December Newsletter

Doctors are great at what they do.  Even when you trust that your doctor’s recommendations or treatment plan is the right one for you, sometimes the power of getting a second opinion can be beneficial.  It may not only confirm appropriate treatment your doctor has determined but it can also present options you were unaware of.  Other times, it can provide an answer to something your doctor cannot quite figure out.  We have a case where a second opinion saved someone from having a very serious, high risk surgery that can impact life-long challenges.  (Her name was changed for privacy reasons)

What Exactly Is Happening?

Susan started experiencing continued abdominal pain.  She sought local treatment and was diagnosed with irritate bowel syndrome (IBS).  They put her on a gluten-free, dairy-free and starch carb-free diet. Her pain did not improve, it actually got worse. All the while, her GI doctor was still diagnosing her with IBS. 

A couple of years later, she arrived at the ER in severe pain. Susan was told she had sigmoid volvulus and emergency surgery was performed the next morning. She did well for 6 months until one evening, the excruciating pain returned. Another trip to the ER was made and another obstruction was found. She was put on a Nasogastric (NG) tube and off work for 1 week.  2 weeks later she was in pain and made a trip back to the ER where they put her on a NG tube again. 

Finally, the head of the GI department at the hospital told her that they would need to remove her colon. Removing your colon is no simple surgery.  It comes with high risks for complications, not to mention life long changes that might require a permanent colostomy bag.

Yet, the next day she was released from the hospital. No explanation was given as to why she was told she needed surgery the day before to her release to go home. 

Decision to Get A Second Opinion

After her discharge, Susan decided it was time to get a second opinion. She was referred to a facility in Boston that offers excellent care and is patient centered. After the first visit the GI doctor and Colorectal Surgeon suspected she might have an outlet obstruction. They recommended she see the pelvic floor clinic at another medical hospital nearby. The hospital did a diagnostic study, defogram, that is not done locally in Halifax. Based on the results of this study, a true diagnosis was finally given  – Idiopathic GI Dysmotility. 

The proposed treatment for this is physiotherapy for the pelvic floor, biofeedback and massage for the colon. Surgery for this condition is the absolute last option. 

Susan returned home, began this treatment and as of today, is doing well. She takes no medication and most importantly, she has her colon.

Susan’s Words

‘The difference between the local doctors and the facility I visited in Boston is that the doctors in Boston worked as a team. They reviewed her records prior to her appointment so that both of their time was put to good use. Doctors locally do not communicate as a team and they want you in and out ASAP. I was a very compliant patient and this was my frustration. How can I do everything they are saying and more and be no further ahead. It didn’t make sense to me. As far as a real diagnosis here (in Halifax) they really never came up with one. It may be “scar tissue” was all they could come up with.’

Consider a Second Opinion

Health Vantis works with several reputable facilities that can provide second opinions to you.  If you have something undiagnosed, recently diagnosed or are scheduled for a serious surgery, consider getting another opinion.  It may prevent something unnecessary or even just give you the peace of mind that what has been recommended is appropriate.  We are happy to help make the arrangements!

 

Enjoy Some Tips for A ‘Healthier’ Holiday Party

Holidays are known for over indulging and the notion that you will re-start your diet as a New Year’s Resolution.  But you can still attend a holiday party and indulge without breaking all of your healthy eating habits.  It just takes planning and sometimes strategy.  

Here are some tips to keep you in check:

  • Offer to bring food and choose a healthy one.
  • Eat a small piece of protein prior to going so your belly already has something in it.  It will prevent that craving that makes you want to over indulge when you see the spread.
  • Mentally go in knowing how much you will allow yourself to eat or drink.
  • Choose veggies or protein first as they will fill you up faster.
  • Do the ‘1 bite’ rule where you only take enough for 1 bite just to have the taste.
  • Use a smaller plate or glassware.
  • Only go back to the table once and do not linger to avoid picking.
  • Have water between helpings and alcoholic drinks to keep you full.
  • Avoid eating everyday foods – Instead of using all of your calories on foods you can have any time of the year, pick foods that are truly unique to the season.
  • Don’t cave into peer pressure to have more. Have a line ready such as ‘It all looks delicious so I’m going to try and pace myself’!
  • Have a mint or chew a piece of gum.  The feeling of a clean palate can curb additional snacking.

Most of all, focus on the joy of being around others.  Really being in the moment of the conversations will force you to forget about the table behind you calling your name!

 

Happy Holidays

We wanted to take the time to thank you for all of your support and continuous interest in Health Vantis this year.  Our success comes from you and the relationships we’ve made.  We wish you a heartfelt Holiday Season full of laughter, family and love!  Christy & Leanna

November 2018 Newsletter

We can’t believe that November has arrived – 2018 has been a fast and exciting year! In this issue we are putting the spotlight on MDAccess, a company that connects you to a doctor on the phone any time, anywhere. We also talk about Lung Cancer and advancements in diagnostics and treatments, as November is Lung Cancer Awareness month.

MDAccess – Doctor at Your Fingertips

MDAccess allows businesses and individuals to directly connect with a team of Canadian-based nurses and doctors to resolve and document a medical issue. It is designed to help people get medical assistance when and where they need it. We had a pleasure to chat with Mike Vaughan, President of Preventative Healthcare Canada, the company that brings you MDAccess.

Health Vantis: Mike, there has been a lot of press about telehealth as well as some companies emerging that provide these services. Why was MDAccess created and what problem does it solve?  

Mike: MDAccess started over 20 years ago as a service for remote industrial companies that didn’t always have the resources to have a doctor on site.  We recently identified the need and opportunity to offer MDAccess to groups very similar to an employee benefits model.  The biggest benefit of the service is as a member of an MDAccess group the client/patient has immediate access to medical service. No more hours of waiting and wondering. Imagine sitting at home with a severe pain, yet knowing you cannot reach your own doctor by phone and hesitant to travel to the closest emergency department and waiting hours. Make a single phone call and you have immediate access to a nurse and doctor as required! Approximately 85% of the calls that MDAccess receives are resolved on the phone and therefore save patients from having to go to a walk-in clinic or an emergency department.  The benefit is two-fold. We help eliminate unnecessary trips to the doctor, and you can receive advice, guidance and a treatment plan without even having to leave the comfort of your home, office, or even away on work/holidays.  The service is 24/7 and travels with you worldwide! All of this for as little as a dollar a day!

Health Vantis: It is a competitive market out there. What sets you apart from others?

Mike: The biggest differentiator for our service is that we are owned and run by an emergency physician.  Other similar services are operated as a connector service.  As such, you are simply connected to an available Doctor. At MDAccess, all Doctors are employed by MDAccess and work under a disciplined holistic service and reporting standard. We currently have 20+ doctors on our staff, and we are continually fielding requests from physicians that are excited about the opportunity to join the MDAccess team.

