Bob Lawrence’s journey with Metastatic Melanoma Cancer

February 18, 2012 by  
Filed under BRAIN, VIDEO

Bob Lawrence's journey with Metastatic Melanoma Cancer
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HDL-Cholesterol May Help Men Live Longer ~ Health & Wellness Tip

April 3, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

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

Visit formore health tips and videos or follow us on http Here’s a quick bit of information about HDL, the good cholesterol, and aging. A recent study found that men who had higher levels of HDL in their 60’s were more likely to reach 85 than those who did not. Now, HDL is hard to increase but here are some of the known ways to increase it: regular, vigorous aerobic exercise; nuts like almonds and walnuts; diets high in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains like oatmeal. Alcohol in moderation, that’s 1-2 4 oz glasses of wine a night, have also been shown to increase the HDL. That’s a good guide for people who drink but I wouldn’t go out and start drinking just to raise your good cholesterol if you don’t drink already. Dr. Mark Savant is a General Internist. He has been in practice for over 12 years. received his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin This video was produced by SavantMD Inc. © Copyright 2009 -2011 SavantMD Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

Male Menopause Symptoms & Treatments : Nutrition Tips for Male Menopause

February 18, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

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

Learn nutrition and diet tips and what foods to eat to help prevent and treat male menopause, including tomatoes and other colorful vegetables with expert medical advice from a trained doctor and scientist in this free online health care video clip. Expert: Dr. Susan Jewell Bio: Dr. Susan Jewell is a British born educated bilingual Asian with a British accent and can speak Cantonese. Filmmaker: Nili Nathan

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

Menopause: symptoms and treatment options

October 6, 2010 by  

I know it is waiting for me out there as I approach the 5th decade of my life. I dread it but I also look forward when it is finally over. I am referring to that stage of a woman’s life called “menopause.”

According to the October issue of NIH News:

Menopause is defined as the final menstrual period.  On average, women have their last period around age 51, but it can also occur in their 40s or late 50s. Symptoms usually begin to appear several years before menopause. This time of change—called the menopausal transition, or perimenopause—extends to 1 year after your final period.

The symptoms

The reason why I dread menopause is the symptoms that come with it. I remember my mom’s menopausal years and they were not that easy, neither for her nor for her family.

Menopause can be physically and mentally challenging. The good news is that not all women suffer from severe symptoms that require treatment. The bad news is that “those bothered by symptoms, choosing the best treatment can be confusing.” Some of the most common symptoms of menopause are:

  • Hot flashes
  • Sleeping problems
  • Mood changes

According to researcher Dr. Sherry Sherman:

“Hot flashes can be severe and highly disruptive. We used to think that they lasted for 2 or 3 years, but our studies have shown that for some women they can last a lot longer—up to 7 or 10 years.”

What causes these symptoms?

During perimenopause, levels of estrogen and progesterone—2 female hormones made in the ovaries—go up and down irregularly. This leads to changes in menstrual periods. The fluctuation in hormone levels that begins during perimenopause can affect many different parts of the body.

The heart, blood vessels, brain and brain are all affected by the hormone fluctuation, leading to a wide range of symptoms.

Treatment options

The convention treatment for menopause symptoms is hormone replacement therapy, especially estrogen. The hormone supplementation not only alleviates menopausal symptoms, it also has cardioprotective effects and benefits for bone health. Recent research evidence, however, indicates that this menopausal hormone therapy presents some risks including increased risk for breast cancer and stroke. Thus, “different therapies have benefits and risks that need to be weighed carefully.”

Alternatives to hormone therapy are being looked into, including

  • mind-body approaches
  • exercise
  • different medications
  • behavioral interventions
  • alternative medicine approaches

On the other hand, I am looking forward to life after menopause, a life without contraceptive pills, pre-menstrual syndrome and tampoons.

What you should do about food allergy symptoms

April 19, 2010 by  
Filed under ALLERGIES

Do you have a child with food allergy? Do you know what to do in case of severe allergic reactions? An Australian study indicates that many parents with children with food allergies are actually unprepared to act accordingly in case their kids develop allergic symptoms.

According to a study involving preschool children in Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Australian parents may actually be short on food (e.g. peanut and other nuts) allergy awareness. Some figures that came out from the study are:

  • 3.8% of 5-year old children in the region have a history of peanut allergy.
  • 94% of local schools are aware of their pupils’ allergies.
  • 76% of these schools have a management procedure in place to mitigate allergic-related situations.

The study revealed some points that caused major concerns. The parents of children in this age group seem to lack the awareness of how to deal with allergic reactions.

According to Professor Marjan Kljakovic of the ANU Medical School:

“The study showed two things of concern. The first is that action on food allergy was influenced by the level of worry the parent had about their child’s allergy. In other words, the less worried parents were about food allergies, the less likely they were to observe their child having symptoms and to act on them.

The second concern is that some parents reacted inappropriately following seeing their child having an allergic reaction to peanut. In such cases, it is not appropriate to ‘watch and wait for the reaction to subside’, ‘induce vomiting in the child’ or ‘apply calamine lotion to the skin’, as some parents seemed to think.”

So what are the symptoms of food allergy?

