on recommended screenings, everyone should have a screening colonoscopy at least by age 50. Certain groups of individuals, such as African-Americans and those with positive family history for colon cancer should have the test done earlier. Simply put, colonoscopy is definitive in screening and diagnosing colorectal cancer, and it is one of the most successful ways to both prevent and treat early cancer.

Here’s a bit about how a colonoscopy is done.

colonoscopy-icons

First, you have to do a bowel prep. Over a few days, you’ll eliminate certain foods (e.g. corn, nuts) from your diet, then progress to an all liquid diet, followed by taking a few doses of a very strong laxative to completely clean out the contents of your intestines (those of you looking for a good detox should be so lucky). I actually lost 3.5 pounds doing this.

colonoscopy_procedure

The exam involves using a tube (colonoscope) to view your digestive tissue from your rectum all the way up the large intestine (approximately 5 feet). It includes cleaning away and suction stool that blocks the view, direct visualization of the intestines and real-time removal of suspicious tissue (e.g. polyps) that could be cancerous or early signs of cancer. You may or may not choose to be sedated (put to sleep) during this. Of course, my medical curiosity was such that I wanted to see everything on the screen in real time, so I went without any medications, and yes, I lived to tell the story: the level of discomfort never got higher than a 3 on a scale of 1-10.

The point here is simple and straightforward: Most people in whom colon cancer is found and treated early will not only be alive 5 years later, but many will live a normal life span. On the other hand, when it’s not, colorectal cancer is very dangerous because it often doesn’t cause noticeable signs or symptoms until the cancer is advanced and much more difficult to treat. The screening colonoscopy gives you the best chance to know where you stand.

colonoscopy-s2-why-is-colonoscopy-done

So this isn’t that complicated. If you’re older, African-American, have a positive family history for colon cancer or inflammatory intestinal conditions, live a sedentary lifestyle or have a low-fiber, high-fat diet, you are at risk. A word about your diet: you should know that according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, just 1.7 ounces of processed meats consumed daily (equivalent to less than two strips of bacon) roughly increase a person’s risk for colorectal cancer by 21 percent. More definitely, no amount of processed meat is considered safe for consumption.

Thankfully, my colonoscopy was perfectly normal: I keep telling you diet is 75% of health (unless you’re either lucky or unlucky in your genetic makeup)! The actual colonoscopy took just over 10 minutes, and I won’t have to go through this for another 10 years. Isn’t that investment of time worth giving yourself the best chance for a clean bill of colon and rectal health?

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Gastrointestinal, General Health and Wellness, Health Prevention, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer

Straight, No Chaser Vlog: Cancer, The Big C

 

The Straight, No Chaser vlog (video blog) series presents “health care basics” to keep you safe, healthy and out of the emergency room. Today’s Straight, No Chaser focuses on Cancer, the Big C. Early detection is paramount. Learn to take CAUTION with cancer. We’re wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season!

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under General Health and Wellness, Health Prevention, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer

Basic Questions and Answers about Anemia

What is anemia?

Anemia is a condition defined by blood containing a lower than normal number of red blood cells or if the blood cells present don’t contain sufficient hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen throughout the body). Anemia from iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency.

What causes anemia?

There are many causes of anemia and many different types of anemia, but the most common causes are blood loss (the moss common cause), a lack of red blood cell production and higher than normal rates of destruction of red blood cells.

What are the symptoms of anemia?

One of the major points of blood is it is the vehicle for carrying blood and removing carbon dioxide (waste) from your body. The presence of anemia means the absence of sufficient oxygen through the body. This produces symptoms such as fatigue (the most common symptom), weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, cold feeling in the hands and feet, pale skin and chest pain. Severe or long-lasting anemia can cause actual damage to your heart, brain, and other organs in your body and can lead to death.

Are there risk factors?

Practically, the biggest risk factor is being a woman of child-bearing age because of the ongoing blood loss that occurs from menstruation. Additional major risk factors include a poor diet (meaning one low in iron, vitamins or minerals), blood loss from surgery or an acute injury, long-term or serious illnesses and infections, and a family history of inherited anemias (e.g. sickle cell anemia or thalassemia).

How is anemia diagnosed?

It’s important to note that all anemia is not created equal. Whether or not suggestive symptoms are present, anemia is rather easily identified with a simple blood test (the complete blood count, aka CBC). In many instances, that’s the beginning of the assessment. Additional tests may be needed to identify the specific test of anemia.

How is anemia treated?

Believe it or not, in many instances, the treatment of anemia isn’t as simple as taken an iron supplement, and thus medical assessments should be considered essential. Treatment for anemia depends on the type, cause, and severity of the underlying condition. Anemia treatment may involve dietary changes and/or supplements, but it may require other medicines, procedures, or surgery to treat blood loss.

What can I do?

Focus your efforts on these specific actions:

  • Prioritize getting routine evaluations and evaluations as needed in the midst of suggestive symptoms.
  • If you fall into a risk category, your diet and iron supplementation matters, as iron is needed to make hemoglobin. You can enhance iron absorption by eating red meats, chicken, turkey, pork, and fish/shellfish. If you don’t eat meat, foods that are good sources of iron include dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, tofu, peas, dried fruits (prunes, raisins and apricots), prune juice and iron-fortified cereals and breads. Maintaining Vitamins B12, Vitamin C and folic acid, are also important in maintaining healthy cells and absorbing iron.

The good news is quite often anemia can be easily identified, treated and controlled. As with many other conditions, early diagnosis and treatment are key for improving one’s quality of life and life expectancy.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Diet and Nutrition, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer

Straight, No Chaser: Does Cuba Hold the Key to Lung Cancer Treatment and Prevention?

