October 2019 Newsletter

 

Carson MacLeod – Private Hip Replacement

Recent Health Vantis Client

We had the pleasure of meeting and helping a wonderful gentleman named Carson MacLeod from Truro, NS a few months back.  He came to us in need of a timely hip replacement surgery.  

Up until 3 years ago, this healthy and fit 78 year old was still playing hockey and able to do all of his normal day to day things. The pain in his hip got so severe, he could no longer do them.  After a trip to the doctor, it was confirmed he needed to have a hip replacement.  Unfortunately, there was a lengthy wait to have this done.

When he realized he would not be getting his hip replacement in Canada any time soon, he decided the pain was severe enough that he could not wait.  He spent a great deal of time researching his options on having the surgery done privately in the US.  A facility in Boston proved to be challenging to get an actual quote on the cost.  His daughter came across our website site and suggested he call us.  

We had the perfect doctor in mind for him.  He was quickly given a surgery date and his trip accommodations were booked.  He traveled to the US at the end of June 2019 and had his surgery on July 1st.

The most amazing part of Carson’s story is that this hip replacement was done on an out-patient basis and he was up and walking within a couple hours after his surgery.  This would have been unheard of 5 years ago, especially for someone in their 70’s.  Most doctors are still doing joint (or hip) replacements on an in-patient procedure.  While not everyone is a candidate to have a hip replacement on an out patient basis, the benefit is that it allows for a quicker recovery time and less chance of developing an infection while in the hospital.  

Carson had a walker for 2 days, was able to have a cane by the third day and was fit to travel back home only 4 short days after his surgery.  It is remarkable how well he has continued to do since then.  He has reported that he never felt better and has not had any hip pain whatsoever since his surgery.

If you would like the same result, please give Health Vantis a call at 877-344-3544.

Watch Carson speak about his experiences here.

 

The Value of a Second Opinion

Two years ago I had a L5 S1 spinal back fusion.  After 20+ years of treatment for a herniated disc, my options on pain control were exhausted.  The cortisone injections, facet joint blocks and rhizotomies were no longer working.  The only option I had left was to have a back fusion.  This is a major back surgery and one many doctors avoid at all costs until it is absolutely necessary.  

My Spinal Orthopedic Surgeon gave me a plan on how the surgery would work. I decided to get a second opinion due to the nature of the surgery.  I took my records to a Neurosurgeon.  He reviewed them, did a physical exam and while he did agree I needed the fusion, he offered another approach to doing the surgery.

The original surgery was to include 2 incisions on my back cutting through muscle, 4 screws and an in-patient hospital stay.  My second opinion offered a procedure called an ALIF (Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion), where they went through my belly, did not need to cut through muscle, 2 vs 4 screws and could be done on an out patient basis, making the recovery time so much easier and quicker.  

I can happily report, I went with my second opinion and had an excellent result.  Could I have had the same result with the other suggested technique?  Most likely, however, I would have had 2 additional screws, which were ultimately not needed, 2 incisions and they would have cut through my muscle creating more recovery time.  This would have been on an in-patient basis thus increasing the risk of infection.  

The value of a second opinion is to give you more information so that you can make the most educated decision about your health. It is not to discount the original doctor’s opinion, but instead to consider his recommendation with others that may be available.  In my situation, this was a major surgery.  I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing and that there were no other options available to me.  But there can be numerous other reasons why someone might want to have a second opinion:

  • The doctor says there is nothing else they can do for you
  • You didn’t feel the doctor listened to your concerns
  • You are looking for an alternative treatment or other options
  • You want to confirm the diagnosis and/or treatment plan
  • Peace of mind you are doing the right thing 
  • You want to know if there is newer technology or an advanced, easier or safer method to the approach your surgery has been recommended be done.

If you would like to have a second opinion and are not sure how to go about it, please contact us and we’d be happy to help!  info@healthvantis.com, 877-344-3544

 

 

Flying South for the Winter?  Combine Your Trip with Private Surgery

Fall is here and this is the time of the year that the Snowbirds start making their plans to travel south for the winter.  If you’ve considered having a surgery done privately, this would be a great time to start planning it.  

What are the Benefits?:

  • You can recover in the comfort of your own home.  While recovery can be done in a hotel, there is nothing better than your own bed.  Plus, you save the expense of a hotel room!
  • The ability to follow up with the surgeon who did your surgery.  Most people who travel for surgery will stay on average 5-7 days and then return to Canada.  Your doctor in Canada is able to do your follow up visits and the surgeon in the US can continue to follow you via phone, email and/or Skype.  However, being local and having the ability to do your follow ups in person is more optimal.
  • There is less risk since you do not need to fly home right away.  The doctor would not release you to fly home unless he was confident you were fit to do so.  However, flying after surgery does present risk.  If you combine your surgery with an already planned trip to stay for a couple of months, that risk element is removed. 
  • You are already familiar with the area.  Traveling to another country to have surgery can be overwhelming, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area.  If you have the surgery in your winter destination, chances are you will already know your way around.
  • Avoid the delays and wait times in Canada.  Most facilities in the US can accommodate you within a couple of weeks time.
  • By coming to the US, you may have access to treatment for procedures or surgeries that are not available in Canada.  There are many things unavailable to Canadians that are available in the US.  This would be an optimal time to explore alternative options.
  • There is convenience of already being in the area so you avoid an additional trip and expense.  If you combine your south of the border winter trip with a surgery, you will save money by not making a separate trip to do so.