According to

  • Itchiness in the mouth
  • Difficulty in swallowing and breathing
  • Rashes, hives or eczema
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain

Allergic reaction manifesting in all of the above in severe forms is called anaphylactic reaction which is life-threatening.

The Australian study identified the following common mistakes of parents in handling allergic reactions:

  • Watching and waiting for the symptoms to subside.
  • Inducing the child to vomit
  • In the case of skin reactions, applying calamine lotion to the skin.

The recommended correct line of action is:

  • Administration of oral antihistamines which are available over-the counter.
  • If the child develops severe anaphylactic reaction, he or she should be taken to the doctor immediately. an adrenalin auto-injector is necessary.

Additional resources:

Take the Food Allergy Screening Quiz.

Info on Anaphylaxis on Severe Allergic Reaction

Things you may not know about hay fever

April 8, 2010 by  
Filed under ALLERGIES

Springtime is here. And the flowers are here, too. No wonder that springtime is high pollen season. Those of us who suffers from hay fever can attest to this. Hay fever or allergic rhinitis in doctor speak is on the rise. According to emedicine statistics, 10 to 30% of adult Americans and over 40% of children suffer from some kind of hay fever. In Sweden, the incidence has doubled over a 12-year period. Other developed countries have reported similar rising trends.

Al though hay fever is quite common, and I’ve had it intermittently over the years, I still learn new things about hay fever constantly. Here are some things that you might not know:

  • Hay is not a cause of hay fever. The term hay fever was probably coined as the autumn symptoms coincide with hay making time.
  • Hay fever seldom manifests in increased body temperature (fever).
  • Hay fever can be caused by many types of airborne allergens, not only pollen. Other airborne allergens are molds, spores, and dust.
  • Garden flowers usually do not cause hay fever. The pollens of these plants are usually too big and waxy. The culprits are the pollens from grass, weed and trees which are small, light, almost invisible and easily carried by the wind.
  • Hay fever is not only seasonal, it can be all-year round thing. Seasonal hay fever peaks in spring and autumn during high pollen season. I do get it once a year or every two years during spring time. A friend of mine, however, can get it anytime and would present with severe symptoms as early as February when snow is still thick on the ground.

So how does hay fever happen? Below is a description from emedicine of the sequence of events that occur leading to the typical hay fever symptoms:

Hay fever usually manifests in the following:

  • Runny nose with clear, thin discharge
  • Constant sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sore, scratchy throat
  • Red, watery eyes or allergic conjunctivitis
  • Itchiness in the nostrils
  • Rash
  • Fatigue
  • Sleeping problems

What are the most common remedies for hay fever?

  • Anti-histamines, which are available as oral or liquid medication over-the-counter. Take note that most anti-histamines can make you sleepy and might interfere with driving or operating complex machinery. I personally prefer to take loratadine because it doesn’t make me drowsy.
  • Corticosteroid nasal sprays  are administered through the nostrils and act as decongestants.
  • Decongestants (tablets or liquid) help relieve stuffy nose.
  • Eyedrops can help relieve eye symptoms

Updates on MS management

January 6, 2010 by  

A multidisciplinary approach to multiple sclerosis is necessary to preserve and even improve the overall quality of life of multiple sclerosis patients. This is the message of a recent review at Medscape.

Multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic heterogeneous disease with variable course, often imposes a substantial burden on the community, family, and individual, with notable negative effects on patient function and quality-of-life.

Multiple sclerosis causes pain, physical impairment and disability but the effects even go deeper  down to psychosocial and neuropsychological problems. Thus, traditional approaches that address only the physical impairment is not effective in improving the quality of life of the patients. Here are some ways to help improve the quality life of multiple sclerosis patients, ways which go beyond standard care:

Fatigue. Fatigue is part of the daily life of an MS patient. It may be caused by the disease itself but may also be due to sleeping problems. There pharmacological approaches to managing insomnia but there are also non-pharmacological approaches such as:

  • Regular exercise
  • Energy conservation strategies
  • Lifestyle modification

Depression. Many patients with MS suffer from depressive symptoms, which can also be linked to fatigue and insomnia. Pharmacologic  therapy using  anti-depressants is possible. Examples of nonpharmacologic approaches are cognitive-behavior therapy and group psychotherapy. However, physical therapy and exercise are also known to reduce depressive symptoms. A combination of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic therapy may also be beneficial.

Cognitive dysfunction. Loss of memory and disorientation are some of the cognitive effects of MS. There are no approved drugs for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction associated with MS. However, there are a lot of nonpharmacologic interventions including

  • cognitive rehabilitation
  • counseling
  • education
  • lifestyle changes
  • compensation strategies ,e.g. taking notes, making lists, and improved organization

Bladder and bowel dysfunction. Bladder problems, even incontinence are common about MS patients. So are diarrhea and constipation. Drugs are most commonly used to manage these symptoms but proper diet and a regular daily bowel output routine may also be helpful.

Pain. The pain that MS patients suffer from may or may be due to MS, or may be an effect of MS treatment. Pain is also linked to lack of sleep and fatigue. Medications to manage pain and spasms are usually prescribed.

Finally, MS patients need a strong support group or network, family and friends who will always be there for them.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Brush up on your stroke awareness

March 5, 2009 by  

ambulance__ecnalubmaIs your stroke awareness up to scratch?