Health Vantis: How did you get involved?

Mike: I was first introduced to one of my partners (there are 3 of us that own PHC) by a mutual friend.  He and his brother had already started the company, but were looking for someone who was the right fit to really run with the concept.  We had a lot of conversations about different aspects of our healthcare industry and what we could do to help.  We had, and still do have very similar thoughts on how we could help eliminate some of the strain on healthcare system and provide immediate access to a doctor when needed, without travel or the typical excessive wait times.  It was a great fit right from the start, and it continues to be a collaborative work between us.

Wondering how MDAccess works? 3 easy and simple steps:

  1. complete your and your family’s personal health record
  2. download the app to help self- identify your symptoms and
  3. call the MDAccess number.

You will then speak to a nurse who will perform a comprehensive assessment and connect you to a doctor within minutes. You are covered 24/7. If required, prescriptions can be sent directly to your pharmacy – what a great feature for those that have run out or forgot their medications and are traveling to a different province!

Services are available in French or English to all Canadians. You can even send photos of your medical issue directly to the doctor and all medical information is kept safe and secure.

My favorite feature besides easy access? If I still need to go to ER, the doctor will give me clear and comprehensive instructions on what I need to tell to the ER to save time and get medical help. That is a lifesaver to someone in distress over a medical issue and bridges the communication between doctors so that no time is wasted when I get to the ER.

If you or your company are interested in the service, contact Health Vantis to learn more and subscribe!

 

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

According to Canadian Cancer Society, lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers). It is the leading cause of death from cancer for both men and women in Canada.

Early detection and diagnosis are the key to surviving lung cancer. National lung cancer screening trial that enrolled 50,000 participants revealed that after the six-year follow-up, there was a 20% reduction in lung cancer deaths. In other cancers like breast, the average reduction rate is 3-4%. There was also a 7% reduction in ‘all case’ mortality with patients dying less of other diseases and conditions. As a comparison, it takes 320 lung cancer screens to prevent one lung cancer death while it takes 600 colonoscopies to detect one case of colon cancer.

In 2016 The Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care released a new guideline recommending annual lung cancer screening in high risk adults ages 55-74. This was a huge step forward.

Lung cancer is a disease that has been stigmatized due to its association with smoking.  However, as many as 15% of lung cancer patients are life long NON-smokers, and 50% of patients diagnosed with lung cancer have quit before the time of diagnoses. Although smoking remains the greatest risk factor for this disease there are others. Exposure to environmental hazards such as radon, asbestos, arsenic beryllium and uranium have been linked to lung cancer. Radiation increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Disease such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and TB may increase the risk as well. Lung cancer risk increases with age – only about 10% of lung cancer cases occur in people younger than 50 years old. People that are born with poor lungs can also get lung cancer.

According to the International Association For the Study of Lung Cancer, the below are the early symptoms. If you are experiencing any of them, please discuss them with your family doctor.

  1. Coughing, especially if it persists or becomes intense
  2. Pain in the chest, shoulder, or back unrelated to pain from coughing
  3. A change in color or volume of sputum
  4. Shortness of breath
  5. Changes in the voice or being hoarse
  6. Harsh sounds with each breath (stridor)
  7. Recurrent lung problems, such as bronchitis or pneumonia
  8. Coughing up phlegm or mucus, especially if it is tinged with blood
  9. Coughing up blood
  10. Pain or aching in your chest, shoulder, back or an arm

 

What are the advances in detecting and treating lung cancer?

CT scans to detect early lung cancer

People that used to smoke and quit have been long ignored for the testing of lung cancer because X-rays have not been able to pick up small nodules that could morph into cancer. Now a CT scan provides 3D images of the lungs. The doctors can look for nodules, which on a scan appear like a shadow. Finding something in the lungs doesn’t necessarily mean cancer. Nodules can be scar tissue or inflammation and about 95% of nodules are.

Immunotherapy

Revolutionary immunotherapies have doubled life expectancy in some lung cancer patients by leveraging the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Discoveries of new molecular biomarkers such as EGFR, are helping doctors find better ways to target variations among lung cancer tumors, leading to more effective drug treatments. Combination therapies that use a mix of traditional chemotherapies and cutting-edge immunotherapies are making big inroads in treating lung cancer, especially among patients with later stage disease that has spread beyond the lungs.

Surgery For Small Nodules– Microcoil Localization

Very small tumors, or nodules, have not been traditionally operated on due to their small size. Smaller size nodules have less solid component to them and are deeper in the lung tissue so surgeons could not be confident they can feel it.  So larger incisions had to be made, which lead to more invasive surgeries and more trauma to the patient.

Microcoil Localization technique evolved out of a need to reliably identify smaller nodules in the lung for removal. Microcoil localization uses CT images to help the radiologist place a small wire coil into the nodule so the surgeon can find it and remove it.

Microcoil is a special wire that’s been designed to coil on both ends. The radiologist places the wire at the right depth using a CT scanner that shows exactly where the nodule is. This can be done without having to make any incisions; rather the coil is placed using a needle that’s loaded with a flexible platinum wire. After the wire has been placed by the radiologist, the surgeon takes over, using a camera to find the wire. The surgeon then conducts a wedge resection, removing a wedge-shaped portion of tissue surrounding the nodule. The removed tissue is tested immediately and if the patient needs additional surgery, it can be done right then and there.

October Newsletter

Main Story

October is Stroke Awareness Month.  This is especially important to us because our very own Leanna Christie, Director and Owner of Health Vantis, has had personal experience with having a stroke.  Read below to see her story.

Leanna’s story:

At age 43, I had a stroke. To be more exact, the MRI showed that it happened three times. The scans reflect three different age lighter areas of my brain that were deprived of oxygen at different times because of blood clots. 

How does that happen at this age? To be honest, it happens more often that we think. A third of strokes that happen between ages 18-45 are considered cryptogenic – the cause is not known. My story is just one of many. On May 2nd, as I was sitting in a meeting,  I had one of my usual migraines that started with a visual aura, or a bright, squiggly lines in the sides of my vision. It grew into a headache, again, quite similar to migraines I had in the past, during which it is hard to read or look at any screens. In addition, this one brought a difficulty in focusing.  

A day later I noticed a slight inability to see to my left. I ran over a traffic cone when backing out of a gas station. I then ran very close to the curb on a right turn. Although not the best driver in the world, I am a cautious one and was a bit alarmed. I also noticed when using my phone to text that I got the letters to the left wrong at times. I was also incredibly tired and had a hard time focusing. 

