Cervical cancer is disease that affects many women in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, about 12,900 new cases were diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer in 2015 and about 4,100 women died from this disease in the same year.
The good news is that cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treated cancers if caught early. This is why it is vital for you to be aware of the signs and symptoms, understand the risks, and be proactive about receiving regular screenings.
What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is a cancer that typically forms in the cervix, specifically where the uterus joins with the vagina. This area is called the transformation zone.
While not the only cause, certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) play a significant part in the development of cervical cancer. HPV is a sexually-transmitted infection that often shows no symptoms, but may remain in your body for extended periods of time.
There are two primary forms of cervical cancer:
- Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the thin and flat squamous cells lining the exocervix (outer part of the cervix). This is the most common type of cervical cancer.
- Adenocarcinoma starts in the lining of the cervical canal. This lining is made up of column-shaped glandular cells.
What are the symptoms?
The tricky thing about cervical cancer is that in the early stages, when it’s most treatable, you may see no symptoms. Once the cancer has progressed, you may experience pain and bleeding during and after intercourse, vaginal bleeding between periods and after menopause, and foul-smelling, watery, and bloody vaginal discharge.
If you experience any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor immediately.
Be aware of the risk factors
Any action that increases your risk of contracting HPV will increase your chances of developing cervical cancer. These include: having many sexual partners, early sexual activity, and contracting other STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS.
Other risk factors include smoking, being overweight, and having a family history of cervical cancer.
How to reduce the risks?
The first and easiest way for a woman to protect herself against cervical cancer is to be vaccinated against HPV. The vaccine is most effective when given before a woman becomes sexually active.
The second way to protect yourself is to receive regular cervical cancer screenings. The typical screening for cervical cancer involves a Pap test, in which a doctor brushes and scrapes cells from the lining of your cervix. These cells are then examined in a lab for abnormalities that would suggest cervical cancer or the presence of pre-cancerous cells.
The screening may also include or be followed by an HPV DNA test which looks for the strains of HPV linked to cervical cancer.
How is cervical cancer treated?
Depending on your health, symptoms, and the stage at which the cancer was diagnosed, you may be treated with a surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or all three. Your doctor will discuss your options and will design a treatment plan specifically for you.
Knowledge is power. If you know how to keep yourself healthy and how to properly care for yourself during and after an injury or illness, you can lower your medical costs.
Southeastern Med offers a variety of resources to help manage a variety of conditions from seasonal colds to diabetes and heart disease. We’re happy to provide you or your caregiver with any of the following resources and consult with you on the best practices to stay well and out of the hospital.
- Educational handouts
- Medical articles
- Emerging study literature
- And more.
If you’ve been admitted to the hospital, had an outpatient procedure, or been seen in the Emergency Department, you’ll receive a complete list of after-care instructions from your attending physician before you leave. These instructions may include details on limiting your activity, observing a special diet, and complying with prescribed medications or therapies.
Your Southeastern Med physician will likely advise you to follow up with your primary care doctor to monitor your condition until you’re back to 100%.
Our entire team is here to help you regain your health, so if you have any questions at all, about recommended therapies, medications or physical activity, please don’t hesitate to ask. If we can’t provide you an answer right away, we’ll consult with our care teams and get back to you as soon as possible.
It’s normal to forget little things, like where you left your keys or an appointment you scheduled weeks ago. But if your loved one’s memory lapses start to impact his or her daily living, he or she could be developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Common signs of Alzheimer ’s disease include:
- Challenges in planning or solving problems, including balancing a checkbook and paying bills.
- Difficulty with common tasks, such as driving to a familiar location or washing the laundry.
- Confusing the time or place, like forgetting the year or how he or she arrived at a destination.
- Trouble following conversations, including finding the right words for common items.
- Misplacing things in unusual places and not being able to retrace his or her steps.
- Withdrawing from favored activities, such as hobbies or social engagements.
- Changing personality, including becoming moody, depressed or erratic.
If someone in your life is experiencing these symptoms, even occasionally, start tracking the instances so you can discuss them with your family doctor. Keep a log of what concerns you, including the date, time of day, and the circumstances. This journal will give the doctor more information than he or she would be able to get from your loved one in a normal office visit and help determine if the condition is ongoing or worsening.
Consult your Area Agency on Aging or your family doctor to discuss how to approach a conversation about Alzheimer’s disease with your loved one and the best way to proceed with diagnosis and treatment.
Nothing ruins the holidays faster than a cold or the flu. These tips will help you stay healthy all season long.
- Stay hydrated. When your body is well-hydrated, all your systems work more efficiently. Drinking water is the easy part, but you may also want to increase the humidity in your environment to keep your mucous membranes moist, which helps prevent illness. Add lemon to your drinking water to give yourself and anti-bacterial and anti-viral boost.