Those who have it, don’t know they have it. I am referring to the high risk for stroke and people’s awareness. And that is exactly what one of the papers presented at American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2009 found out.

The researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the world’s largest ongoing telephone health survey. Since 1984, the BRFSS has been tracking health information of Americans. The data analyzed included responses from 86,573 adults from 11 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. The survey also included answering five questions specific for stroke, mainly on symptoms and actions during stroke (e.g. call 9-1-1).

The five most common warning signs of stroke are

  • sudden weakness in the face, arm or leg, particularly if the weakness occurs on only one side of the body
  • sudden severe headache
  • sudden vision disturbance in one or both eyes;
  • sudden confusion or difficulty speaking; and/or
  • sudden dizziness, loss of balance, loss of coordination or difficulty walking.

The results of the survey were a bit disappointing and some key points are summarized below:

  • 93% of those asked knew a couple of the obvious symptoms especially the numbness.
  • 59% of those surveyed didn’t recognize the less obvious symptoms such as a severe headache.
  • Only 37% of those surveyed recognized all five warning signs of stroke as listed above.

What is surprising is that some people who have had stroke have less stroke awareness than others who haven’t had one!

When looking at the data more closely, the researchers found that certain demographic factors play a role in stroke awareness.

Ethnicity: Whites have better stroke awareness (40%) compared to blacks (31%) and Hispanics (21%).

Education attainment: 46% of those with a college education knew more about stroke vs. 19% of those with high school level education.

Income: 45% of those with income above $50,000 a year are more aware of stroke that those who earn less $25,000 a year.

Gender: Women knew better (40%) than men (34%).

Marital status: Married people (40%) are more aware of stroke than their single counterparts (32%).

Need to brush up on your stroke awareness? The Stroke Collaborative (Give Me 5!) is a joint initiative by the American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, American College of Emergency Physicians and American Academy of Cardiology to help spread stroke awareness.

Here are five ways to check if someone is having a stroke:

WALK: Is their balance off?

TALK: Is their speech slurred or face droopy?

REACH: Is one side weak or numb?

SEE: Is their vision all or partly lost?

FEEL: Is their headache severe?

Remember: only one of these symptoms is enough to indicate a stroke. Call 9-1-1

Do women ignore heart symptoms and delay seeking medical care?

May 26, 2008 by  

During those months when I had my heart problems, I experienced symptoms ranging from breathlessness to chronic tiredness. I was lucky because my professional background as a medical writer helped me recognize the early signs. I immediately consulted my GP and was referred to a cardiologist.

Apparently many people particularly women, fail to recognize symptoms of heart problems that eventually lead to even more serious consequences. This is according to a recent study reported during the American Heart Association’s 9th Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research (QCOR) in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke.

Thirty women who suffered from a heart attack were interviewed by researchers at Yale School Medicine. The interviews revealed that many of these women actually failed to recognize and ignored the early signs of an impending heart attack. Most misattributed their symptoms to “fatigue, indigestion, stress or overexertion“, according to lead researcher Judith Lichtman.

The symptoms that the interviewees described in detail included pain in the neck and shoulders, abdominal discomfort, and tiredness. However, they seldom associated these seemingly innocuous symptoms with heart problems. Instead, they expected signs of a heart attack resemble those popularly portrayed in films and on TV. Also those interviewed were young women averaging 48 years in age, many of whom associated heart disorders with advanced age.

Because these misconception, some of these women put off seeking medical help – sometimes up to an hour – till the symptoms become more pronounced. However, other factors also contributed to the delay of getting health care support. These factors were:

• Uncertainty

• Preference to self-medicate

• Perceived negative treatment by healthcare providers

• Competing time/family demands

• Individual beliefs and behaviors to health system failures

• Seeking corroboration of symptoms and deferring responsibility to engage the healthcare system

Delay in seeking medical care, however, can be dangerous, and in the case of heart disease and stroke, can make the difference between life and death.

Heart disease kills one woman almost every minute. More than half of those who died of heart disease in 2002 were women.

Lichtman added that their findings

suggest that additional work is needed to help young women, their families and healthcare providers recognize that young women with heart disease may present with typical and atypical symptoms.”

Do you recognize the symptoms of an impending heart attack? Are you ready to call for help? What are the reasons that might make you delay seeking medical help? Are these reasons valid?


American Heart Association, News Release 15 May 2008

Photo credit

Heart(y) celebrity of the month: BeBe Winans

May 21, 2008 by  

Musical artist, tenor, actor, stage performer, radio host, all these words describe Benjamin “BeBe” Winans. But why do we chose BeBe to be our May celebrity for Battling Heart and Stroke?

Because Bebe Winans is one of the voices behind the “Power to End Stroke” campaign of the American Stroke Association – a very active voice at that.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), prevalence of stroke in the US in 2005 is estimated to be 5.8 million. In 2004, stroke accounted for one 1 out of 16 deaths. Other statistics to ponder upon:

African Americans are especially at risk – they are almost twice as likely to suffer from stroke compared to whites. More than 100,000 African Americans suffer from stroke annually and through the campaign, BeBe Winans, the award-winning gospel singer from Detroit, Michigan reaches out to his fellow African Americans to increase awareness about stroke.