After sharing the vision issues with a friend of mine, she convinced me to go see a doctor. I was able to see my family doctor quite quickly, on May 4th. After performing a basic vision test that revealed nothing, she sent me for a CT scan. I didn’t think much of all of it, and thought that the tiredness I was also experiencing was just part of getting old. On May 15th, I had a CT scan done. Next day I got a call in the morning from both my physician and the neurology clinic, and things started to unravel. 

I am 5’7” and weight about 130 pounds with no history of strokes in the family. I exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet. Other than having my son, I have not been to a hospital. A stroke sure sounded like something that happens when you are over 65 or not taking care of yourself.

To fast-forward the story, the 5 days I was in the hospital and an extensive workup that followed, the reasons for my stroke still remain unclear. There are certain antibodies in my blood that are indicative of an autoimmune disease that makes my blood clot. Other symptoms speak for this as well. The positive tests do not meet the definite diagnostics requirements and therefore my diagnosis is unclear. While it is understandable to err on the side of caution, the fact that it is not 100% certain keeps me awake at night sometimes.  I was put on blood thinners, as recommended in the case of someone with this autoimmune disease.

It can be unsettling at times to think of what may occur in the future. I do realize how incredibly lucky I am to have no major impact and that my family doctor listened, didn’t brush off my symptoms and requested further investigation.  Although I struggled for about a year with fatigue and difficulties focusing, things are getting a lot better now. If a lesson is to be learned from my story I would say it is that you have to listen and trust yourself and your body.  Pay attention and know when to seek medical help.

 

Know The Warning Signs and Additional Statistics About Stroke

Infographic courtesy of the American Heart Association

 

Breast Cancer: What’s New

Research has shown that the death rate among women with breast cancer has decreased significantly each year since 1993.  This is due all in part to better research and treatments now available.

Chemotherapy, a drug treatment that has many adverse side effects, is not always the first choice of treatment anymore.  Many physicians are opting to use other treatments that have fewer side effects with better results.  Here’s a look at a couple of new and exciting treatments being used in breast cancer patients:

No Chemotherapy for Early Stage Breast Cancer

In June of this year, it was announced that women with a particular type of early-stage breast cancer could forgo chemotherapy and be treated with just hormones and/or surgery.  The study, which was the largest breast cancer treatment trial ever, showed that 70% of women may avoid chemotherapy.  

In women over the age of 50 that have HR-Positive, HER2-Negative, node-negative cancer and a score of up to 25, chemotherapy can be avoided.  There are 85% of women in this age category that fall into this group.  In women under the age of 50 with the same type but score of 0-15, they can also forgo chemotherapy.  Forty percent of women in this age range fall within this group.  

Ribociclib (Kisqail)

Ribociclib blocks or interferes with substances that play a role in cancer cell progression.  It targets the proteins in cancer cells and stops them from growing. 

In March of 2017, Ribociclib (Kisqali) was approved by the U.S. FDA to treat postmenopausal women with HR-Positive, HER2-Negative advanced or metastatic breast cancer.  Since that time, they have recently expanded the treatment, July 2018, for the approval of Ribociclib to be used for the treatment of advanced HR-Positive, HER2-Negative cancer in women who haven’t yet reached menopause.  This would be in conjunction with another type of hormone therapy called an aromatase inhibitor.  The FDA also expanded Ribociclib’s approval for use in postmenopausal women with Fulvestrant (Faslodex), a different type of hormone therapy.

Immunotherapy

When someone develops cancer, the immune system doesn’t recognize the cancer cells as foreign (bad) cells, thus, it doesn’t know how to attack them. They trick our immune system into thinking they are not harmful.  Scientists and researchers have come a long way in learning how to get the immune system to recognize they are bad cells through Immunotherapy and attack them. 

How immunotherapy works is that T-cells (your immune systems white blood cells) are removed from the tumor.  The researchers determine which ones are fighting the growth the most.  Scientists then re-engineer the genes in those cells making them stronger in order to recognize malignancies and return them to your system.  The thought is that the immune system now recognizes these as foreign cells and starts fighting them off just like it would a common cold or virus.  

Immunotherapy has seen major breakthroughs in the past year.  Approval of 2 CAR-T treatments has paved the way for cancer attacking therapies.  All cancers contain mutations so techniques could potentially be applied to any kind of tumor or cancer, not just breast cancer.  It has been shown to shrink hard to treat tumors in colon and cervical cancers as well, however, it is still in the infancy stages and researchers have a long way to go.

Conclusion

So, very exciting break throughs for breast cancer patients. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer and would like to explore these options, please contact us! Our cancer facilities are doing these newer, advanced techniques and treat each cancer as unique to provide the best outcome for you.

September 2018 Newsletter

Hello everyone and welcome to fall! Time to get back to our routines and get settled in work and school mode. Summer is short and sweet in most parts of Canada, but I personally am getting to love the fall – with its vibrant colors, cooler mornings and crisp air. The month of September has a few important health awareness dates. In this issue we will talk about Ovarian Cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and Prostate PSA test screening significance.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month – September 2018

Ovarian cancer has been called the Silent Killer because its presenting symptoms can be mistaken for other benign conditions such as the ones that affect the gastrointestinal system, or simply changes in a woman’s body as she ages. However, it is the fifth most common cancer affecting women. It is estimated that this year 2,800 Canadian women will be newly diagnosed with this disease.

Early detection

It is very unfortunate but there is no reliable screening test for ovarian cancer. That is why early detection is very difficult and the diagnosis is often delayed because the symptoms are considered nonspecific. Often times the symptoms are either ignored or attributed to other age-related problems like constipation, irritable bowel or indigestion.  The majority of ovarian cancer diagnoses are made in stage 3 and 4, when it has spread to other parts of the body. According to the American Cancer Society, only 20% of ovarian cancers are found at an early stage.  If it is found early, about 94% of patients live longer than 5 years after diagnosis.

Symptoms

According to Ovarian Cancer Canada, the common symptoms include:

  1. Bloating – increased abdominal size/persistent bloating
  2. Eating – difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  3. Pain – in pelvic or abdominal areas
  4. Urinary symptoms – urgency or frequency

Other symptoms may be present such as changes in bowel habits, extreme fatigue or unexplained weight loss. Just because you have those symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have ovarian cancer. You should seek the advice of your doctor, however, if these symptoms are new, persistent and frequent. Women should pay attention to their symptoms and seek professional advice.

Testing

Although neither of the below tests on its own can tell whether or not one has ovarian cancer, the three work together to identify a possibility. The only definite way to confirm the diagnosis is through a biopsy.