- Relax. A stressed-out mind leads to a stressed-out body and a compromised immune system. Share responsibilities of holiday planning, control your stress at work, and make time to enjoy your free time.
3. Choose healthy foods. This time of year, you’re almost guaranteed to over-indulge if you don’t make conscious healthy food choices. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain a variety of vitamins and antioxidants that can help boost your immune system. Eat your veggies first during your meals, and choose fruit for dessert or a healthy snack.
4. Sleep. There’s a reason people sleep a lot when they’re not feeling well – the body needs rest to recover. The body also needs rest to fight off illness. Try for at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
5. Wash up. Wash your hands regularly, especially after eating or touching your face to prevent the spread of germs. Keep a hand sanitizer handy for those times when it’s not possible to wash up.
6. Get a flu shot. The flu shot is the most effective defense against the flu. Not only will you protect yourself, you’ll also protect the babies and seniors in your life.
7. Exercise. Regular physical activity can help prevent illness by increasing the production of special white blood cells that attack viruses and bacteria. Aim for about 45 minutes of moderate activity, such as walking, jogging or weight lifting, 5-6 days a week.
With 2016 approaching many people begin to think about the traditional “New Year’s Resolutions”. Unfortunately the majority of these fail before the end of the month! Here are some suggestions to improve your chances of making your resolutions stick.
1. Set a Realistic Goal
The surest way to fall short of your goal is to make your goal unattainable. For instance, losing 20 pounds in January or starting to exercise 7 days a week are not realistic goals. Make the goal objective, something you can measure. This is something you can achieve in a period of time. For example, maybe you will start walking 3 mornings per week for at least 20 minutes. Goals should be behavior oriented, such as committing to eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables and drinking 8 glasses of water daily.
2. Plan how will you stick with it.
Decide how you will deal with the temptation to skip your walk when the weather is bad. Have a back-up plan to walk indoors or on a treadmill. Locally you may walk indoors at the Armory, City of Cambridge Parks and Recreation. The YMCA offers memberships that include indoor exercise.
3. Talk about It
Don’t keep your resolution a secret. Tell friends and family members who will be there to support your resolve to change yourself for the better or improve your health. The best-case scenario is to find a buddy who shares your New Year’s resolution and motivate each other.
4. Reward Yourself
Keep track on the calendar each time you take a walk. After you do “x” number of walks reward yourself with a new piece of fitness clothes or put away a quarter for each mile to put toward purchase of something you would enjoy.
5. Keep Track Your Progress
Keep track of each small success. Short-term goals are easier to keep, and each small accomplishment will help keep you motivated. Instead of focusing on losing 20 pounds, focus on losing the first five. Keep a food journal to help you stay on track, and reward yourself for each five pounds lost.
6. Don’t talk negative to yourself
Obsessing over the occasional slip won’t help you achieve your goal. Do the best you can each day, and take one day at a time.
7. Stick to It
Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and six months for it to become part of your personality. It won’t happen overnight, so be persistent and patient!
Southeastern Med is here to help you reach your positive lifestyle goals and the Group Lifestyle Balance (GLB) Program ™ is one of the comprehensive programs made available to you. GLB provides education to help you reach a healthy balance through diet and exercise. It is designed for non-diabetic, overweight individuals age 18 and older with risk factors for type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The program includes 22 sessions, weight monitoring, healthy eating and fitness tips, and support to stay motivated.
The goal of GLB is to help you reduce your body weight by 7% and encourage you to exercise 150 minutes per week. In order to be a part of this exciting program, you must meet at least one of the following requirements: high blood pressure, pre-diabetes or history of gestational diabetes, high cholesterol or triglycerides, or overweight (body mass index at or above 25). In order to keep off excess weight in the long term, it is important that you make manageable changes that you will be able to continue for the rest of your life. When you lose weight quickly, you may gain it back overtime and potentially gain more than you originally lost. Southeastern Med’s staff will work with you to make gradual changes that will last a lifetime.
The Group Lifestyle Balance ™ program costs $40 and you are provided with items such as: pre, mid-point and post lab work; education; class binder and materials; pedometer; exerband; and Calorie King Fat and Carbohydrate Counter.
The next GLB session starts on Wednesday, January 20th, from 4-5 pm at Southeastern Med’s Community HealthLink. Registration begins on January 4th.
For more information about this program or to register for the upcoming GLB session, please call Southeastern Med’s Wellness Department at 740-435-2946.
