New Mothers – 10 Health Tips for Women After Delivery

December 29, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

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This video features 10 health tips for new mothers. These recommendations are based on expert clinical guidelines published in UpToDate online version 19.3, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. This video was produced by Nicholas Cohen, MD in 2011.

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!
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Gynecologic cancer awareness month: cervical cancer revisited

September 24, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

cervixSeptember is the Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month in the US. Cervical cancer is the most common form of gynecological cancer.

Here are the latest statistics on cervical cancer (source: Medical Minute at Physorg):

  • Cervical cancer is the 5th most common form of cancer in women worldwide.
  • It is predicted that 12,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2009.
  • An estimated 4,000 women in the US will die of the disease.
  • Worldwide, millions of women do have access to cervical cancer screening.

Do you know that cervical cancer is one of, if not the most easily detectable, easily cured, and most preventable forms of cancer? Compared to some other cancers and many chronic diseases, it is considered “rare”.

The keys to the success in fighting cervical cancer are

  • early detection through effective screening by the Pap test
  • vaccination against the most common strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV).

A study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill showed that HPV infection (as indicated by genital warts) that persists for 6 months to 1 year was strongly associated to increased risk of high-grade cervical lesions that can lead to cervical cancer. Combined with the Pap test, persistence of HPV infection is a very effective tool in early screening and detection of cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer got global attention earlier this year when the cancer battle of UK’s Jade Goody was turned into a reality show. During her struggle and even after her death, health authorities reported a surge in inquiries about cervical cancer and an increased demand for HPV vaccine, the so-called “Jade Goody effect.” The latest statistics from the CDC showed that 1 in 3 girls in the US have received vaccine against HPV. The vaccination rates in the US increased to about 37% last year. The rates, however, seem to vary from state to state. The highest rates were reported in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Massachusetts (more than 50%) while the lowest rates were reported in Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina (less than 20%). It is noted that cervical cancer rates are among the highest in those states where vaccination rates are lowest.

The HPV vaccine is effective against the HPV strains that cause 70% of cervical cancer. It is indicated for girls starting at age 11 before they get sexually active. It comes in 3 doses over 6 months. It is said to be the most expensive of childhood inoculations but most health insurance providers cover it.

Photo credit: wikicommons

Cervical Cancer

May 1, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

Cervical cancer will be diagnosed in more than 11,000 women in the U.S. in 2008 and more than 3,000 women will die of the disease this year.

Worldwide it is third leading cause of cancer death in women.

What is the cervix?

The cervix is the lower portion of the uterus. It connects the uterus to the birth canal (vagina) and is the area of the uterus where a fetus will grow and develop.

There are two types of cervical cancer:

  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • adenocarcinoma

Per the American Cancer Society, 80 to 90 percent of all diagnosed cases of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinoma.
A diagnosis of cervical ‘pre-cancerous tissue’ is treated the same as cancer, though these abnormal cells do not always become cancerous. This is because often the symptoms of cervical cancer are silent until the cancer is at advanced stages.

The HPV and Cervical Cancer Connection:

Human Pappillomavirus is connected to 90% of all diagnosed cervical cancer cases. Many people have this common virus which is passed to another person during sex. A healthy immune system generally protects the HPV virus from doing any harm. However in some women it can cause pre-cancerous cellular changes that may continue to slowly change the cells to cancerous tissue.

The HPV vaccine will protect women from 4 types of human papillomavirus. Per the CDC: “If you are 11–26 years old, you can help prevent cervical cancer by getting the HPV vaccine. It protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers, and is given in a series of three shots.”

For detailed information on the HPV virus see the Mayo Clinic site.

Risk Factors:

  • HPV infection (early sex, unprotected sex)
  • Smoking
  • Multiple full-term pregnancies
  • Immune suppression diseases
  • Birth control pills
  • Other sexually transmitted diseases
  • Family history
  • Diets low in fruits and vegetables
  • Socio-economic (no access to health care and regular PAP screenings)
  • Age-most often occurs in women over the age of 40

These risk factors are discussed in more detail at the American Cancer Institute site.

Symptoms:

Cervical cancer begins on the cellular level which causes silent symptoms. Symptoms such as pelvic pain, bloody discharge or pain during intercourse may not appear until the cancer is no longer in the early stages.

Prevention:

  • Reduce risk factors as appropriate
  • Ask your physician if the HPV vaccine is right for you
  • Schedule regular PAP tests

What is a PAP test?

The name PAP comes from one of the inventors George Papanikolaou.

A PAP test is done during your routine gynecological pelvic exam. Cell scrapings of the cervix are put on slides which are then examined for cellular changes or abnormalities.

Detailed information on PAP screenings can be found in the National Cancer Institute fact sheet.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

Diagnosis begins with a physical exam and history. The level of diagnostic testing will be determined by the stage of your disease. 78% of all cervical cancer cases are diagnosed in the early stage.

If it is suspected that the cancer is not in the early stage, your physician may order detailed testing to check the lymph nodes, urinary system, rectal and vaginal areas for spread of the disease. Detailed testing information can be found at the The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center site.

Treatment may include, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Per The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, treatment options also include the following:

  • The stage of the cancer
  • The size of the tumor
  • The patient’s desire to have children
  • The patient’s overall health and age


Terminology for diagnosis and/or treatment:

Cone biopsy: a surgical procedure where a cone shaped piece of tissue is removed from the cervix.

Cryosurgery: a surgical procedure that uses an instrument to freeze and destroy precancerous tissue.

LEEP : Loop Electrical Excision Procedure- treatment done under local anesthesia, an electrical current passed through a thin wire hook to remove abnormal tissue.

Laser surgery: a surgical procedure that uses a laser beam to remove surface lesions.

Resources:

For more detailed information on cervical cancer, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) offers a downloadable pdf fact sheet and a cervical cancer podcast.

Eyes on the Prize.org offers support and information for gynecological cancer.

Women’s Health Cancer Centres (Canada) is a huge network of resources.

Battling Books:

100 Questions & Answers About Cervical Cancer by Don S., M.D. Dizon (2008).

Women at risk: The HPV epidemic and Your Cervical Health by Gregory Henderson M.D. Ph.D and Batya Swift Yasgur (2002).

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.