  • Complete pelvic exam
  • Transvaginal or pelvic ultrasound
  • CA-125 blood test

If any of these tests suggest the presence of ovarian cancer your doctor may advise surgery to examine the cells and check for malignancy. Ensure that you are referred to a gynecologic oncologist for the surgery. Research has shown that when surgery is performed by a gynecologic oncologist instead of another physician, the patient outcomes are improved.

Risk factors and groups

The causes of ovarian cancer are unknown. The likelihood of developing the disease may be higher if a woman has one or more risk factors. One of the key risk factors is age. Most women who develop ovarian cancer are diagnosed after menopause, at age 55 or older, although patients in their 40s and 50s have also been diagnosed with the disease.

If you have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, you may also be at an increased risk. Talk to your doctor about genetic testing and other steps you may be able to take to monitor or reduce your ovarian cancer risk, such as preventive surgery.

Other risk factors include:

  • Lynch syndrome
  • Never being pregnant or giving birth
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
  • Obesity

If you are suspecting something is not right with your body, please talk to your medical doctor. If you are being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, seeking a second opinion in diagnosis and treatment plan is always a good idea. Remember it is your right to seek a second opinion. Health Vantis works with one of the best Cancer treatment facilities in the US and we are always here to help.

 

September 21 Is World Alzheimer Awareness Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you know that it is possible to have Alzheimer’s in your 40-ies and 50-ies? It is estimated that in Canada approximately 16,000 people experience an early onset of dementia. Some of those people may still have children living at home, have full-time jobs and maybe caregivers to their own parents.

Dementia can happen for a number of reasons.  Alzheimer’s disease is one of them. If you are wondering what is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s, we have this fantastic video for you kindly provided by Trinity Brain Health. The disease is irreversible and it destroys brain cells causing deterioration with memory and thinking ability. For more videos about dementia click here.

Diagnosing young onset Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult. Doctors usually don’t consider the disease in younger people. Symptoms can be incorrectly attributed to stress or there may be conflicting diagnoses from different healthcare professionals. People who have early-onset Alzheimer’s may be in any stage of dementia – early stagemiddle stage or late stage. The disease affects each person differently and symptoms will vary.

The 10 warning signs of the disease are listed below and are taken from the Alzheimer Society Canada website:

  1. Memory loss affecting day-to-day abilities – forgetting things often or struggling to retain new information.
  2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks – forgetting how to do something you’ve been doing your whole life, such as preparing a meal or getting dressed.
  3. Problems with language – forgetting words or substituting words that don’t fit the context.
  4. Disorientation in time and space – not knowing what day of the week it is or getting lost in a familiar place.
  5. Impaired judgment – not recognizing a medical problem that needs attention or wearing light clothing on a cold day.
  6. Problems with abstract thinking – not understanding what numbers signify on a calculator, for example, or how they’re used.
  7. Misplacing things – putting things in strange places, like an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.
  8. Changes in mood and behavior – exhibiting severe mood swings from being easy-going to quick-tempered.
  9. Changes in personality – behaving out of character such as feeling paranoid or threatened.
  10. Loss of initiative – losing interest in friends, family and favorite activities.

If you are experiencing memory problems:

  • Have a comprehensive medical evaluation with a doctor who specializes in Alzheimer’s disease. Getting a diagnosis involves a medical exam and possibly cognitive tests, a neurological exam and/or brain imaging.  Reach out to your provincial Alzheimer’s Society.
  • Write down symptoms of memory loss or other cognitive difficulties to share with your healthcare professional.
  • Keep in mind that there is no one test that confirms Alzheimer’s disease. A diagnosis is only made after a comprehensive medical evaluation

September Is Also Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian men. Many older men have this disease without knowing it. It usually grows slowly and can often be completely removed or successfully managed when it is diagnosed. While a cancer diagnosis can be scary, prostate cancer has high survivor rates, especially when it is caught and treated early.

Routine screening has improved the diagnosis of prostate cancer in recent years. Men over the age of 50 should talk with their doctor about whether they should have testing for early detection of prostate cancer.  Men with one or more risk factors should consult a doctor about whether to begin screenings earlier, before age 40. Known risk factors for prostate cancer are family history, race and a diet high in saturated fat and red meat.

The following tests may be used to help detect prostate cancer early:

  • Direct Rectal Examination
  • Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA).

Although PSA test may not be perfect, Prostate Cancer Canada insists that it is the best indicator in clinical practice and an important red flag to show that something may be wrong. It recommends that men in their 40ies get a PSA test to establish their baseline.

So what is PSA and why is it used? Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) is a protein produced within the prostate gland and is secreted into seminal fluid. The PSA test is a simple blood test. It measures the level of PSA in the blood. An elevated level of PSA may be a sign of prostate cancer. However, a high reading of PSA may also indicate non-cancerous conditions such as inflammation and enlargement of the prostate.

No single normal level has been established. Historically, a level of 4.0 ng/mL or higher was used to justify a biopsy of the prostate (a sample of prostate tissue) to try and determine if a man has prostate cancer. However, this practice has been changing and other factors are being considered in the decision to perform a prostate biopsy.

Prostate cancer has been detected in men with levels less than 4.0 ng/mL. And many men with PSA levels higher than 4.0 ng/mL do not have prostate cancer. There is no PSA level below which the risk of cancer is zero. Two men with the same PSA level may have very different risks of prostate cancer depending on other risk factors.

Common signs and symptoms of prostate cancer are:

  • Burning or pain during urination
  • Difficulty urinating, or trouble starting and stopping while urinating
  • More frequent urges to urinate at night
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Decreased flow or velocity of urine stream
  • Blood in urine (hematuria)

If you or your loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms ensure you raise the question of prostate cancer possibility with your doctor.

 

 

August 2018 Newsletter

International Overdose Awareness Day (Aug 31st)

History of Opioids

Opioids have been around for thousands of years.  It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that regulation was put on the distribution and use of them.  From 1920-1950 in an attempt to prevent addiction, it was primarily used for terminally ill patients, many with cancer, that had acute pain, rather than chronic pain.  In the mid-1970’s other types of opioids such as Percocet and Vicodin were being developed and distributed.  Health Canada approved OxyContin to be prescribed for moderate and severe pain control in 1996. 

In 1998, Purdue Pharma spent $207 Million on the marketing of OxyContin.  This came with a push for physicians to prescribe opioids to patients for all types of pain such as back pain or fibromyalgia, not just for terminally ill or cancer patients.  By the early to mid-2000’s, the abuse and misuse of opioid products containing Oxycodone and Hydrocodone, along with brand names such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet and Lortab doubled. 