As women cope with their diagnosis of cancer, it is important for them to know that there are free services available in our community to help boost their self-confidence. A free “Look Good Feel Better” session will be held on Monday, December 14th from noon to 2 p.m. in the Addison Room at Southeastern Med.
“Look Good Feel Better” is a free program that teaches beauty techniques to female cancer patients in active treatment to help them combat the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment. The American Cancer Society is the primary sponsor of the “Look Good Feel Better” program. In these sessions, Jaci Paynter, a trained, volunteer cosmetologist, teaches women how to cope with skin changes and hair loss using cosmetics and skin care products donated by the cosmetic industry.
The free cosmetic kits provided at these group sessions are available in four different shades to enhance all complexion types. Makeup application covers everything from cleansing to powder. In addition to makeup and nail tips, participants will also learn how to use wigs, scarves, and other accessories to disguise hair loss. “I love being a part of this program and helping women feel better about their appearance,” Paynter explained. “It’s amazing to see how someone’s demeanor can totally change when they gain confidence.”
If you are interested in boosting your self-confidence in a supportive group environment, reservations are required. With upcoming parties and events this holiday season, “Look Good Feel Better” may be just the pick me up your spirit needs. Please call Sharon Gay, RN-C, Southeastern Med’s breast health navigator, at 740-439-8117 to register to attend “Look Good Feel Better”.
Fighting cancer is a journey that must be taken one step at a time. Cancer patients may feel so overwhelmed that they don’t know where to turn. It is important for these individuals to know they are not fighting this battle alone.
As a part of Southeastern Med’s Commission on Cancer Approved Cancer Services, Southeastern Med houses an American Cancer Society Cancer Resource Center that is free to visit and use. The Cancer Resource Center can be a great help to cancer patients, their families, and their caregivers.
The Cancer Resource Center provides current cancer information and resources, cancer education material, information on local support groups and community resources, and health information. At the Cancer Resource Center, individuals will find trained staff available to answer questions, books, and brochures with up-to-date information provided by the American Cancer Society.
The breast health navigator is also available to provide assistance. Sharon Gay, RNC, Southeastern Med’s breast health navigator, can help with social and emotional issues encountered by cancer patients and their families along the cancer journey. Sharon also helps women facing breast cancer find a wig or hat to wear during hair loss and re-growth. Sharon holds an essential role as contact person for referring physicians, patients, and caregivers. As the breast health navigator, she also provides various resources and helps evaluate clinical and supportive care services offered within Southeastern Med and in the community.
Sharon is a graduate of Ohio University Zanesville and has always found a passion for nursing. In addition to her role as breast health navigator, Sharon also serves as a nurse at Southeastern Med’s Cambridge Regional Cancer Center. Sharon has a true heart for people and their best interests, radiating that concern in the care she provides. “Our community is very blessed to have Sharon as our breast health navigator. Sharon ensures our patients understand what is happening and provides the one on one support needed,” noted Bonnie Burns, MBA-HC, BBA manager of Southeastern Med’s Cancer Registry.
Sharon can help by providing breast cancer patients with literature on coping with cancer, what to expect during chemotherapy and radiation, and dealing with side effects of treatment; by referring a person to support groups, classes, and other programs for information and support; by listening, caring, and helping you in your time of need; by identifying activities that can help ensure a better quality of life; and by helping cancer survivors learn to self-navigate.
“Sharon has been so good about checking up on me through my treatments and helping me find a wig that looks like my natural hair,” explained Barb Stephens, of Barnesville, breast cancer survivor. “Sharon has the perfect personality for her job! You can’t help but love her! She’s been a real help to me.”
It is important to know that as a breast health navigator, Sharon does not provide medical advice, does not limit your options to seek other sources of cancer information or support, does not offer opinions regarding medical treatment or choice of healthcare provider, and does not replace or interfere with the physician/patient relationship.
On Wednesday, October 28th, from 4pm -7pm at the Community Healthlink, Southeastern Med’s Power Me Pink program will be offering free breast cancer screenings and mammograms. Specifically, this screening is geared toward those over the age of 40 with limited resources who are underinsured or uninsured.
Dr. Michael Sarap and Dr. Joseph O’Hanlon, surgeons from Southeastern Ohio Physicians, will be conducting the breast screenings. Melissa Corbett, RT (R) (M), mammography technologist at Southeastern Med, will be conducting any necessary mammograms. Also, Southeastern Med’s resource counselors will also be available to confidentially discuss healthcare insurance, including Medicaid and Healthcare Marketplace. “We are so happy to be able to offer this service (free mammograms) to patients!” stated Melissa Corbett. “The American Cancer Society continues to recommend a clinical breast exam every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over. You should always be proactive when it comes to your health and cancer prevention. You should continue to have regular checkups, even if you feel fine. ”
This free service for our community is funded through a grant from the Columbus Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Armed Forces of America Motor Cycle Club. Registration is required in order to attend the upcoming screening. To see if you qualify and to register, please call Southeastern Med’s Mammogram Hotline at 740-435-2500.