Contact Health Vantis to connect you to an already vetted, safe and affordable facility in the area you are traveling.  We take the guess work out of finding the appropriate surgeon for your needs.

 

September 2019 Newsletter

We welcome September as the first month of the Fall, still warm and beautiful, with crisper air and golden leaves peeking through. Things start settling into routines as we head towards cooler weather. In this issue, we bring to you some news about a promising new Alzheimer’s blood test, some information on how to get your medical records in Canada and a list of Medical travel Do’s and Don’t.

September is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. It is progressive and not reversible, causing memory problems that become severe over time. Eventually, people with Alzheimer’s can not perform their daily tasks.

Detection and Diagnosis

Diagnostic methods have improved in recent years, but there is still not a single diagnostic test to determine if someone has Alzheimer’s disease. A number of tools and tests are used to help with diagnosis. They usually include physical exam and review of medical history, a neurological exam, mental status test and brain imaging, such as CT scan or/and MRI. All other diseases should be ruled out prior to diagnosing someone with dementia.

Early Diagnosis

Getting an early accurate diagnosis is beneficial for several reasons. The person is able to participate actively in their own health-care decisions and future plans. They are able to focus on what is important to them, make informed decisions about legal, financial and care matter and ensure that their families and friends know.

Starting medications early, when they are most effective, is another benefit. While current medications can not stop the damage Alzheimer’s causes to brain cells, they may lessen or stabilize symptoms for a limited time. Also, people that are diagnosed early are able to participate in clinical trials of new medications and diagnostic tools. All current medications help mask the symptoms of the disease but do not treat the underlying causes or delay its progression. Several new medications are in development and testing. However, they need more volunteers. Trials are recruiting people with Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment, as well as healthy individuals to be controls. To find out more about participation in a clinical trial click here.

Future of early diagnosis

Two proteins are linked to Alzheimer’s disease, one is called tau and the other one is beta-amyloid. The disease is described as having tangles and plaques on brain MRI images. Tau forms tangles and beta-amyloid form plaques in the brain.

Tau proteins play a vital role in how nutrients and other important materials are transported in the brain and keep the brain cells alive. In unhealthy brain areas, tau protein collapses and twists, thus “tangles”. These tangles prevent nutrients from reaching brain cells, resulting in cell death.

Beta-amyloids molecules clump and those clumps form plaques. As plaques spread, the cells of the brain are unable to receive signals between nerve cells and cause cells to die.

Beta-amyloid spreads throughout the brain at an early stage, decades before the patient notices signs of the disease. Tau, on the other hand, starts to spread at a later stage, from the temporal lobes to other parts of the brain.

Early detection of these proteins enables earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer. Two of the recent detection research findings are worth noting.

The first one is a tau-PET scan. Researchers developed a PET scan to determine the presence of tau. When tau begins to spread the neurons start dying and patients start experiencing the first problems with the disease. A tau-PET scan detected 90-95% of all causes of Alzheimer and only gave a few false positives in patients with other diseases.

The second one just recently made the news. It is a blood test that can identify Alzheimer’s almost 20 years before symptoms appear. The blood test developed can detect the start of beta-amyloids build up in the brain. PET scans can already detect these build-ups, so researchers looked at the results of the newly developed blood test and the results of the PET scans. They saw that the results agreed 88% of the time. In an attempt to refine the results and improve the blood test accuracy the researchers then took into account other risk factors such as age and a specific genetic variant. The accuracy went up to 94%!

Also of importance is the fact that those participants flagged as false positives based on the results of their PET scans showed positive test results years later. This may suggest that some of the early blood tests were more sensitive than the brain scans in detecting the disease in the very early stages.

Blood tests are much easier and faster to perform than PET scans and if these findings are approved then Alzheimer’s will be easier to diagnose, treat early and recruit participants in clinical trials.

To learn more about these two researches we provided the links to the first one here and the second one here. To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease click here.

Medical Records and How to Obtain Them in Canada

When we start working with a prospective client, we ask them to collect and submit their medical records for a doctor’s review. This part of our process sometimes takes the longest. We came across a few cases where people were unaware how to get them, other than asking their family doctor. Asking your family doctor will probably get you as far as the visits in her office and sometimes blood work, but other important records can be at a hospital or a diagnostics facility you were treated at.