The pharmaceutical companies began producing alternate formulations of extended-release and immediate release properties meant to deter abuse, however, none of these formulations prevented abuse.  Abusers quickly learned it could be crushed and broken down for immediate effects.  By 2010, heroin use, also an opioid, and overdose began increasing and in 2013 there was a significant increase in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, particularly manufactured fentanyl (IMF).

How Overdose Occurs

Opioids are highly addictive and even infrequent use can lead to dependency. Many opioid abusers progress their way to heroin because it’s cheaper.  Habitual or prolonged use can cause changes in the pain center part of your brain and prevent your body from naturally producing endorphins, which manage your pain center.  Tolerance to the euphoric effect of opioids that people become addicted to develops faster than the actual tolerance, creating a dangerous situation.  People will take more of it to get that high, however, high doses slow voluntary breathing, putting the individual into respiratory distress.  Fast acting injections of opioid fentanyl can cause the diaphragm and other muscles in the chest to seize up, eventually stopping your heart.  

Individuals that are in recovery for opioid addiction and relapse, have a higher rate of overdose.  The reason for this is because their brain thinks they can start where they left off on the amount taken, however, the body has detoxed and the tolerance is no longer there.  It becomes a shock to the system and can cause overdose.

Effects of Opioid Use: Who’s to Blame?

Today, Canada is the world’s second highest per-capita consumer of prescription painkillers.  The USA holds first place.  So who is to blame or hold accountable here?  The pharmaceutical companies promoting false advertising about the safety of it?  Doctors knowing from a clinical perspective the risks, yet still prescribing it?  The system who leaves their people in chronic pain waiting months, sometimes years, to have a surgery that would alleviate their pain?  Limited resources for those suffering from addiction and availability for prompt treatment programs?  It’s hard to say.  My opinion is that it is probably a little bit of everything.  

In 2007, Purdue Pharma acknowledged the marketing of OxyContin was misleading and paid $634.5 Million to settle criminal and civil charges.  They have stopped marketing opioids in the United States altogether due to mounting lawsuits.  Purdue’s Canadian operation has not made a similar admission of their wrongdoing and the marketing still continues in Canada.    

The rate of opioid use increased by 203% from the years 2000-2010.  In 2017 there were 3.987 apparent opioid-related deaths, 92% unintentional, reported by the Government of Canada. (1)  This is a huge red light of just how dangerous usage in any form is.  Yet, leaders do not know why it is on the rise or how to combat it.  

The Canadian government has been trying to make changes to streamline things and have more transparent regulations.  Putting guidelines and regulations on pharmaceutical companies marketing and advertising opioids appears to be the place to start.

What To Do?

Health Vantis works with individuals that are put on long wait lists for surgery.  Many of our clients will have been in pain for months, often times years.  Unfortunately, the only way they can function is to mask the pain with medication and often times, an opioid will be prescribed.  These are people with chronic pain, not acute pain.  As indicated earlier, opioids were initially used for acute pain in terminally ill patients.  The dangers of being on these medications with chronic pain increase your odds of addiction, not to mention unintentional overdose.  No one wants to be in pain, myself included.  If you are put in a position like this, don’t just accept a prescription until your surgery date.  Explore your options to avoid an unnecessary risk.  

In the workplace, employers are very aware of how much mental illness can affect their bottom line, however, substance abuse is often overlooked.  For ways to incorporate this into your business plan and spot possible addiction, please check out these websites:

https://www.ncadd.org/about-addiction/addiction-update/drugs-and-alcohol-in-the-workplace

http://www.builderonline.com/builder-100/people/resources-for-addressing-drug-use-in-the-workplace_o

 

    1.     https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/national-report-apparent-opioid-related-deaths-released-june-2018.html

 

Benefits of Yoga 

When we think of yoga we often visualize pretzel shaped poses and movements you didn’t realize a body could do.  We know yoga provides for an improvement in flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance but what other benefits can yoga have?  Let’s explore some benefits yoga provides for chronic illnesses we may not have considered:

        Fertility – Reducing stress levels, better blood flow to reproductive organs, improvement in organ and hormone function.

        Back Pain – Greater flexibility to improve spinal movement and muscle strength to hold your core better.  Utilizing your core muscles protects the back from being used.

        Heart Disease – Can help reduce arterial plaque and overall heart health.

        Asthma – Breathing practice is essential in yoga.  It helps ease the symptoms of asthma.

        Memory Booster – Releasing negative thoughts and tension improve your ability to organize your thoughts.  This allows for improved cognitive function.

        Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – Improves fatigue with the building of muscles and coordination. 

        Arthritis – Can improve pain and disability with slow, gentle movement.  Hot yoga also helps reduce muscle tightness allowing for deeper stretching.

        Insomnia – Focusing on breathing can calm your mind from the hamster wheel of thoughts.  Certain positions such as lying on your back with feet on a wall yield better circulation for relaxation.

        Sexual Performance – Yoga increases blood flow to the genital area, which can improve sexual desire, arousal, and performance.

        Depression or PTSD – Practicing meditation and mindfulness results in higher serotonin levels (the happy hormone) and oxytocin (the bonding hormone).  It teaches you how to cope by easing stress and shifting your awareness to other positive thoughts, sensations, and emotions yoga produces.

        Migraines – Hunching over your computer or cell phone can cause tightness in the neck and misalignment.  Correcting with yoga poses has shown a reduction in migraines or less painful ones.

        Hypertension (HTN) – Stress is the leading cause of hypertension (HTN).  Learning how to reduce this and simplify your mind produces great results.

        Fatigue – Yoga gives yourself a boost in natural energy and motivation that lasts longer than any energy drink or caffeine.  

There are probably many more benefits to yoga that can help a chronic disease not listed here.  The clarity you get from a clear mind can increase your creativity, focus, motivation, confidence and overall health.  Being able to tackle all of these with one form of exercise is what makes it so popular today.  With over 100 different types of yoga, there should be no problem in finding which one suits you.

 

 

The Cost of Depression and Anxiety In The Workplace

The Conference Board of Canada reported in 2016 that the Canadian economy lost almost $50 billion a year in productivity due to depression and anxiety. (1)  It accounts for about 30 percent of all short- and long-term disability claims, with the value of these claims ranging from $15 billion to $33 billion annually. The report goes on to say that almost a quarter of Canadians living with mental health issues are unable to work full or part-time.  It adds, if better treatments and supports were available to Canadians, the economy could see up to 352,000 of those with depression or anxiety enter the workforce as fully functional employees each year until 2035. (2) Wrap your brain around those figures!

True Absenteeism?