“Power To End Stroke is an education and awareness campaign that embraces and celebrates the culture, energy, creativity and lifestyles of African Americans. It unites African Americans to help make an impact on the high incidence of stroke within the community”

The campaign’s success earned an honourable mention at the 2008 PR Week Awards last March in the category of Multicultural Marketing Campaign of the Year.

The campaign is giving educational and informative materials to African Americans to step up on preventing and overcoming stroke. Basically the main message of the campaign is that

“You have the power to reduce your risk, recognize the signs, respond quickly, and take the pledge.” 

Of utmost important is recognizing the early signs of stroke, as follows:

BeBe Winans started his career performing with his sister Cece Winans or his other siblings but went solo in 1997. He won his First Grammy for Best Soul Gospel Male in 1989.

Other African American celebrities involved in the campaign are the R&B group Az Yet  who composed the campaign’s theme song “Keep on Pushing – The Power Song.”


Photo credit: from

Senator Ted Kennedy hospitalized due to stroke symptoms

May 17, 2008 by  

CNN reports today 17 May 2008:

“Sen. Edward Kennedy was rushed to Cape Cod Hospital in Massachusetts Saturday morning, a well-informed, prominent Democratic source in that state told CNN. The source said the 76-year-old senator had “symptoms of a stroke.”

The latest update:

“Kennedy was transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston for evaluation after initial treatment at Cape Cod Hospital…”

CNN reports that he already had his carotid artery cleared last October to reduce the risk of stroke.

Latest update, 18 May 2007:

Sen Kennedy did not suffer from stroke, according to doctors. He is not in immediately danger and is expected to make a full recovery.

CNN reports:

“Over the next couple of days, Sen. Kennedy will undergo further evaluation to determine the cause of the seizure, and a course of treatment will be determined at that time,” said Dr. Ronan, who is Kennedy’s primary care physician.



The Ovarian Cancer Battle

May 8, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER


Ovaries are the small almond shaped glands that attach to the uterus via the fallopian tubes. They produce eggs and hormones.

According to the American Cancer Society, a woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer in her lifetime is 1 in 71. The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2008 there will be 21,250 new cases diagnosed and 15,520 deaths.

Most Ovarian Cancer develops from:

Epithelial Cells: surface cells covering the ovary, the most commonly diagnosed ovarian cancer
Germ Cells: the egg producing cells

While the cause of ovarian cancer is unknown, it is known what may reduce or increase your risk.

Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors:

  • Your risk of getting ovarian cancer is reduced if you have had a hysterectomy or a tubal ligation (fallopian tubes are ‘tied’)
  • Your risk is lower if you have had children, and lower with each pregnancy
  • Women who have breast fed have a lower risk
  • Women who take birth control pills have a lower risk
  • The use of male hormones to treat endometriosis may increase your risk
  • Obesity may increase your risk
  • A family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer or colorectal cancer increases your risk
  • A personal history of breast cancer increases your risk
  • Use of estrogen therapy alone may increase your risk
  • Most ovarian cancers occur in women who are in menopause.

Please visit the American Cancer Society site for a complete discussion of these risk factors.
Ovarian cancer may be detected with a pelvic exam. By that time it may be advanced. Women with high risk factors and a family history should be extra diligent to maintain routine gynecologic exams and be very observant for possible symptoms.

Symptoms May Include:

Simple acronyms shared by the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance are:

B for Bloating
P for Pelvic or abdominal Pain
D for Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
U for Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)

It’s obvious these symptoms may be indicative of other diseases. Per the American Cancer Society, “If you have symptoms that you can’t explain nearly every day for more than a few weeks, talk to your doctor right away. “

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 (or Breast Cancer 1 and 2) genes are responsible for many cases of familial ovarian cancer and familial breast cancer. Women with a familial link to ovarian cancer should consult their physicians about this test. Source: The Gilda Radner Familial Ovarian Cancer Registry at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.

As part of diagnosis, your physician may order a blood test. A CA-125 will show higher levels in women who have ovarian cancer. Other tests may include various radiographic imaging exams and possibly a biopsy, colonoscopy and or laparoscopy.


Currently a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are the modalities for ovarian cancer treatment. Early diagnosis is the key.

For up-to-date treatment options for ovarian cancer see the National Cancer Institute pages which includes information on antiogenisis, the process of reducing the blood supply to tumors.

teal-ribbon.jpgOvarian Cancer Initiatives and Resources:

One of the strongest voices in the battle against ovarian cancer is the The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Their National Agenda has three initiatives:

1. Advance Ovarian Cancer Research
2. Improve Health Care Practice for Ovarian Cancer, and
3. Expand the National Advocacy Movement for Ovarian Cancer

February 13, 2008, a Yale University Phase II clinical trial released the following information: ” Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have developed a blood test with enough sensitivity and specificity to detect early stage ovarian cancer with 99 percent accuracy. ”

For more information on clinical trials for ovarian cancer see the American Cancer Society Clinical Trials Matching Service, the National Cancer Institute or The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Clinicial Trials Matching Service.

The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (GCF) offers support and advocacy. Upcoming classes include: 2008 Ovarian Cancer Survivors Course.