Remember, early detection can save your life!
Did you know that there’s a screening test for lung cancer?
You may be familiar with a chest X-ray or a sputum cytology (mucous test), but they can be inconclusive when it comes to detecting or diagnosing lung cancer. A low-dose spiral computed tomography (CT) scan takes a full 360-degree image of the lungs to detect the presence of cancer cells and tumors.
The National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health reported a 20% reduction in deaths from lung cancer among current or formers heavy smokers who received low-dose CT scans versus those screened by a chest X-ray.
Low-dose CT is the only screening test for lung cancer recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends an annual low-dose CT lung cancer screening for people between the ages of 55 and 80 and have a history of heavy smoking, whether you’re a current smoker or you’ve quit within the last 15 years. A heavy smoking habit is identified as a 30-pack year, which means you’ve smoked a pack a day for the last 30 years, or you’ve smoked two packs a day for 15 years.
The test, which costs $95, is quick and easy, and your results will be interpreted by board-certified radiologist, Scott Harron, at the time of your screening and reviewed with you by Dr. Eyad Mahayri, M.D., F.C.C.P. Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine Specialist. To make an appointment for a lung cancer screening, call 740-439-8930.
About Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is the third most common form of cancer in both men and women, and it is the leading cause of cancer death nationwide. The NIH estimates that more than 221,000 new cases will be diagnosed and more than 158,000 will die from the disease in 2015.
Smoking is, hands-down, the biggest risk factor for developing lung cancer. The CDC says that people who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers.
Other risk factors include:
- Second-hand smoke inhalation
- Family history of lung cancer
- Exposure to asbestos or radon gas
The Centers for Disease Control maintain that one of the most important defenses against childhood illnesses is vaccinations. With school starting soon, now is the time to make sure your children are all caught up on their immunizations.
In Ohio, schools require several immunizations for children entering school from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Note that the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine is now required. Students entering Kindergarten through fifth grade will need two doses of the chicken pox vaccine on or after their first birthday, at least 28 days apart. Students entering grades six through nine are required to have at least one dose of the chicken pox administered on or after their first birthday.
This vaccine tracker, published by Parents magazine, details the immunizations recommended by the CDC for all healthy children. If you have questions about immunizations or are unsure if your child’s shot record is up-to-date, contact your child’s pediatrician.
You know you need to take better care of your heart, but how can you get started?
It's simple really. Just make one healthy lifestyle choice at a time.
Create time in your day for exercise. Aim for a 50/50 mix of cardiovascular exercise and strength training throughout the week.
Cardiovascular exercise is anything that puts your heart rate in the right target zone for your age. Aim for 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous cardio activity three to four times a week. You don't have to do it all at once, either. If you can only manage 10 minutes at a time, make time for a brisk walk several times throughout the day.
Examples of cardiovascular exercises include:
- Brisk walking
Strength training exercises help build muscle.
- Weight lifting
- Resistance band training
- Body weight training
A heart healthy diet includes lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and whole grains. You can still have the occasional sweet treat, but limit your refined carbohydrate and sugar intake.
You have to read your food packaging carefully, too. You'll be surprised how many added sugars and fats are lurking in processed foods. When in doubt, choose whole foods over pre-packaged goods.
Check out these heart healthy nutrition resources for more information, or consult with the nutritionists in our wellness center about building a customized meal plan to help you reach your heart health goals.
Control Your Vices
The adverse effects of tobacco use and alcohol consumption on your heart health are well-documented.
If you use tobacco and want to quit, we have a several cessation programs that can help you kick the habit for good.
Enjoying an adult beverage now and again is ok, but if you're consuming more than one to two drinks a day, your heart could be suffering. Excess alcohol consumptions can lead to high blood pressure and a host of other health problems.
Get a Cardiac Health Assessment
What you don't know about your heart health could kill you. Talk with your physician about a cardiac health exam to determine your blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels. If your numbers are within a normal range, positive lifestyle choices will only make them better. And if your numbers are high, these lifestyle changes can help get them under control.
The American Heart Association recommends regular cardiovascular screening beginning at age 20. Your doctor will determine how often these tests should be repeated based on the results of your initial exams.
Conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol can be genetic, so if you have a family history of these conditions, you may require pharmaceutical intervention in addition to healthy lifestyle choices. Your doctor may make recommendations for blood pressure or cholesterol medication for short-term therapy or long-term heart health maintenance.