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For many, some of the first things that come to mind when you think of Cuba are smoking and cigars. For many others, the one of first things that come to mind when you think of cigars is cancer. As such, lung cancer is the fourth-leading cause of death in Cuba. Given that necessity is often the mother of invention (and given Cuba’s outstanding public health system), it stands to reason that Cuba might be at the forefront when it comes to advancing the search for a cure for cancer.

In the medical news (and in the category of important stuff that’s actually going on but you aren’t paying attention to), is a Cuban-developed lung cancer vaccine called CimaVax. Imagine if you will: a potential powerful deterrent to the most common form of lung cancer may have existed 90 miles off the shores of the US for 25 years but has been unavailable to citizens due to the US-Cuban trade embargo. Sounds like a good enough reason to normalize relations all by itself, you think?

cuba vax

Here’s what we know about CimaVax at this point:

  • It’s been researched for 25 years in Cuba and Europe.
  • It’s been available to Cubans since 2011.
  • It’s been used to treat 5,000 worldwide.
  • Research, including that published in the US (Journal of Clinical Oncology), has shown CimaVax to be safe, with no significant side effects.
  • Research has shown it to especially increase survival in study participants younger than 60 years old.

To be clear, CimaVax is not a cure for cancer; what it’s doing is blocking a hormone that causes lung cancer growth. It is thought that this strategy will also prove beneficial in the fight against breast, colorectal, head/neck, ovarian and prostate cancers, so in the field of oncology (study of cancer), this is a really big deal.

cuba vax1

What’s next is applying the full scrutiny of the scientific method here in the U.S. What’s possible is within a few years, we may have access to what would unquestionably be one of the biggest tools in the fight against cancer this side of prevention. Here hoping. Sometimes good politics actually do make for great public health.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Health Prevention, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer, Respiratory/Lungs

Straight, No Chaser: What Are The Symptoms of HIV and AIDS?

This is the third in an ongoing series on HIV and AIDS.

  • For an explanation of what AIDS is, click here.
  • For an explanation of how HIV is contracted, click here.

The National Institutes of Health has a nice method of categorizing HIV signs and symptoms, which I’ll replicate here. There are several take home messages, and I’ll use the pictures to communicate them.

HIV signs-symptoms-2

HIV Positive Without Symptoms

Many people who are HIV-positive do not have symptoms of HIV infection, and symptoms only evolve as their condition deteriorates toward AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Sometimes people living with HIV go through periods of being sick and then feel fine.

HIV signs-symptoms2

Signs and Symptoms of Early HIV

As early as two–four weeks after exposure to HIV (but sometimes as far out as three months later), people can experience an acute illness, often described as “the worst flu ever.” This is called acute retrovirus syndrome (ARS) or primary HIV infection. This represents the body’s natural response to HIV infection. During primary HIV infection, there are higher levels of virus circulating in the blood, which means that people can more easily transmit the virus to others.

Symptoms resemble a flu-like syndrome, including fever, chills, nights sweats, muscle aches and fatigue. Other symptoms may include a rash, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and ulcers in mouth. It is important to state that not everyone gets ARS when they become infected with HIV.

hiv-and-aids ss3

Signs and Symptoms of Chronic or Latent Phase HIV

After the initial infection and seroconversion, the virus becomes less active in the body, although it is still present. During this period, many people do not have any symptoms of HIV infection. This period is called the ‘chronic’ or ‘latency’ phase. This period can last up to 10 years—sometimes longer.

HIV opportunistic-infections-4

Signs and Symptoms of AIDS

While the virus itself can sometimes cause people to feel sick, most of the severe symptoms and illnesses of HIV disease come from the opportunistic infections that attack the infected individual’s compromised immune system.

When HIV infection progresses to AIDS, many people begin to suffer from fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, night sweats, and even wasting syndrome at late stages.

Unless symptoms are discovered late, HIV/AIDS is much better being diagnosed early based on risk factors and exposures. That said, use the knowledge provided to prompt evaluation and testing.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer, Infectious Disease

Straight, No Chaser: What Exactly Is AIDS?

HIV

This is the second blog in an ongoing series on HIV and AIDS.

After all these years, it’s still an interesting and important enough question to ask and to know how to answer. Most know that AIDS is a devastating disease caused by the HIV virus. However, courtesy of the National Institutes of Health, consider the following:

A – Acquired – AIDS is not something you inherit from your parents. You acquire AIDS after birth.

I – Immuno – Your body’s immune system includes all the organs and cells that work to fight off infection or disease.

D – Deficiency – You get AIDS when your immune system is “deficient,” or isn’t working the way it should.

S – Syndrome – A syndrome is a collection of symptoms and signs of disease. AIDS is a syndrome, rather than a single disease, because it is a complex illness with a wide range of complications and symptoms.

aids-1

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is the final stage of HIV infection. People at this stage of HIV disease have badly damaged immune systems, which put them at risk for opportunistic infections (meaning infections not typically  present in persons with normal immunity).

You will be diagnosed with AIDS if you have one or more specific opportunistic infections, certain cancers (such as Kaposi’s sarcoma) or a very low number of CD4 cells (a measure of the strength of your immune systems function).  If you have AIDS, you will need medical intervention and treatment to prevent death.

Check back to Straight, No Chaser for additional posts on HIV/AIDS, including risk factors and symptoms, progression/complications and treatment.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!

Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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Filed under Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer, Infectious Disease