Ovarian Cancer Canada, and the Winners Walk of Hope: ” Join thousands of people in 14 cities across Canada on Sunday, September 7th to help commemorate September as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.”

Conversations! The International Newsletter for those Fighting Ovarian Cancer.

SHARE: Self-help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer: hotlines, support groups, education and advocacy.

Battling Books:

100 Questions & Answers About Ovarian Cancer, Second Edition by Don S. Dizon (2006)

A Guide to Survivorship for Women With Ovarian Cancer by F. J. Montz, Robert E. Bristow, and Paula J. Anastasia (2005)

It’s My Ovaries, Stupid! by Elizabeth Lee Vliet (2003)

Tomorrow is your last day–comment on any blog post through Friday May 9th, for a chance to win a free pound of Bald Lady coffee.

The Facts: Breast Cancer In Men

April 9, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

Male Breast Cancer comprises 1% of all diagnosed cases of breast cancer.

While rare, breast cancer can occur in men at any age, though it is usually diagnosed in men over fifty, primarily in the 60-70 year age group.

Just like breast cancer in women, early detection is the key to beating male breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2008 some 1,990 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among men in the United States. In 2008, about 450 men will die from breast cancer in the United States.

Male Breast Cancer Risk Factors:

  • Exposure to radiation
  • High levels of estrogen related to other disease entities
  • A history of Klinefelter syndrome
  • Hereditary altered gene factors (BRCA2 gene)
  • Family members diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Excess weight and excessive use of alcohol

Symptoms and Diagnosis:

Lumps or masses discovered in male breasts tend to be smaller than a female breast lump, though often more widespread, probably due to the fact that there is less breast tissue in males. Unfortunately men tend to ignore lumps, masses or redness, of the breast area, instead attributing it to other issues. Other symptoms of male breast cancer can include skin dimpling and nipple changes.

Initial diagnosis steps are the same as those for women and include a complete physical including breast exam, a mammogram and may include a biopsy.

Types of breast cancer found in men include:

  • Infiltrating ductal carcinoma-The most common type of breast cancer which begins in the ducts of the breast and breaks through to breast tissue.
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ-This type of cancer begins in the ducts and has not moved past the walls of the ducts. It is most often curable.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer-An uncommon cancer that does not begin with a lump, caused by cancer cells blocking the lymph ducts.
  • Paget disease of the nipple-A rare cancer that appears as a rash on one nipple, or areola area of the breast and may include an inverted nipple or nipple discharge.

Treatment and Recovery:

Treatment is determined after staging. Staging of breast cancer follows The American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM System.

Treatment options include:

  • Surgery-lumpectomy, mastectomy, lymph node dissection
  • Radiation-external beam, brachytherapy
  • Chemotherapy-in conjunction with other treatments or alone
  • Hormone therapy-most often utilized to prevent cancer from reoccurring
  • Targeted therapy-clinical trials are utilizing laboratory created antibodies to block or kill cancer cells

More detailed information of breast cancer treatment options for men can be found at the National Cancer Institute site.

Further resources and support for Male Breast Cancer:

The New York Times, June 10, 2003, Surprise Role for Ex-Senator: Male Breast Cancer Patient. Former Massachusetts Senator, Edward W. Brooke, discusses his journey with breast cancer.

Male Care-Men fighting cancer together. hosts the Male Breast Cancer Online Support Group.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia-The Differences

March 25, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

The terms dementia and Alzheimer’s are often used interchangeably.  In fact, dementia is not Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s is not dementia, although, they are certainly related.

For example, let’s say you your stomach is bothering you. You can’t eat much and it’s difficult to drink.  At first you shrug it off and hope you’ll lose a few pounds, but then you try to ignore it and finally attempt to soothe it with over the counter medicines, nothing works.  You call your Dr. and make an appointment. A couple of days later, you find yourself in the Dr’s office.  She asks you some questions, examines you and declares, “You have an acute pain in your stomach.”  You think to yourself, “Uh….duh……tell me something I don’t already know.”

Well, if you take your grandfather to the Dr. because he is acting strange, and has a set of symptoms that concern you, and the Dr. says, “He has dementia,” and sends you home.  It is akin to telling you he has a pain, which brings me to my main point.

Dementia is a SYMPTOM.  It is caused by something.  What you know after hearing the word is simply this. The symptomology that caused you to take your grandfather to the doctor is called dementia.  The “pain in the brain,” so to speak, is dementia.  What you need to know now is, what is causing the dementia?  You can click on the link for a detailed definition, but for now, here’s a simple one from Dr. David Roeltgen.

“Dementia is an impairment of thinking and memory that interferes with a person’s ability to do things which he or she previously was able to do.”  Dementia is NOT a part of the normal course of aging.

There are many causes/types of dementia, some of the common ones are:

Parkinson’s disease, Picks disease, brain tumor, alcoholism, Acute B12 defeciency, Hunington’s disease, depression, multi-infarct, and of course, Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease: A progressive neurologic disease of the brain that leads to the irreversible loss of neurons and dementia. The clinical hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease are progressive impairment in memory, judgment, decision making, orientation to physical surroundings, and language. A working diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is usually made on the basis of the neurologic examination. A definitive diagnosis can be made only at autopsy. (Definition adapted from

So, it’s important for you to ask questions, do some research of your own and then ask the doctor to do more tests to discover the CAUSE of the dementia.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss Alzheimer’s testing and diagnostic measures.