So how do you get your medical records at a hospital or a diagnostic facility? Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), a request must be made in writing. Depending on the province you reside in the request can be usually faxed or emailed to a hospital’s Health Records Department. They, in turn, have up to 30 days to provide you with an electronic or paper copy of your medical records. There is a small charge involved in this and usually depends if you wanted your diagnostic records on a CD, if you prefer printed copies, etc. The fees range between $35-$85, from our experience, although they may change in the future.

In Nova Scotia, where we are based, all the records have to be requested by either faxing or emailing in a request form.

In Alberta, you can access your medical records online. Once you create an account and digital ID, you should be able to view your records any time.

In British Columbia, you will need to reach out to your local health authority. This can also be done online. For example, for those belonging to Island Health, you can go here, or if you are under Vancouver Coastal Health the form can be found here

In Ontario, the process is very similar to that of BC. You will need to contact the Health Information custodian and submit a form via fax or email. Health Information custodians are defined as doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, labs, etc. We always advise calling the hospital or facility you were treated at and ask them what their processes and fees are, as they may have their own form to fill out.

Other provinces have similar rules and processes.

Getting medical records can take time and patience. Health Vantis can do this for you, provided the proper forms are filled out and signed by you, our client. For more info, please contact us at toll-free 1 877 344 3544 or by email info@healthvantis.com

 

Medical Travel Do’s and Don’ts

Travelling for medical reasons can be complicated. Not only someone is stressed about their surgery or treatment there are other things to consider when planning a trip to get better. Here we highlight a few do and don’t items to help you plan your medical journey successfully.

DO:

  • Do all the research you can about the doctor and the facility you are going to. Ask if you can talk to some of the doctor’s patients. Sometimes it is possible. Doing your own research will help you make a better decision on where to go for treatment. If you are short on time and are not able to do all the research, consider hiring a medical travel facilitator. A good medical travel facilitator will be able to provide you with feedback on the doctor and the facility.
  • Ask your doctor questions about your procedure. Make sure you understand the risks and possible outcomes. Knowing these things will help you keep calm before and after surgery. Stress hinders recovery and can affect surgical outcomes.
  • Find out the exact pricing and what additional items you may be charged for. This one is sometimes very tough, but most of the time once a doctor reviewed your medical records, they will be able to provide you with an accurate estimate
  • Communicate with your doctor in Canada. It is a good idea to bring up the intent to travel 4-6 weeks before you plan to go. Your medical provider needs to know about your plans because she or he will be able to give you some valuable advice beforehand as well as see you after you come back home.

DON’T

  • Make a selection of the doctor and facility based on price only. Ensure that you will be receiving treatment in a safe manner by a qualified doctor and at a certified facility with known outcomes. Many news stories covered cheap surgeries in the Dominican Republic and Mexico that ended badly. Be wise, and when in doubt, ask questions.
  • Give up on an exercise program or a healthy diet. Even if your mobility is limited, there are a number of programs that allow for gentle exercises, such as swimming (for those with back pain) or walking. Eating healthy will keep your weight in check and prevent unnecessary weight gain.
  • Expect the results overnight. Any surgery is a serious medical procedure and the recovery may be lengthy no matter if you had it at the best place and by the best surgeon possible.

June 2019 Newsletter

 

Canadian Men’s Health Week (June 10-16th)

Canadian Men’s Health week is celebrated the week leading up to Father’s Day.  This week is dedicated to raising awareness of preventable health issues.  It promotes living a healthy lifestyle by being proactive with early detection and treatment of disease in men.

New research shows that 72% of Canadian men demonstrate 2-3 unhealthy habits.  This could be in the form of a poor diet, smoking cigarettes, excessive drinking, not getting enough sleep or not exercising regularly.  An even more mind boggling statistic is that 70% of chronic health conditions are caused by lifestyle, not genetics, which means a lot of them are preventable.  

Genetics you can’t do much about, but modifying your lifestyle you can.  It can be very easy to neglect your health when you work full-time, have families, daily stressors or just lack of time.  By changing some simple habits, huge benefits can be achieved.  Something as simple as:

– Eating a healthy breakfast, or eating one at all, will help start the day off in the right direction.  

  • Playing with your children or grandchildren.
  • Taking the stairs
  • Parking further away from the building
  • Doing yard work
  • Playing a sport
  • Getting regular check ups from your doctor
  • Doing the recommended tests such as a PSA or cholesterol panel when appropriate 
  • Drinking water instead of soda
  • Eating a type of fish or seafood in place of red meat once per week

Canada’s Men’s Health Foundation has some really helpful tools. You can test where you stand health wise with a quick and easy test on their website.  It is free, 100% confidential and provides you with your areas of risk, what you need to know and what you can do to improve.  It takes about 5 minutes to complete.  To take the test, click here!  

They also provide a Maintenance Guide to tell you when certain tests are recommended based on your age.  It is broken down by your age: 20-39, 40-54 and 55+.  There are also some helpful ‘Did You Know’ stats.  To see what you should be having done each year, click here!

