Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, affecting more than two million Americans each year. Unfortunately, the incidence of skin cancer continues to rise – it’s now estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. With the sunny summer months approaching, prevention and detection is increasingly important.
There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and melanoma. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas make up 95% of all skin cancers and are highly curable. Melanoma is the third most common type of skin cancer and unlike basal and squamous cell carcinomas; it’s extremely serious. Although melanoma cases make up only 7% of all skin cancer cases, they account for 77% of all skin cancer related deaths.
Since ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a leading cause of skin cancer, it’s extremely important to limit and prevent harmful sun exposure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend covering up with clothing, wearing a hat and sunglasses, seeking shade when possible and applying sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day.
Though many people are aware of these sun safety basics, they aren’t aware of the risks and dangers involved with indoor tanning. Although UV radiation from the sun is the number one cause of cancer, UV light from tanning beds have damaging effects as well. Studies show that individuals who begin indoor tanning as a teen have a higher risk of getting melanoma and that each visit to the tanning bed increases the risk of developing skin cancer.
If detected early, it can be treatable. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you practice monthly head-to-toe self-examinations so that you can find and treat any cancerous or pre-cancerous growths. When doing so, be sure to look for asymmetry, changes in border, color and diameter and/or evolving growths, as these are all indicators of cancer.
If you find an unusual growth or have any questions or concerns, be sure to schedule an appointment to talk with your primary care provider as soon as possible.
With stroke as a leading cause of serious long-term disability in the U.S., it’s crucial that stroke victims seek treatment and therapy early on to correct the effects as much as possible. Depending on the patient’s particular problems, his or her rehabilitation team may include rehabilitation doctors or nurses, physical therapists, speech-language therapists, recreational therapists, psychologists, social workers, orthotist, dietitian, vocational counselor and/or an occupational therapist.
Learn more about stroke rehabilitation through Occupational Therapy on MoveIt365.org.
In the United States, there are 6 million people suffering from fibromyalgia, a chronic illness that affects the tendons, ligaments and muscles in the body. People with fibromyalgia feel constant aching, stiffness and fatigue that can go on for months and even years. The chronic pain and exhaustion that accompanies the syndrome can make work and even home life difficult or impossible. Occupational therapy works to decrease these symptoms, while also altering and restructuring the patient’s lifestyle and daily tasks to meet their functional capabilities.
The first step in occupational therapy is observation and analysis. The occupational therapist spends a great deal of time getting to know the patient and their daily schedule so that they can assess and evaluate the patient’s home, work, symptoms and emotional health. Using their findings, the occupational therapist is able to help the patient learn safer and more effective ways to complete daily tasks. The therapist can also offer suggestions to modify the layout of the home and workspace so that it better accommodates the physical needs of the patient. The occupational therapist’s role in evaluating the emotional state of the patient is also important. Since fibromyalgia can bring on many challenges that can cause anxiety, stress and depression, therapy often includes psychiatric work as well. After the occupational therapy is complete, the patient and therapist work together to create a treatment plan that the patient can continue independently. This often includes assistive technology, an exercise program that is tailored to the daily needs of the patient and mental exercises and coping strategies for emotional side effects as well as counseling.
Although occupational therapy cannot rid a patient of their condition, it can help improve quality of life. After completing therapy, many sufferers of fibromyalgia are equipped with the skills and support they need to lead a more balanced, safe and independent lifestyle.
Although colon cancer (or colorectal cancer) is most common in adults over the age of 50, there are certain risk factors that may require you to begin testing at an earlier age or more frequently in order to protect from potentially cancerous polyps.
You may be at risk if:
- You formerly were diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
- You have a parent, brother, sister or child who has had an adenomatous polyp or colorectal cancer. If so, experts recommend you begin screening before age 50 or when you are 10 years younger than your relative at their age of diagnosis.
- You have had an adenomatous polyp removed from your colon in the past.
- You have an inflammatory bowel disease (i.e. ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease).
- You have had radiation treatments on your pelvis or abdomen.
As mentioned, the age at which you begin screening and the frequency with which you have testing done depends on your health, age and your risk factors. Consult your doctor if you believe you may be at risk for colon cancer.
Colon cancer often produces subtle or no symptoms and once symptoms do begin, it is often too late to cure. However, the disease is preventable if routine tests are performed. Unfortunately, the tests are known to be uncomfortable and many adults avoid the regular screenings that could save their life. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the following testing options so that you can choose which type you’ll need and the frequency with which it should be done.
Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) – A lab uses a stool sample to test for traces of blood too small to see. In order to prepare for the test, certain foods and medicines are restricted several days prior to when the sample is provided. This test should be preformed annually or as directed by a doctor.
Sigmoidoscopy – A lighted viewing scope (sigmoidoscope) is used to inspect the colon. During this procedure, the doctor can remove any small growths that may have developed as well as collect tissue samples that can be used for testing. Because of the equipment needed for the procedure, a sigmoidoscopy must be done in a hospital or doctor’s office. A laxative or enema is used as preparation for the test. A sigmoidoscopy should be preformed every five years or as directed by a doctor.
Colonoscopy – A long, flexible, lighted viewing scope (colonoscope) is used to screen for cancer, investigate symptoms and collect tissue samples. Patients are asked to prepare for their colonoscopy by taking laxatives. In order to put the patient at ease and relieve pain, they are given a medicine that causes drowsiness. The procedure is completed in 30 to 45 minutes after which a pathologist can analyze the tissue sample and come back with test results. This test should be preformed every ten years or as directed by a doctor.
Since colon cancer occurs more commonly in adults over 50 years of age, it is important to begin screening at 50 and then continue regular screening. However, some people may have an increased risk of colon cancer because of health and/or genetics, in which case a doctor may recommend earlier or more frequent screenings. Talk with your doctor to decide when to begin screening and what type of screening is best for you.