In the meantime, I’ll give you a “virtual” penny for your thoughts. Or if you’d rather comment privately, feel free to contact me at:  

Either way, I’d love to hear from you!

Schizophrenia Diseases

March 24, 2008 by  

By Robin Kumar Lim

Schizophrenia (literally “split mind”) is often thought of as a split or dual personality. However, this disease is best defined as a disorganization of normal thought and feeling. It is probably caused by the malfunctioning of the cells through which information flows within the brain. Symptoms usually appear in late adolescence or early adulthood, and extreme mental stress almost always triggers them. The illness is lifelong, but acute attacks tend to come and go, and usually occur at times of emotional upheaval or personal loss.

What are The Symptoms?

Some popular novels, plays and movies have encouraged us to think of schizophrenia in extremely narrow and dramatic terms. Schizophrenia has been presented quite often in terms of the split personality, two seemingly individual and separate people living within the same body.

For most people with schizophrenia, an attack begins with a gradual, or occasionally sudden, withdrawal from day-to-day activities. The person’s speech may become increasingly vague, and he or she may seem to be unable to follow a simple conversation. An acute attack happens unexpectedly. Often the onset is so gradual that it is difficult to know when psychotic symptoms appear. Among such symptoms are apparently disconnected remarks, along with blank looks, that are followed by sudden statements that seem to spring into the speaker’s mind.

Schizophrenics often believe that others hear and “steal” their thoughts. Sometimes they fear they have lost control of bodily movement as well as thought, as if they were puppets. They frequently believe they hear voices, often hostile ones. Less commonly, they have hallucinations of odd physical sensations, of being given poison, or otherwise being attacked by others. In time many schizophrenics build up a set of beliefs in a fantasy world. They may express exaggerated feelings of happiness, bewilderment, or despair. They may laugh at a sad moment or cry without cause. Or they may seem devoid of feeling, so that it becomes almost impossible to make emotional contact with them.

There are several types of schizophrenia that are characterized by the predominant symptoms, but the only practical distinction that most doctors now make is between the paranoid and other types. The main symptom of a person with paranoid schizophrenia is constant suspicion and resentment, accompanied by fear that people are hostile or even plotting to destroy him or her.

What are The Risks?

Most young and middle-aged patients in mental hospitals are there because they are schizophrenic. About 1 person in 1000 has been treated for the disorder. Men and women are equally susceptible. Paranoid schizophrenia is most common in early adulthood (late 20’s through 30’s).

The abnormality of brain chemistry that underlies schizophrenia can be inherited, but if it runs in your family, you will not necessarily have schizophrenic attacks. You may, however, have either a “schizoid personality” (a tendency towards extreme shyness and withdrawal) or a “paranoid personality” (a tendency towards over-sensitivity and distrustfulness) .

People who have attacks of schizophrenia in its most severe forms may physically harm themselves or others, or may try to commit suicide .

What Should be Done?

If you suspect that someone in your family is schizophrenic, try to get them to see a physician. It may not be easy. People who are becoming mentally ill often refuse to admit it. Even those who realize that something is wrong have a fear of being “put away.” But medical care is vital. Do not leave a person who seems extremely disturbed alone. The presence of a relative or friend to reassure them, or even keep them from hurting themselves until help arrives, may be essential. People with symptoms similar to those of schizophrenia are usually admitted to a hospital for a preliminary period of observation. During this time tests are carried out to make sure these symptoms are not due to a physical illness such as a brain tumor.

What is Treatment?

Severe cases must be treated in a hospital. Treatment usually involves the use of drugs, psychotherapy and rehabilitation.

The most effective drugs are regular doses of special tranquilizers designed to modify abnormal brain chemistry. As symptoms gradually disappear, doses are reduced, and all medication may be discontinued when the acute attack ends. Some people, however, need long-term medication. They may either take pills regularly or be given an injection every two to four weeks. Occasionally antidepressant drugs are also prescribed . In rare cases electroshock therapy (EST) may be recommended.

Techniques of psychotherapy vary, but the goal is the same: to help the patient understand the stresses that contributed to the current attack. This can help the person learn how to prevent future stresses from leading to further illness.

The final stage of treatment is rehabilitation, which helps people who are recovering from attacks to regain normal skills and behavior patterns. In the early stages of hospital treatment schizophrenics are generally given occupational therapy. As their condition improves, they are given increasingly complex tasks and pressures, and these eventually approximate the tasks and pressures of the world outside. Once the acute phase of the illness is over, the schizophrenic prepares for a return to the outside world by making periodic visits from hospital to home or to a half-way house.

What are The Long-Term Prospects?

Many people recover from an attack of schizophrenia well enough to return to a relatively normal life. But they may have further attacks. In some people the condition becomes chronic. Such a person will always be withdrawn and emotionally unresponsive, but they generally avoid severe attacks of the disorder with the aid of constant medication.

Author has an experience of more than 4 years writing about diseases and conditions He also holds experience writing about diseases treatment and diseases causes

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Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

March 24, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

Research has shown that Alzheimer’s disease begins long before symptoms begin to manifest.  Therefore, you need to act sooner rather than later if you suspect that your loved one may be Battling the Monster, Alzheimer’s disease.