Infographic courtesy of Canadian Men’s Health Foundation

 

 

Canadians Leaving Canada For Medical Care (Newsletter)

Did you know that in 2017 there was a reported 217,500 Canadians that left the country for health care according to Statistics Canada?  We spent $690 million on medical care, $1.9 million per day, in other countries.  Numbers like this are baffling.  Why are the numbers of Canadians leaving for medical care increasing?

Lack of Doctors

In the Maritimes alone, there are 175,000 people waiting and without a family doctor.  In Ontario, it was reported that 1.3 million are without access to primary care.  This poses huge issues and contributes to the overcrowding in the ER’s but more importantly, is a bigger problem when it comes time for follow up and that person doesn’t have anyone to follow up with.  It puts people between a rock and a hard place.

Other scenario’s include the wait time to see a specialist or to have a diagnostic test done.  Some of the doctor’s offices we’ve contacted have a recording on their voicemail, ‘If you are in need of a referral to Dr. XYZ, there is an 18 month wait to see him.’  (One of the Neurologists’ message indicated 24 months!)   Talk about discouraging.  If you are in pain, who wants to wait that long for someone to address it?  

Operating Rooms & Diagnostic Machines Rationed

In 2018, a report was done and looked at 15 hospitals in Quebec that had the longest wait times for MRI & CT Scans.  This study found that the majority of the machines were operating far below capacity.  

In theory, these machines should be operating 16 hours a day, 7 days a week.  On average, only 6 of the machines were running approximately 8 hours a day.  Meanwhile, 7,000 people were  on the waitlist to have a scan.  

Due to budget constraints, operating rooms are not booked to full capacity either.  There may be an OR room, surgical team, and surgeon available, however, that surgeon is only allowed to do so many surgeries per week.  When you see the numbers of how many people are leaving for medical care, these reasons noted above may very well be part of the cause.

 

 

Happy Father’s Day!

Teacher to all

Fearless leader

Everyday hero

Ringmaster to the circus

Foundation of the family

New dads, old dads, step-dads, granddads, father in laws, military dads, goofball dads…there are a million fatherly types out there.  What ever category you fall under, Happy Father’s Day!

 

Health Vantis is briefly saying goodby to their newsletter for the summer, however, our business will still be open.  We will resume the newsletter September 2019.  We hope everyone has a happy, healthy and safe summer!!! Looking forward to catching up in a couple of months.

*If there are topics you’d like to see in our upcoming issues, please send us your ideas.  We love hearing from you!

Newsletter, May 2019

My Medical Travel Story- Iron Infusions in the UK

People travel to get medical treatments for different reasons. We all have our stories and I wanted to share mine with you. I have been iron deficient and anemic for the past two years. Last June I was prescribed iron infusions locally. Over the course of 5 weeks the infusions were done at a local hospital and the cost was fully covered by Nova Scotia MSI. It felt great, I got my energy back and had a fantastic summer.

At the end of September, the symptoms of changing iron levels started slowly creeping back in. Due to heavy monthly bleeding, I was becoming iron deficient again. I was taking oral iron daily and my diet included red meat and spinach. Despite that, my ferritin levels kept going down. I was still bleeding heavily – something my GYN and I have been working on for the past 6 months. Being on warfarin was aggravating the blood loss.

I thought I would bring it up at the appointment with my doctor to see what the suggestion might be. It was to exercise more. My blood work didn’t indicate any anemia or deficiency. It did, however, indicate that the ferritin levels were declining. The suggestion to exercise left me feeling frustrated. I knew that exercise was not the answer. I work out at least 3 times a week, eat healthy, and my BMI is normal.

Fast forward the crazy busy holiday season and the dead of winter. My symptoms worsened over. Fatigue was now in charge of my life. I woke up tired.  All day was I waiting to go to bed only to lay there restlessly and unable to sleep well.

The reality of fatigue is debilitating. The solution for me was seemingly easy – get an iron infusion and that would get my energy back.

However, this solution is very hard to obtain. The blood work has to show anemia. I was just a couple of points above, ferritin at 22. The level to get an iron infusion is below ferritin 15. At these depleted levels, one would get a referral to an appointment with a speciality doctor, an internist (about 3 months wait here in NS). Then you would be referred to the day clinic for an infusion (can take about 2-3 weeks).

In the month of Feb, I realized that it is only going to get worse, and until I hit that ferritin bottom no one can do anything here in Nova Scotia for me. I will not get to the province funded infusions till June-July, considering wait times. This realization left me feeling anxious and scared.

I found supporting evidence that iron deficiency fatigue can be successfully treated in those unable to benefit from oral iron with an iron infusion. In one of the health blogs, I came across a YouTube video about an iron clinic in London, UK. I immediately reached out to Dr. Toby Richards, and got an answer by email in about an hour. My blood work does show a deficiency. They can help with an infusion and are able to accommodate the appointment pretty fast.  I would only need one appointment and an infusion due to the newer IV iron solution.

