Spreading Awareness for Ovarian Cancer

ovarian cancer awareness

Many cancers have strong recognition around them in the form of events, awareness months, and lots of financial donors. You definitely know that breast cancer awareness month is in October, when donations pour in and social media hashtags #BreastCancerAwareness go wild and the color pink dominates your social network pages. And that’s amazing!! There should be that level of awareness for all cancers. There’s another female-only cancer that gets a little less attention – ovarian cancer.

So, we decided to talk a little about ovarian cancer in this article so you can share it with your family and friends, helping them be more in-the-know.

Ovarian cancer can be difficult to identify and diagnose. There are several tests to detect the cancer, like pelvic exams, ultrasounds or CT scans, and blood tests to detect proteins found in ovarian cancer cells. Typically, surgery is the only way to confirm the extent of ovarian cancer within the individual.

Since ovarian cancer doesn’t get as much attention as other cancers, it may not even occur to women to ask their doctors about exams that could be life-saving. Compounded with the fact that there aren’t many symptoms of the cancer until it starts to spread (and even then, the symptoms are not specific – like abdominal pain and feeling full quickly) ­– it seems to slip under the radar.

Due to the lack of highly-accurate early detection tests, only about 20% of women with ovarian cancer are detected in stage I or II. The rest are detected later, when it’s much harder to treat, and about 28% of those women survive. So 80% of women diagnosed have only a 28% chance of living through treatment.

We can change that! There are so many ways to help. You can donate to causes like the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance, groups that are researching better ways to test for the cancer, treat it, and cure it. You can honor Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in September (and year-round!) with social media posts. And, you can share this article with your friends and family, and encourage them to make an appointment with their doctor to assess their risk for ovarian cancer.

Make sure to set up annual appointments (minimum!) with your Think Whole Person Healthcare doctor. Regular appointments are a preventative measure that can keep you your heathiest. It’s all about making sure we can do what we love for as long as we can…because Life is for Living!

 


 

Mammo Q&A

Here are some tips for the final week of Breast Cancer Awareness Month


A quick Q&A about Mammograms with Jamie Gemar, Think Diagnostic Business Unit Leader

Jamie Gemar, Think Diagnostic Business Unit Leader

 

Q: Have there been any major improvements of mammogram testing in recent years?
A: Mammograms have come a long way in recent years, and now we have digital 3D capabilities, which improve diagnostic quality.

 

Q: When are mammograms most effective?
A: One of the keys for mammography to be effective is early detection. We like to have the opportunity to catch potential breast cancers when it’s small before it’s gotten so big that it’s harder to treat.

Knowing what your risk factors are is important, too. Most women start their mammogram testing at age 40 and have the test yearly, but all of this depends on family history and the like. It’s a good conversation to have with your physician – about what’s appropriate for you.

 

Q: Do patients need mammograms if they have no family history of breast cancer?
A: Just because you don’t have a strong family history doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be screened, especially around age 40, or whatever age your physician feels is right for you. All it takes is one person to begin a family history. Unfortunately, it could be you ­– it’s better to have peace of mind that you’ve taken time out of your busy life to take care of yourself because you’re important and we care about your health.

 

Q: What’s the one thing Think Whole Person Healthcare patients love the most about the primary healthcare clinic?
A: Having so many healthcare services all in one place is probably the biggest benefit to our patients. They can come get their mammogram before their doctor’s appointment and then their doctor usually gets those results within 24 hours, so having it all in one place is makes it much easier for our patients to manage.

 


 

What do you know about mammography testing?

Multi-ethnic group of women, men at breast cancer rallyThere’s no getting around it – women go through a lot. From child birth, pap smears, menstruation, grooming, and we can’t forget…mammograms. Of course, some of these are personal choices – especially because they vary in levels of discomfort. They are all important and sometimes necessary to stay healthy.

If you haven’t gotten a mammogram in a while, you may not know how technological advancements make this test more accurate. That’s great for you because you know it’s worth your time. If you’re 40+ and have been steering clear of your mammogram, it’s time to get back on track.

First, some science. The breast is one of the hardest spots of the body to image through x-rays. Think of all the different densities of breast tissues and fat. The tissue also differs among women of different ages – it can be dense or fatty. Because of this, it’s been historically hard to get a high contrast image of the different layers of the breast anatomy.