Here are a few reasons that you should make an appointment:

  1. Short term memory loss.  Forgetting information that has been learned very recently. This happens to the best of us at some point, but usually, we are able to recall the information. Whereas, the person in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease won’t recall recently learned information.
  2.  The inability to do a very simple and familiar task.  If your dad blanks out on how to shave, use the telephone or complete a simple task in the kitchen, then you might have cause for concern.
  3. Misplacing things.  Occasionally misplacing the keys or a purse is not cause for concern.  Putting the keys away in the bathroom closet, or the can opener in the bedroom is cause for concern.
  4. Lack of judgment.  This sometimes shows up driving or even something as simple as getting dressed.  If your grandmother wants 5 layers of clothing on and its 80 degrees or she wants to go sleeveless outside in the snow, then something is wrong. 
  5. Confusion and disorientation.  We all forget the day or date from time to time or get turned around in terms of directions, so that is not what I’m talking about.  If your loved one forgets where he is, where she lives, what year it is or is living in the distant past. Then, you need to get that checked out.
  6. Becoming easily irriated/mood swings.  My mom, who was always very gentle, once grabbed a young child in church because he was running past her.  THAT was way out of character for her.  On the other hand, everyone gets annoyed our upset from time to time, so don’t assume cousin Ann has Alzheimer’s because she is tired and irritable and doesn’t feel like being around a lot of people.

NOTEDehydration, severe urinary tract or other infections and thyroid problems can cause symptoms that mimick Alzheimer’s disease. 

There are other symptoms as well, but if you recognize any of these, then you’ll want to make an appointment with the family doctor, who may refer you to one or more specialists to confirm or deny your suspicions and rule out other conditions.

You sometimes have to wait to get in to see the doctor, so begin keeping a journal or log of behaviors that you consider suspect.  This will help you to get a handle on how often “strange” things are happening.  In addition, it will enable you to be more prepared and specific as you talk with the doctor.

Some of the information came from Alzheimer’s Association and The Help Guide (Alzheimer’s section).

A Quick Reference Guide to Hodgkin’s Disease

March 20, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

Hodgkin’s Disease (HD) or Hodgkin Lymphoma is a type of lymphoma, not to be confused with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

Lymphoma is a cancer that begins at the cellular level of the immune system. For more information on lymphoma in general see the excellent article in our archives.

Hodgkin’s Disease is identified by the presence of the Reed-Sternberg cell.

Hodgkin’s Disease/Hodgkin Lymphoma is broken down into two basic types: Classical Hodgkin lymphoma (95% of all cases) and Nodular lymphocyte-predominate Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL). NLPHL is rare and is identified by a popcorn cell.

HD can start anywhere in the lymphatic system but usually begins in the lymph nodes of the chest, neck or under the arms. It can spread from node to node and into the blood stream.

Classic symptoms of HD:

  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the upper body that are painless
  • Painful lymph nodes after consuming alcohol
  • Unexplained weight loss, poor appetite
  • Night sweats
  • Itchy skin
  • Respiratory distress, or chest pain
  • Unexplained weakness or lethargy

These symptoms are very general and could indicate other diseases, which is why it is important to see a doctor right away for a complete physical. A follow up blood test, chest x-ray and/or CT or PET exam of the lymph nodes and spleen may be indicated. A biopsy (lymph node or bone marrow) is a final tool to check the cellular make-up of your lymphocytes.


Treatment plans will depend on the staging of the disease. Lymphoma has four stages. Stages 1 and 2 are limited disease and stages 3 and 4 indicate more extensive disease. Treatment is individualized and may include combination therapies.

Basic treatment modalities offered for HD may include:

Chemotherapy-Chemotherapy options for adult HD patients are discussed on the Lymphoma Network website.

Radiation-The basics of radiation therapy for the HD patient can be found on the Oncology Channel.

Stem Cell Transplant-For more information the National Cancer Institute provides a fact sheet called: Bone Marrow Transplantation and Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplantation: Questions and Answers. It is in pdf format.

The American Cancer Society reports that in 2008 the estimated new cases and deaths from Hodgkin lymphoma in the United States are 8,220 new cases and 1,350 deaths.

Adults and children get HD but the most common groups are young adults (ages 15-40) and late adulthood (after 55).

Cause and Prevention:

The cause is unknown and so prevention of the disease is not possible.

There are disease indicators, those factors that have been found to be common or proven to indicate an increased risk per the American Cancer Society:

  • Epstein-Barr virus-the risk is somewhat higher in individuals who have had EBV which is the virus that causes mono.
  • Age-the age group characteristics listed above.
  • Gender-HD is slightly more prevalent in males than females
  • Geography-Most common in the U.S., Canada and northern Europe.
  • Family History Risk Factor-Much higher if you have a brother or sister with HD.
  • Socioeconomic-Higher risk is noted in people with a higher socioeconomic background.


**The New York Times features an in depth article called Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in their Health Guide, dated today, March 20, 2008. This is an excellent resource. Print it out and save it.**

The American Cancer Society: Learn About Hodgkin’s Disease.

The Hodgkin’s Lymphoma page of the National Cancer Institute.