Yes, there was a cost. And I would have to get to London, which is another cost. So I pondered and shared this information with my friends. Oh, if only I lived in the UK!

One of my friends works for WestJet. Upon hearing my monologue about being tired, and inability to get treatment locally she said: “I am working the London route on Sunday and will have a 48h layover there. Why don’t you come with me?” The reasons were many – my mother in-law just had surgery and was in recovery in the hospital, I had to leave my business for 3 days, I had commitments at my son’s school, and his after school activities and a dentist appointment and so on…It would be hard to leave all this and go get better. But how can I take care of people around me, if I can not take care of myself?

The decision was made. An email to Dr. Richards secured an appointment in two days. I was on my way to get better. I felt nervous. The infusion was using Monofer, not the same as I had here in Canada, Venofer. Even though Dr. Richards assured me it is a safer one, and it allows just one infusion, I was still nervous. What if something happens?

I arrived at the Iron clinic office and was greeted by three smiling women, two doctors and one nurse. They were happy to answer many questions I had about iron and iron infusions. Dr. Abeysiri spoke with passion about the role of iron in a human body and the research that she has been doing on it. The office was sunny and the atmosphere was friendly. My blood pressure was monitored throughout the process. It was uneventful and I was done in about 1 hour.

Back home and now over a month after the infusion, my energy levels are up, I sleep well, and no longer experience the extreme fatigue. The quality of my life is significantly improved. I am very thankful for my dear friend and for the amazing team of health professionals at the Iron Clinic who made this happen.

 

May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month

During May, the Canadian Brain Tumor Foundation is reaching out to all Canadians to raise awareness about brain tumors. About 55,000 Canadians are living with a brain tumor, and every day there are 27 new brain tumor diagnoses. Depending on the type of tumor treatment plans differ. Today we wanted to highlight one of the treatment options – Gamma Knife Radiosurgery.

What Is Gamma Knife?

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery actually involves no knives or cutting. It is radiosurgery that uses specialized equipment to focus about 200 small beams of radiation on a tumor. Each beam uses weak radiation that passes harmlessly through normal tissue. They meet in the tumor spot, delivering a powerful radiation dose that affects the tumor cells. The radiation is targeted using MRI imaging, CT scans, and angiography to determine the extent of the tumor. Then a computer program maps the structure, which tells the surgeon exactly where to apply the radiation.

Why Is Gamma Knife Used?

No cutting means less invasive surgery. Sometimes a tumor in the brain is too hard to reach using standard surgery or a person is not healthy enough to undergo a standard neurosurgery. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is generally less risky than traditional neurosurgery. There are fewer complications associated with anesthesia, bleeding and infection. In addition, it may have a lower risk of side effects compared with other types of radiation surgery.

The surgery is usually an outpatient procedure and does not require stay in the hospital. Most people return to their daily activities within 1-2 days.

What Conditions Are Treated with Gamma Knife Radiosurgery?

A number of conditions can be treated with this surgery, not just brain tumors.

  • Acoustic neuromas
  • Blood vessel problems i.e. arteriovenous malformations
  • Brain tumors
  • Epilepsy
  • Nerve problems i.e. trigeminal neuralgia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Pituitary tumors

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery is available at a few Canadian hospitals. If you have been diagnosed with a brain tumor, ask your doctor if you may be a good candidate for Gamma Knife treatment instead of traditional neurosurgery.

Happy Mother’s Day!

This, and any year, please remember to ensure you are current on preventative care for women. Below are some guidelines for generally healthy women. If you have a family history of any disease please ask your doctor about preventative screening based on your family history.

If you are 64 years or younger and are otherwise healthy:

  • Mammogram (age 50-74) every 2-3 years
  • Colorectal cancer screening age 50 -75 (fecal blood sample, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy) every 1-2 years
  • PAP Smear test (cervical cancer screening) every 3 years
  • Cholesterol testing every 1-5 years women over 40 years old
  • Diabetes screening
  • Bone density test

April Newsletter

 

The long and sometimes unbearable winters in Canada prompt many Canadians to head south for the winter.  Many own homes or property down south and like to spend as much time as possible shedding their winter boots in exchange for flip flops.  If they spend approximately 6 months in the US, they are often times labeled a Snowbird.  One important thing all Snowbirds need to keep in mind is how many days they intend on staying in the US?.  

Canadians become confused about how long they can stay in the US.  It is often thought that you can stay 6 months or 180 days.   Per Gerry Scott, a Portfolio Manager and Branch Manager with Raymond James Ltd., this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Gerry has spent over 23 years in the wealth management industry.  During that time, he has met thousands of Canadians that either spend 6 months in the US, otherwise known as Snowbirds, or living in the US full-time.  In his experience, most Snowbirds tend to avoid or not have a clear understanding of the US immigration and IRS tax rules that have changed in recent years.  