It has been increasingly evident that absenteeism is not the major factor when looking at a loss of productive time.  It is thought to be presenteeism, which means ‘the practice of coming to work despite illness, injury, anxiety, etc., often resulting in reduced productivity.’  

So why are depression and anxiety so much more prevalent today?  Some experts would say the increase is ‘garbage’ because of 2 possibilities.  1) It has become socially more acceptable due to the level of education and awareness available to us now and no longer taboo like it was in the past and 2) Not everyone taking an anti-depressants has a ‘true’ depression but rather a high level of stress that warrants the doctor to put them on a ‘chill pill’.  I remember a Medical Director I worked with once joked that they should just put Prozac in the water.  Regardless, it is real and it does affect the workplace.

As a society, we’ve become lazy, entitled and lost the mentality of ‘what can I do for your company’  to ‘what are you going to do for me if I work here’.  We spend less time outdoors, rely on our phones or computers for communication as opposed to actual human interaction, we overschedule ourselves and our children with extra activities, and spend less family time together.  All of these things contribute to our well-being and it trickles over into our place of work.  When you spend 8 hours+ of your day working, it’s bound to.

What Can The Employer Do?

Social norms and competitiveness in attracting top talent force businesses to respond to having such programs to keep their employees happy and healthy.  After all, if you take care of your employee, they will take care of your customer.  Offering an extension to the Employee Assistance Program such as a service like Ringside MD that offers in-house access to doctors at any time.  This gives the employee an opportunity to talk to a professional allowing for openness and candor as opposed to the HR Manager, where one might hold back.  These programs are a cost to the employer, however, when you look at how much money you save by having a healthy, productive employee, your bottom line will also be healthier.  

    1.     http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canada-economy-depression-anixety-1.3744300 

    2.    http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canada-economy-depression-anixety-1.3744300 https://www.conferenceboard.ca/e-library/abstract.aspx?did=8245 

June 2018 Newsletter

Spotlight for June

In light of Brain Injury Awareness month we are spotlighting someone who has beat her odds and surprised her doctors in how far she has come. 

Michelle Bartlett was working successfully in the insurance world and on her way to obtain her Fellow Life Management Institute (FLMI) designation when her life took a complete turn. She had a virus that attacked her heart causing damage to it. Shortly after this, she and her husband decided it was the right time to have children. In order for them to do this safely, her doctors told her she would need to have open heart surgery to repair one valve and replace another one that had been damaged from the virus. The surgery went well, however, 2 days later is when her life had completely changed. 

For reasons they were never able to explain, her heart stopped, causing anoxia, which is loss of oxygen to her brain. It took them a great amount of time to stabilize her and she slipped into a coma. Michelle remained in a coma for 10-12 days and the doctors decided it was time to send her to palliative care. Her family had lost hope and thought they would be planning her funeral until a friend of hers got a response from her as she was brushing her hair. 

She slowly came out of the coma. When she did she had to be put into a neurological unit and rehab to re-learn how to do everything. The few minutes her brain had lost oxygen caused severe damage to her brain. Michelle said ‘At age 36, I was like a baby. I couldn’t eat, talk or walk. Everything had to be re-learned.’ 

The Next Chapter

After several weeks of rehabilitation Michelle was able to return home. Intense speech, physical and occupational therapy was required.  It took well over a year for her to regain her new normalcy. Her memory, left side of her body and eye sight were affected. According to Michelle, ‘Having a traumatic brain injury requires your brain to cognitively take everything step by step. Things such as: walk to the car, press the button to unlock the door, get in car, now put the key in the ignition and so on. The automatic switch doesn’t happen anymore.’

This makes your brain work much harder than someone who hasn’t had a brain injury. It requires more time for them to do things we would normally take for granted and causes a lot of fatigue. Per Michelle, ’Think of your brain as a battery. A normal person is able to continually recharge theirs throughout the day. Someone with a brain injury has no battery recharge.’ This makes her day harder and limited in what she can do. 

Michelle has come further than any medical professional ever expected. They all thought she would be in a nursing home. She now volunteers and advocates for the Brain Injury Association of Canada, a peer support group for people recovering from a brain injury. This group was started by Cecile Proctor, who has also been affected by traumatic brain injury when her mother was involved in a car accident.

Cecile’s mother had her accident in 2008. She found that individuals with traumatic brain injuries need more mental health resources. Per Cecile ‘A lot of people fall in the middle. They don’t qualify for inpatient services but they can’t work either’. Michelle agreed indicating ‘I was left with a lot of deficits but when you look at me, you don’t see it. You only get services if there is a physical disability, not a cognitive one’. 

Awareness

Per Cecile ‘People with traumatic brain injuries still have something to give’. She has focused on bringing new outlets such as art to help them express themselves.  But more services are needed, especially in New Brunswick where Cecile and Michelle reside. 

According to Brain Injury Canada, a brain injury is the number one cause of death and disability worldwide among children, youth and individuals under the age of 44. Over 1MM Canadians suffer the effects of traumatic brain injury. (1) About 50% of all brain injuries are from falls or car accidents Nationwide. (2). If you would like to learn more about this support organization or how you can help, please contact Cecile: biacnb@icloud.com.

(1) Brain Injury Canada: https://www.braininjurycanada.ca
(2) Brain Injury Canada: https://www.braininjurycanada.ca/acquired-brain-injury/ 

 

Statistics On Traumatic Brain Injury: Including The Work Place

 

Brain injury has been reported to be one of the most dangerous injuries you can suffer. In Canada, it’s more common than spinal cord injury, breast cancer, and HIV/AIDS. The occurrence rate is higher than all of those combined. 

At least 165,000 serious brain injuries have been reported each year in Canada. That’s 452 people per day, and 1 person every 3 minutes. 

The leading cause of death or disability for Canadians under the age of 40 is a brain injury. This is especially true for those who are involved in physical sports or rigorous activities. 

The leading causes of brain injury in Canada are as follows: 

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Slip and falls
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Injuries in the workplace
  • Sports, activities, or physical altercations/assault 
  • Medical conditions 
  • Poison or toxins

By 2020, it’s estimated that traumatic brain injury is going to be one of the leading causes of death and disability 

Many people who experience serious traumatic brain injuries aren’t able to return to full- time employment. In Ontario alone, 92% of men and 100% of women suffering from a brain injury never return to full time work. 

According to the Northern Brain Injury Association, ‘The horrifying reality is that 90% of all of those injuries would never have happened to begin with, if we had simply invested money into education and prevention’.  

They state the only known cure for brain injury is prevention. Even a minor brain injury, like a mild concussion, can lead to recurring issues. This can turn into more serious issues if it doesn’t go away on its own. 