The Lymphoma Information Network:For information on Adult and Childhood Hodgkin’s Disease.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Cure Hodgkin’

The Lymphoma Research Foundation

For support: The Violet Ribbon Campaign: Uniting the Hodgkin’s Disease Community.

Please send a note if you have other valuable resources you would like mentioned.

Who is Prostate Cancer?

March 18, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

He can be any man.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men after lung cancer, affecting one in six men in the U.S.

He is rarely under the age of 40, usually over 50 and in fact two-thirds of all cases are diagnosed in men over 65.

60 to 61% of the time he is an African American male.

He is twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer if he has/had a father or brother with the disease. There is also an inherited gene for prostate cancer, affecting 5 to 10 % of all diagnosed cases. While research into genetic testing is promising, it is not yet available.

For more information on who is prostate cancer see the Prostate Cancer Foundation site.

The Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada offers a risk assessment quiz on their website.

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You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do….Dealing With Incontinence

March 17, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

Happy Monday!

Did you get some REST over the weekend?  I hope you did, cuz Monday isn’t comin’ it is here.  Which means, if you are in the sandwich generation, it’s time to deal with school, extra curricular activities and caregiving.  If you are not in the sandwich, you are back to the workweek and still have lots to do.

I thought we’d spend the first part of this week talking about an uncomfortable, but almost inevetible part of Alzheimer’s caregiving.  Incontinence. 

Incontinence is the inability of a person to voluntarily control his or her bladder and or bowel functions.  Usually, it doesn’t  happen all at once, it takes place over a period of time.  Often bladder function fades first, followed by a decrease or disappearance of bowel control.  Maybe, granny’s urges are strong and when she says she has to go, she means she has to go NOW.  It could be that grandpa “leaks” a little and starts to have a slight (or not so slight) odor; or it could be that mom, who has become completely incontinent, has little to no control of her urinary and or bowel functions.

Fact:  People with Alzhiemer’s disease will eventually become incontinent.  The disease impacts brain function.  It is important to note that incontinence is NOT forgetting where the bathroom is or forgetting the steps required to locate and properly use the bathroom.  Incontinence in the person affected with Alzheimer’s disease is about the brain not working.  I mentioned in a earlier post that my mom and my son passed each other on the developmental spectrum.  He was growing and she was regressing.  As the brain loses function, they become like babies in almost every sense. Incontinence is part of what I call the “going back” syndrome.

Okay, let me just say it straight.  Urine is urine and poop is poop.  It’s not nuclear waste.  It’s not toxic waste and it won’t kill you!  As a matter of fact, everyone poops! 

We’ll get to the details of handling this issue later in the week, but for now, I need you to just understand that like your toddler teething, teenager driving and the IRS looking to hear from you on April 15, incontinence is coming.  So stay tuned and we’ll talk about what to do about it, how to handle the embarrassment associated with it, and some products and medications to make it more manageable. 

Believe me, if your loved one is NOT excreting then you have a much bigger issue to worry about.  So let’s navigate these murky (no pun intended) waters together as we explore the best ways to handle that which is inevitable for those of us who find ourselves in the honored position of Alzheimer’s caregivers.

What Is Diabetic Neuropathy?

February 4, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

Causes and Symptoms

If you are diabetic and have neuropathy, then you are familiar with the painful, burning, and sometimes tingling sensation of neuropathy. Neuropathy is thought to be caused by a loss of blood supply to nerves in the body. This is a dangerous condition and can caused fatalities. Nerves affected can be any of those in the human body, including the nervous system that is associated with internal organs, such as the heart, lungs, and liver.

In some cases, the neuropathy can give a diabetic the appearance of someone who has had a stroke. Drooping in the face, mainly around the eyes and mouth can occur. Difficulty swallowing, speech impairment, vision problems, and erectile dysfunction are only a few of the problems caused by neuropathy.


The only known way to prevent neuropathy or to control its’ spread is by having very strict control of your blood glucose levels. Even with this strict attention, the neuropathy can only be reversed or prevented if the onset is recent. Years of neuropathy cannot be reversed. This means: If you have diabetes, start a tight regimen now. Do not delay. Years of damage cannot be repaired!

There are some drugs which can give some relief of symptoms, but due to the amount of side effects at this time, stronger drugs are not available. In some cases the drugs that are the strongest have debilitating side effects. Your doctor can be consulted for your best options, you should not rely on research alone to choose a medicine for this disability. This is extremely important in this day and age when drugs are available over the internet for purchase.

I want to be very clear here. If you purchase medication online for this disability, you can die. Only use the medication your doctor prescribes.

Alternative Treatments

New approaches are being studied to treat neuropathy with good results. One of the most recent is the study of a special form of the vitamin B12. The results were mixed with this treatment. Another diet additive was an anti-oxidant known as a-lipoid acid. A dose of under 1800 milligrams was used, as higher doses caused nausea. Some benefit was shown in the clinical trials, though the study has not been published.

Vegans will not be surprised that a vegan diet with moderate exercise has been shown to improve diabetes symptoms, including neuropathy. This diet is high in vitamins, anti-oxidants, and the vitamins the body needs. Low in cholesterol and other body harming byproducts, a vegan diet promotes good health and good glucose control for diabetics.

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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.