What Canadian snowbirds don’t realize is that they can be classified as a US resident and subject to IRS taxes if they stay too long.  This is not tracked on an annual basis, but over a 3 year period and thus can be very confusing.  

Gerry also noticed that questions about estate taxes, home ownership, travel insurance or private health care often came up in his conversations..  That is when he decided to create an app that could point his customers in the right direction to answer their questions.

The first version came out in the fall of 2015 and is called ‘Canadian Snowbirds US Stay Counter’.  The app provided connection to US Real Estate, Tax & Legal Services, Medical Tourism and more.  The thought was to have his current Snowbird customer base try it out and assist them with their US stay and answer other questions they might have.  The app quickly became popular bringing in close to 50,000 subscribers.  

Fast forward to present day….Gerry has developed a new and improved app re-named ‘Snowbirds US Day Tracker’ with even more to offer people who frequent the US.  The app came out last month and will have all of the useful information the previous app did and more.  There will also be a website where you can get up to date information on the app. 

One other helpful tool it provides is getting the most out of your CAD currency exchange.  Some banks will charge you fees as high as 3.1% on your conversion.  Gerry has long term relationships with a Foreign National service that can offer the the best CAD to USD exchange rate for as little as 0.25% in banking fees by utilizing the app.  That is a lot of money saved in the long run, especially if you are exchanging large sums.  

Be sure to download this free app in Google Play and the App Store. 

For more information or financial assistance, Gerry can be reached at 604-936-7529 or gerry.scott@snowbirdsapp.ca.  

If you are a Snowbird and are on a medical  wait list in Canada, we can also assist with arranging your procedure, diagnostic test or surgery in a private manner while you are in the US.  Contact Health Vantis for more details on this at info@healthvantis.com or 877-344-3544.

 

 

Water is the most important nutrient human body needs?, water is the most important nutrient our bodies need.   Approximately 60% of our body is made up of water, however,  we constantly lose it through sweat, urine and even breathing.  Humans can go weeks without food but can only survive 3-5 days without water.  Experts say you should have 8-8oz glasses of water a day to appropriately replenish what your body loses.

Many people don’t like to drink water or get bored of it because there is essentially no taste.  One way to change that is to flavor your water with fresh fruit.  Not only does it provide more benefits, the concoctions are endless so you never get bored!

Listed below are some items you can infuse your water with and the benefits you get from them:

Lemons – Support normal digestion, kidney and liver function and they are high in Vitamin C.  It is also a natural fat burner.

Citrus (ie. grapefruit or oranges) – Antioxidants and Vitamin C. It helps rid of toxins and waste from your cells.  Oranges have also been proven to reduce the risk of stroke.

Blueberries & Raspberries – Antioxidants and fiber which can help curb appetite.

Cucumbers – Several vitamins, components that fight inflammation, protect brain health and even freshen breath. *Tip – Keep the skins on as that is where most of the vitamins come from!

Mangos – Can boost metabolism, aid in digestion and increase memory and libido.

Cranberry Juice (no sugar added and in small amounts) – It is loaded with antioxidants that help flush toxins from your kidneys and intestines.

Apples – May reduce the risk of developing hypertension, diabetes and heart disease and provide iron to your diet.

Kiwi – Contains a cleansing enzyme called actinidin which can give your skin a healthy, natural glow.

Pears – They absorb glucose, which can give you more energy.

Including fresh herbs such as mint, thyme or lavender can also give a very nice finishing touch to your creation!

*Tip – Most fruit is not as tasty after being in water for hours.  Instead of tossing it, include it into a smoothie along with some fresh fruit and voila’!

 

 

World Health Day is celebrated on April 7th.   Each year the celebration highlights a specific theme that is a priority or area of concern for the World Health Organization (WHO).  This year’s (2019) focus is on Universal Health Care (UHC).  It is about the world coming together to ensure all people and communities have access to quality health care when they need it, without suffering financial hardship.  The collaboration to improve UHC is to include a full spectrum from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.

The goal the campaign is to achieve a better understanding of what Universal Health Care means in terms of 

services and support that should be available.  The campaign also gives an opportunity for Ministers of Health and other governmental decisions makers a chance to showcase what progress they have made in the past years as well as address the gaps they have in their respective countries.  This would encompass all areas of Universal healthcare?  quality, efficiency, equity, accountability, sustainability and resilience.  

Take the time to talk to your Ministry of Health or elected officials this year about your concerns in the gaps the Canadian healthcare system presents.  Hearing from the people is where discussions start and change can happen.

March Newsletter

March 8th – International Women’s Day

The month of March brings us long-awaited spring, with warmer and longer days and a friendly reminder that summer is not too far away. It is also a month that celebrates International Women’s Day. The theme for this year is #BalanceForBetter and is urging everyone to strive for a gender-balanced world. It is a cause for all to share, not just women.

The holiday initially was created in 1911 by women to promote equal rights including suffrage. In a bit over 100 years, the progress we made as a society when it comes to gender equality is significant. In Canada, Manitoba was the 1st province to grant women the right to vote on January 28, 1916. Two years later, in 1918, Canadian Women gained the right to vote at the federal level.