For employers, educating yourself and your employees is key. Know what can cause a brain injury, what the symptoms are and get treated immediately. 

http://nbia.ca/brain-injury-statistics/ 

http://www.bist.ca/facts-about-abi/ 

 

Health Benefits To The Approaching Summer

 

We can feel the sun on our face and it brings excitement and joy every time we realize that summer is almost here.  It is by far my favorite season.  Being able to shed winter layers for flip flops and shorts is what I look forward to every single year.  Some of the great things about summer are of the many but high on that list are the health benefits it offers.  Below we have shared some of those:

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables – Doesn’t it seem like we associate winter with heavy, comfort food?  But when summer approaches and we start to shed the extra layers, heavy meals suddenly don’t seem as appetizing but the colorful fruits and vegetables do. That is because the summer heat drives our hunger down as our bodies do not need to expend as much energy to keep us warm.  It tells our minds we only need something lighter to sustain us.  

Fruits and vegetable look so much more vibrant in the summer.  I am more apt to grab a piece of fruit as a snack now than I would in the winter based on esthetics alone.  It’s also time for the local Farmer’s Market’s to open back up with vendors presenting their organic, wholesome, fresh food.  While some are open during the winter, the summer months present more excitement and color.

More Opportunities for Exercise – There is nothing worse than sitting behind a desk and staring outside to the beautiful sun shinning, envious of those out there enjoying it.  The sluggish feeling of winter fades and we are suddenly energized making us more productive, even at work.  This also affects the way we exercise.  

People naturally want to be outside.  Summer gives us more options on how and where to exercise.   Not everyone is a gym rat.  That can seem like a daunting, monotonous task but summer opens doors to activities that people love to do.  Things like gardening, mowing the lawn, hiking/walking, riding a bike, playing a game or sport with our children/grandchildren or swimming.  And what happens when you are in the sun and exercise or work outside?  You sweat!  Sweating detoxifies your body, which is another excellent health benefit. 

More Vitamin D – Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins in our body for optimal health.  It strengthens our immune system, can play a role in cancer prevention, strengthens our bones, speeds up metabolism and improves the overall emotional health.  The easiest way to get a significant amount of Vitamin D is through the sun.  We are meant to get 80% there and only 20% through diet. 

 When exposed to the sun, our Vitamin D is replenished and stored.  

Over the years, with more awareness of the dangers of too much sun, we have been taught to block the rays out with sun screen.  People are also working more hours keeping them indoors and shielded them from the rays.  Due to this, many now suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency.  

Having a Vitamin D deficiency can cause you to have bone pain, muscle cramps, stooped posture, loss in height and weakness and tingling.  During the summer months it is easier to store up on your Vitamin D.  After coming off Melanoma Awareness Month we wouldn’t suggest you to disregard the yields to applying sun screen, but newer research has shown that exposing your body to a little bit of sunshine can actually be good for you.

Overall Feel Good Attitude – Have you ever wondered why you instantly feel good when you see the sun? That is because it boosts your level of serotonin, which is the body’s natural happy hormone. 

  Summer time offers us longer days and more opportunity for the sun to shine.  Having the extra daylight gives us more time to be outside and possibly get outdoor exercise in.  This can produce the happy endorphins more so than if you exercised indoors.  Regular sun has also been known to halt moderate depression.  There are individuals that have an illness called Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD), which is normally present during the fall and winter months.  Once summer arrives, it magically disappears.

Vacation! – Nothing rejuvenates your spirit and mental health like a vacation.  Taking a vacation, whether it’s a quick 3-4 day weekend get-away or a week off, can be beneficial to your overall well-being.  Summer presents more time for people to take time off work and spend it with their families.  Studies have shown over and over that stress can contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure.  Making the time to take a vacation not only gives you a break from the normal stressors of daily life but it can strengthen your relationships by spending quality time together.  

Summer is often a short lived season in Canada.  Make the most of it by watching less TV, putting the devices down and getting outside to explore all of the wonderful things available to us. A little bit of sunshine can go a long way!

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

 

 

May 2018 Newsletter

Newsletter, May 2018

May Spotlight – Stephen Richey, PT

Hello everyone, we are here today to talk about the value and vital role of physiotherapy in a recovery after surgery. We at Health Vantis have high regards for the service. We are here today with a wonderful and very kind physiotherapist Stephen Richey. Stephen has been helping Canadians recover, get their mobility and life back for 9 years. He currently works with CBI Health group and is able to come to your home for therapy sessions.

Stephen, Could you tell us a little bit about your profession, how long have you been practicing and why you chose physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a primary health profession that is based on the use of therapeutic exercise to help either rehabilitate individuals back to health following injury, surgery, or to prevent or slow the progression of a disease. I graduated with my Masters of Science in Physiotherapy in 2009 and have been working ever since. I chose physiotherapy because when I was young I had a love of sports and always saw the value in an active lifestyle and the role it plays in overall health. So when I saw the opportunity to work in a profession that is based in exercise and active living I knew it was a good fit!!

What are the main advantages of working with a physiotherapist (as opposed to following exercise in an instructional video or hospital discharge documents)?

There are certainly lots of free resources available online that provide exercise programs or advice. The biggest advantages to working with a physiotherapist are: the expertise in the use of therapeutic exercise (in regards to pathology) and the peace of mind. The latter is due to the fact that you know you’re working with a regulated health professional.

These days there are many “experts” that provide advice on exercise but it’s important that your exercises are chosen based on your given condition. A person may recommend an exercise that helped their low back pain to everyone that suffers from low back pain. However, the exercises that are prescribed for disk-related pain are very different than those for spinal stenosis. So what might help one person may hinder another.

A physiotherapist can help provide the expertise needed to guide patients through their individual recovery. Working with a physiotherapist also provides a level of peace of mind and security for patients as we are a regulated health profession.  It is held to strict standards by our provincial colleges that exist to protect the public from substandard or unethical treatment

What are the toughest recovery surgeries and what are your experiences in helping people to feel better sooner?

Generally, the most difficult surgeries to recover from would be the brain, heart, or spinal surgery. These are very complex and often require long periods of rehabilitation, and present a significant challenge in the rehabilitation process.

However, if we look at surgeries that are more common such as a total knee replacement or ACL repair it can be quite challenging. The knee is a joint that is heavily impacted by the structures surrounding it. There is often a period of time prior to the surgery where a person experiences significant pain and as a result becomes weaker and less mobile. Then the rehabilitation after the surgery is complicated by the fact that the muscles are already weak to begin with and that individual may be in poorer overall health.  From my experience, it’s important for patients to have realistic expectations about how they will feel after surgery. Many people may feel that once their surgery is complete they’ll be pain-free but often there’s quite some time before that is the case. Be sure to discuss with your physiotherapist or health care team about appropriate pain management strategies.

