Category Archives: Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer

Straight, No Chaser: Blood Clots in Your Legs – Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT)

dvt

If you’re a sports fan, you’re likely aware of the death of a 52-year-old former star of the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers, Jerome Kersey, followed two days after by the discovery of the same condition in a current star of the NBA’s Miami Heat, Chris Bosh. You may also recall tennis superstar Serena Williams’ career was once placed on hold for a year. The condition from which they all suffered was pulmonary embolus (blood clots in the lungs). Straight, No Chaser will discuss those in the next two posts, but today we will address the condition that most often precedes the development of clots in the lungs.

DVT_clot_illustration

A blood clot represents a blockage of a blood vessel somewhere in the body, usually the lower extremities (legs and thighs), the lungs (pulmonary embolus) or the brain (a stroke). Today we’ll discuss the variety that occurs in the lower extremities, which are generally referred to as deep venous thrombosis (DVTs). In case you’re thinking that a clot in the leg doesn’t sound as bad as a clot in the lungs or the head, you’re correct – until you understand that DVTs break off and travel to other body sites, leading to blockage elsewhere (This is called embolism.).

Today’s challenges are to appreciate the risks of developing DVTs and the symptoms. Risk factors include the following:

  • Birth control pills or other estrogen use (this combined with cigarette smoking pushes the risk even higher)
  • Cancer
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Family history of blood clots
  • Obesity
  • Prolonged immobilization
  • Recent pelvic or leg fracture
  • Recent surgery (most often the pelvis or lower extremities)
  • Recent travel involving long periods of sitting
  • Certain medical conditions, most notably lupus

Deep-Vein-Thrombosis-Homeopathic

Symptoms most commonly are in one leg or the other and reflect the fact that the vein is being blocked. These include pain, swelling, redness and warmth. The above picture is not typical. The presentation is usually much more subtle.

Diagnosis and treatment are relatively straightforward as long as they occur in time (meaning before the clots have broken off). Diagnosis is usually accomplished by an ultrasound of the lower extremities; once discovered, you’ll be placed on blood thinners. It’s important to know that blood thinners prevent the formation of new clots. They do not dissolve existing clots. That’s usually not necessary, as many DVTs simply dissolve. If it doesn’t, DVTs that embolize are life-threatening (more so from the pelvis and thigh than the legs). Unfortunately pulmonary emboli are among the most missed medical diagnoses and causes of death.

Try to manage your controllable risk factors, and be aware – especially when you’re dealing with a risk factor that you can’t control (like surgery).

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 Cardiology/Heart, Hematology & Oncology/Blood Disorders/Cancer, Respiratory/Lungs

Straight, No Chaser: Blood Transfusions – Facts About Giving and Receiving

donate_blood_1

When was the last time you saved a life? I’m not talking about an Internet game. There are many ways in which your efforts can make a significant difference in the life of someone whose life is at risk. One such instance is donating blood. This Straight, No Chaser reviews the basics of blood transfusion because it’s Patient Blood Management Awareness Week.

You have a greater chance of needing a blood transfusion than you may think.

donate blood faq

Each year, almost 5 million Americans need blood transfusions, meaning 5 million examples of active or potential people in the midst of imminent or potential life-threatening conditions. These can include any of the following:

  • Rapid loss of blood from injuries such as gunshot or stab wounds, motor vehicle collisions or broken bones;
  • Loss of blood during operations;
  • Severe anemia from disease such as cancer, sickle-cell anemia, kidney disease or iron deficiency;
  • Bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia or thrombocytopenia.

Let’s recap why blood is so vital.

donate how_much_blood

Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the cells of various tissues and organs throughout the body. Failure to have an adequate supply of either oxygen or nutrients causes damage and/or death to the cells affected. You recognize many diseases in which this occurs, including heart attacks and strokes. Blood itself has many components, including red cells, white cells, platelets and plasma. Whole blood contains all of these, but more often transfusions occur via individual parts.

Do you know your blood type?

donate blood

On a list of things you should know about yourself, that really ranks high on the list. When seconds count, being able to share that information can make all the difference. The blood used in a transfusion must work with your blood type. If it doesn’t, antibodies (proteins) in your blood attack the new blood and make you sick.

  • Everyone has one of the following blood types: A, B, AB, or O. Also, every person’s blood is either Rh-positive or Rh-negative. So, if you have type A blood, it’s either A positive or A negative; that classification combines the two components that measure incompatibilities between blood.
  • Type O blood is called the universal donor, meaning it’s safe for almost everyone. As such, Type O blood is used for emergencies when there’s no time to test a person’s blood type. Approximately 40 percent of the population has type O blood.
  • People who have type AB blood are called universal recipients, means they can get any type of blood.
  • If you have Rh-positive blood, you can get Rh-positive or Rh-negative blood. But if you have Rh-negative blood, you should only get Rh-negative blood. Rh-negative blood is used for emergencies when there’s no time to test a person’s Rh type.
  • All of this means if you’re AB positive, you’re in a good position to receive donor blood and are relatively less likely to have allergic reactions to blood. Any blood type is good regarding the ability to donate.

Is donated blood safe?

donation_questions

Blood banks collect, test, and store blood. All donated blood is meticulously screened for viruses, other infectious agents and other factors that could make you sick.

It’s helpful to know that not all transfusions require blood donated from a stranger. If you’re going to have surgery and if it’s surgery that is scheduled months in advance, your doctor may ask whether you would like to donate your own blood for potential use if needed during the surgery. Your blood would be drawn well in advance and stored in a blood bank. Even during surgeries, surgeons try to reduce the amount of blood lost so that fewer transfusions are needed. Sometimes blood lost can be collected and reused for the same patient.

Are there alternatives to blood transfusions?

It’s very interesting that of all the medical advances that have been made, there are still no man-made alternative to human blood. That said, researchers are trying to find ways to make blood. At this point, researchers have developed medicines that may help do the job of some blood parts. For example, some people who have kidney problems take a medicine called erythropoietin, which helps their bodies make more red blood cells. As a result, they may need fewer blood transfusions.

Will you donate blood?

donate-blood1

What this all boils down to is having sufficient blood supplies is vital to hospitals’ ability to take care of patients. Please consider this gift of life. You can easily check your ability to donate by contacting your local hospital or the Red Cross by visiting http://www.redcrossblood.org/give/drive/driveSearch.jsp. Besides, donating blood actually comes with plenty of benefits, including reducing cholesterol, improving circulation, reducing iron buildup and identifying any abnormalities you may have in your blood.

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

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