In medicine, women had also struggled for gender equality. Medical professions were reserved to men.  In 1868 Emily Howard Stowe became the first Canadian woman to practice medicine in Canada. She had to go to medical school in the United States (New York Medical College for Women) because Canadian institutions did not allow women to study medicine.

In 1870, Toronto School of Medicine allowed Ms. Stowe and another woman, Jenny Kidd Trout, to attend medical school classes. Ms. Trout chose to write the medical exam and passed, thus becoming the first licensed female physician in Canada.

It seems that these women-firsts accomplishments happened quite some time ago. Nevertheless, in Canada, women physicians accounted for only 7% in 1970-ies! Better improvements are seen recently. As of 2017, according to Canadian Institute for Health Information, female doctors make up 41% of all doctors (physicians and specialists). Family medicine has 46% females, while specialists have a lower 39% and surgical specialists have even a lower rate of 29%.

Many reasons exist why women choose family medicine. This study cites that women interested in surgery still face discrimination within medical school, in training programmes and in consultancy positions. It lists many factors that impact a junior doctor’s choice of specialty, including an attraction to the work itself, the perceived lifestyle of doctors in that specialty, and the existence of a mentor or role model in that field. In surgery, many of these issues have been identified as pushing women away from engaging in surgical training. These include a lack of female surgeon role models, and perceptions that surgical lifestyle is not compatible with the disproportionate burden that women bear of care-giving responsibilities.

Looking deeper into opportunities to create gender balance among surgical and specialist medical professions is needed. Mentorship and accessibility of medical training programs is necessary to remove barriers, internal and external, to gender equality. It is 2019, Happy International Women’s day everyone!

 

 

March 10-16 – World Glaucoma Week

March 10-16 is World Glaucoma week. The purpose of it is to bring greater awareness to the disease. In Canada, and in the world, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness.  It is estimated that 294,600 people in Canada are blind due to glaucoma.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases which lead to progressive degeneration of the optic nerve. This in turn can lead to loss of nerve tissue that results in gradual irreversible vision loss and potential blindness if not detected and treated early. More than 250,000 Canadians have chronic open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease.

It is not known how damage to optic nerve occurs. However, there is an association between damage to the optic nerve and pressure within the eye due to build up of excess fluid. As disease slowly develops, patients with glaucoma may experience a gradual loss and narrowing of peripheral vision. This is called tunnel vision.

Since glaucoma develops slowly, many people will go years before noticing any symptoms. Often, they don’t know they have glaucoma until they lose some of their eyesight. That is why the diseases is also called the silent sight thief. Loss of vision from glaucoma is not reversible.

Who Is at Risk?

Glaucoma can occur in people of every race, gender, and nationality. Anyone can develop glaucoma, but some people are at greater risk. If you meet one or more of the following criteria, you have an increased risk:

  • Over the age of 40
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Abnormally high eye pressure
  • African, Asian, or Hispanic ancestry
  • Diabetic
  • Nearsighted
  • Regular, long-term use of steroids/cortisone
  • Previous eye injury

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

Get regular eye check-ups. Eye doctors can detect and treat glaucoma before most patients experience any symptoms. There is no cure for glaucoma but there are medications that can help slow its progress, so early detection and treatment of glaucoma are important

Early detection, through regular and complete eye exams, is the key to protecting your vision from damage caused by glaucoma. A complete eye exam includes five common tests to detect glaucoma.

It is important to have your eyes examined regularly. Your eyes should be tested:

  • before age 40, every two to four years
  • from age 40 to age 54, every one to three years
  • from age 55 to 64, every one to two years
  • after age 65, every six to 12 months
  • Anyone with high risk factors should be tested every year or two after age 35.

 

 

 

March is Nutrition Month

Eat healthy to stay healthy – we have seen and heard this in many places and from many authorities. No one would argue that eating healthy food is bad for you. However, what food is healthy and how do we know? The answer to these questions can be inconsistent and change over time. This makes it hard to make good choices when it comes to food.

At the end of 2018, the government of Canada released an updated food guide. According to it, ½ of your plate should be fruit and veggies, ¼ protein and ¼ whole grains.   Juice is out, and water is in! Milk is only advised if it is a lower fat kind and with no added sugar. The majority of low-fat milk sold in Canadian grocery stores, however, has sugar, make sure you read the labels! The guide lists multiple vegetable sources of protein and advises to chose lean meats such as skinless poultry and lean cut of meats. Although many of us knew this, such move by the government declared its position – to encourage Canadians to eat healthy and to provide them with sensible food guidance backed by science.

***This picture is taken from the website for Canada’s new food guide

One of my favourite recommendation in this guide is a suggestion to eat meals with others. I love it because it creates a wonderful atmosphere of enjoying a meal while connecting to others. Many families make it a point to have at least one meal together a day. Although it may not happen every day, it is still such a great goal to have. Trying to expand this tradition, meals are great when shared by others – co-workers, neighbours, friends, people you play sports with or volunteer. It is also an opportunity to try food you have never tried before.