Could you give us 3-5 recovery tips in helping those that are getting ready to go through a surgery?

Having realistic expectations following surgery is important. It will help you to keep a positive attitude and not to get too down or depressed if it feels like you aren’t progressing. Each day can be different but overall it’s important to think week to week instead of day to day. Today might feel worse than yesterday but usually, today is better than last week.

Secondly, preparing for your post-surgery period of time is important. Considering things like who will look after you, can you drive, will you be able to be home alone, will you be able to use the washroom, can you make food, etc. Preparing for these things can make the rehab process go much more smoothly and reduces stress.

Lastly,  it is very important for someone that is preparing for surgery to try and get their muscles as strong as possible and to stay as active as possible to make the rehabilitation process more successful. Utilizing things like swimming or biking can be great ways to perform exercise in a non or reduced weight bearing position if that is a problem, allowing for better strength and overall health. Individuals with successful outcomes following surgery are generally those that stick to their post-surgery exercise programs.

You do house visits – how can people find you? 

 If someone had questions regarding home visits in my area they can contact me at CBI Health Bedford at 902-423-6666 or directly via email at srichey@cbi.ca

You can watch the full interview HERE.

 

Melanoma Awareness Month

May is Melanoma Awareness month. We, unfortunately, have to report that incidence rates of melanoma have increased in both males – by 2.1%, and females – by 2% over the last decade(between 1992-2013).

2017 lifetime probability of developing melanoma: 1.8%

There are estimated to be 103,100 new cases of cancer in males in 2017. Of these, 3.9% are estimated to be melanoma. In 2016, there were estimated to be 102,900 new cases of cancer in MALES, 3.6% of these being melanoma. There are estimated to be 103,200 new cases of cancer in females in 2017. Of these, 3.2% are expected to be melanoma. In 2016, there were estimated to be 99,500 new cases of cancer in FEMALES, 3.1% of these being melanoma

Although skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, it is also one of the most preventable forms of skin cancer. Each year in Canada over 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed and more than 5,000 of those are melanomas, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Melanoma causes more than 900 deaths every year. Early diagnosis is the key to positive outcome as it can be cured if it is diagnosed and removed early.

Prevention and early detection are keys to avoiding and successfully treating melanoma.  Avoiding skin damage from UV rays is the most important thing we can do. The damage that leads to adult skin cancers starts in childhood and teenage years, as people are likely to receive about 80% of their lifetime sun exposure during the first 18 years of life.

No tan is a safe tan – according to Save Your Skin Foundation and Cancer Treatment Centers of America. If you are still visiting a tanning salon we strongly advise you to stop. You are basically paying for a potential of getting a deadly illness.

Who is at risk?

According to Canadian Dermatology Association, some people are more likely to develop melanoma.

Those who have:

  • Fair, sun-sensitive skin that burns rather than tans; freckles; red or blond hair
  • Many moles — more than 50.
  • Moles which are large or unusual in color or shape.
  • A close family history of melanoma or a personal history of melanoma.
  • Had excessive exposure to UV from the sun or sunbeds.
  • A history of severe sunburns.

The risk can be multiplied if you have several of these risk factors, for example, if you have unusual moles and a family history of melanoma.

What can you do to prevent skin cancer?

  • Put on sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection. Minimum of 30 SPF is needed if you are outdoors even on a gray day.
  • Stay in the shade when outdoors, especially between 11 am and 3 pm when the sun is the brightest
  • Keep your kids out of the direct sunlight
  • If your skin is starting to redden, get out of the sun!
  • Wear protective clothing with long sleeves, hats and sunglasses
  • Wear protective clothing with long sleeves, hats and sunglasses
  • Check your body for changes in moles, new moles and see your doctor immediately if anything is suspicious
  • Do not use tanning beds

What can you do to detect suspicious skin spots?

Get to know your skin and be aware of any changes. Self-checkups for yourself and your loved ones are recommended once a month.  Below are the guidelines from Canadian Dermatology Association:

  • Using a mirror in a well-lit room, check the front of your body -face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, thighs and lower legs.
  • Turn sideways, raise your arms and look carefully at the right and left sides of your body, including the underarm area.
  • With a hand-held mirror, check your upper back, neck and scalp. Next, examine your lower back, buttocks, backs of thighs and calves.
  • Examine your forearms, palms, back of the hands, fingernails and in between each finger.
  • Finally, check your feet – the tops, soles, toenails, toes and spaces in between.

What does melanoma look like?

Melanoma can develop in weeks or months, or take years. It can appear as a new mole or freckle-like spot on the skin, or develop in an existing mole. Melanomas are usually dark in color – browns and blacks, although some show a mixture of colors, including blue, grey and red.

The most common location for melanoma in men is on the back and, in women, the leg. It can also appear on the arm, scalp or face. While less common in darker-skinned people, melanoma can appear on the soles of the feet, toenails and palms of the hands.

The ABCDE of melanoma will help you to detect this disease. Look for these features:

Asymmetry – The shape on one side is different from that on the other side

Border – The border or visible edge is irregular, ragged and imprecise

Color – There is a color variation, with brown, black, red, grey or white within the lesion

Diameter – Growth is typical of melanoma. It can measure more than 6 mm, although it can be less

Evolution – Look for a change in color, size, shape or symptom, such as itching, tenderness or bleeding

One last thing to mention: you can get melanoma in your fingernail. It is pretty rare but would show up in the form of a dark line.

 

May 13th is Mother’s Day!

Wishing all of you mothers out there a fabulous day filled with joy and happiness. It is not easy to be a mother, and we as women put our kids first and sometimes forget that we need to stay on top of our health and wellness. We are listing a general guideline to examinations and testing. Please visit your doctor to have a more detailed conversation on what your health needs may be.

The recommendations below are for healthy adults. If you have risk factors or a chronic disease, you may need different tests or you may need a test more often. Ask your doctor what schedule is right for you, but here are conditions many people should be screened for:

  • High blood pressure – start at age 18
  • Cervical cancer – PAP smear at age 25 (at age 21 in the US!)
  • Cholesterol – start at age 40. If you have risk factors start earlier
  • Diabetes – at age 40
  • Breast cancer – at age 50, although if risk factors are present start at 40
  • Colon cancer – both men and women, at age 50
  • Osteoporosis (weakened bones) – all women, at age 65
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm (enlarged blood vessel) – at 65, one-time ultrasound test

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to us at info@healthvantis.com or call toll-free 877 344 3544.