More information about the new Canadian food guide can be found here.

 

February Newsletter

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

My 10 year old son has a good friend and hockey mate that was diagnosed with B Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma in October 2017.  His treatment is approximately a 2.5 year program and his family recently celebrated 365 days left of dealing with this horrible disease.  If all goes well, this means: 2,892 more chemo pills, 12 more infusions in his port, and 4 more spinal taps left for him. This doesn’t include all of the other things that will need to be treated such as a broken bone due to the weak bones from all of these drugs (he’s had 2), pneumonia due to a suppressed immune system or other viruses his body can’t fight off.

The bravery and wisdom I’ve seen from this little being who’s only been here for 10 short years surpasses most adults I know.  One of the things I have learned from them is that:

  • 1 in 3 children who survive 5 years past diagnosis will die at a young age due to side effects from the drugs they had to take that put them into remission.
  • By the time they turn 45, more than 95% of childhood cancer survivors will have a chronic health problem and 80% will have severe or life-threatening conditions.
  • 1 out of 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer before the age 19.
  • There has only ever been 4 FDA approved drugs specifically developed to treat children’s cancers.  All other drugs were developed for adults.
  • Only three new drugs have been developed for the treatment of childhood cancers in the past 45 years.
  • If they are fortunate enough to beat cancer, they will most likely have watched a friend they made along the way not be as lucky. 

What Can You Do To Help?

  • Donate blood or plasma.  Chemotherapy and radiation can damage the cells in the bone marrow that manufacture platelets and blood so it is almost a given they will need a transfusion at one point or another.  Blood banks rely on the goodness of others to donate for reasons such as this.
  • Support organizations or events like St. Baldrick’s, Alex’s Lemonade Stand or Coins4CURE
  • Start a fundraiser such as a 5k run or Jump-A-Thon to raise money and awareness
  • Volunteer at a Children’s Hospital or Treatment Center.
  • Instead of your child receiving birthday gifts, have the party guests bring an item to be donated to the cancer unit at your local hospital.

Resources For Those Who Have Childhood Cancer

What Do Patients Want?

What exactly do patients want?  While the list might be long, here are a few of the top things that come to mind:

Communication – Patients go to a doctor for a problem and hopefully a solution.  Sometimes, we don’t know or understand what our body is doing and have a multitude of symptoms.  We want our doctor to listen attentively to us so our needs are heard and understood.  We rely on our doctors to have strong communication skills.  Conveying medical information to a non-medical person can be challenging.  To have it explained in a manner you can understand with clear and accurate instructions creates an easier and comfortable relationship.

Compassion – Although there are a handful of doctors who don’t have the strongest ‘bed side manner’, the majority of them do.  They go into their profession to help others and we expect compassion and understanding when we see them.  Patients want to be treated as a person and not a disease or number.  The doctors ability to express empathy gives the patient the security in knowing their best interests are being served.  

Trust – In any situation, trust is normally earned and the same would apply to your relationship with a doctor.  Patients are more likely to follow through with a doctors recommendations when they feel a connection to the doctor, which can be assumed as trust in them.  At times we need to request respect for our own thoughts and judgements.  A doctor that will allow this and take that into consideration can create a bond of trust between both parties.  We also want trust in knowing that our information will be kept private and protected, adhering to privacy rights. 

Transparency – Knowledge is power.  We’ve heard this statement over and over again.  Being given the good, the bad and the ugly with open transparency for our situation can provide us with information to make an informed decision.  Doctors do have limits and guidelines they must work within just like any profession and they are not miracle workers.  Just because we want a certain result doesn’t mean they can produce it but if we have all of the facts, we can be assured the doctor is providing the right course of action.  

Quick access – Patients want to be able to see their doctor in a reasonable amount of time. With the shortage of doctors in Canada, this can sometimes be challenging.  Referrals to specialists can be months long and even getting an appointment with a GP for an acute illness may not happen right away.  We want our pain to be short lived and to feel better as soon as possible.  Waiting for appointments, diagnosis tests such as a MRI and surgery need to be done in a timely manner.  Convenience is almost demanded in today’s world as well.  Virtual visits (ie. telemedicine) and in house employee access to a medical program are options that are becoming more popular to accommodate this.

Their Time – Time is a valuable commodity.  When we see a doctor, we want our appointment time honored and their full attention. We want all of our questions answered and to not be rushed or treated like a number.  Doctors sometimes have to dedicate more focus than expected to another patient or be pulled away for an emergency.  This can cause a delay in keeping to your scheduled appointment.  Most doctors can appreciate the value of your time and are not creating delays on purpose.  Keeping this in mind and knowing you could be that person needing additional time on another given day will help long delays seem more bearable.

 

 

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.