 

This test’s major improvements deal with that. Here’s a quick, very simplified, 50-year history of mammography.

THE 60s and 70s

In the 60s, radiologists screened for breast cancer with direct exposure film, which couldn’t effectively “cut through” the breast tissue to check for tumors. It was essentially getting a chest x-ray. Direct exposure film also meant higher radiation exposure.

THE 80s and 90s

Screen-film mammography came to the forefront as the gold standard of mammography in the 80s and 90s. It became easier to see contrasts in tissue and identify abnormalities, but still wasn’t “quite there.”

CONGRESS GOT INVOLED

The mammography test continued to get better as more teams dedicated to mammography radiation formed. In the 90s, Congress passed the Mammography Quality Standards Act of 1992, which had nation-wide implications. This resulted in higher-quality imaging and interpretations of the imaging.

THE 2000s

In the 2000s came the introduction of digital mammography. Because of this evolution, fewer and shorter exposures are needed. This makes the process safer with less radiation exposure, and more comfortable for the patient. Additionally, it is easier to see the contrast in digital imaging vs. film imaging.

THE 2010s

Mammography testing continues to become more refined, especially with the latest introduction of 3D Tomosynthesis Mammography. Instead of flat imaging, 3D Mammography allows for an exact look into the layers of breast tissue, decreasing the number of false-positives and false-negatives.

 

Some Good News – and More Reason to Have Your Mammogram

Mortalities from breast cancer continue to decline. There are many reasons for this, including more awareness and research funding from sources like the Komen Race for the Cure, and nation-wide standards set in place for imaging and interpretation. The one we’re focusing on in this article is early detection, caused by the improvements of mammography imaging. You can see in the graph below from the National Center for Health Statistics from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, that in the 90s, when strides were made, the mortality rate from breast cancer began its decline.

Cancer Death Rates Graph

When you get your mammogram test at Think Whole Person Healthcare, you get a huge benefit. Think Whole Person Healthcare offers results within 24 hours.* This is beneficial because it eliminates wait and worry – you can discuss the results of your mammogram with your Think Whole Person Healthcare primary doctor  in a timely manner. It’s the holistic, patient-centered  way to practice healthcare.

 

Plus, when you get your mammogram at Think Whole Person Healthcare this month, you’re automatically entered into a drawing to win a Breast Cancer Awareness gift basket or gift card for you and/or to share with a friend affected by breast cancer. It’s an extra perk and incentive to get the test. We’re here to help you live life to the fullest. After all, Life Is For Living.

 

*Note: Radiologists can only give you 24-hour turn-around when they have access to your previous mammograms so they can give you the most accurate interpretation your results.

Top 10 Benefits of Water

 

Written by: Michelle Cooper Day, Women’s Pelvic Health Physical Therapist

– and the down side for many women…

We all know about the benefits of water:

  1. Regular bowel movements – helps with digestion and keeps our bowels moving
  2. Healthy skin – moisturizes skin from within, decreases wrinkles
  3. Flushes out toxins – urination and sweating after drinking water rids our body of waste preventing kidney stones and UTI’s
  4. Immune system booster – keeps our eyes and mouth moist to repel infection
  5. Headache prevention – dehydration is the leading cause of headaches
  6. Increases our energy – keeping the brain hydrated helps us to think, focus, and concentrate
  7. Zero calories – adding some cucumber or a few berries gives water a natural flavor
  8. Joint lubricant – keeps our joints moving smoothly and muscles fluid
  9. Mood booster – water is required for the brain and body to produce the right neurotransmitters to prevent depression and insomnia
  10. Keeps us cool – water is required so we can sweat to cool our body on those hot summer days

How much water should you drink is a common question? Estimated amount for women is eight 8 ounce glasses per day with a gradual increase to that amount if you have been drinking less. A half ounce per pound of body weight is the recommended amount with more on hot days or if you are working out and sweating. Your urine should be slightly clear yellow in color and not dark.

Unfortunately, many women do not drink enough water because they report it increases their urinary incontinence episodes especially when exercising. If pelvic floor muscles are not functioning as they should, urine can leak from the bladder despite our best efforts. Kegels are often recommended to help the muscles strengthen but Kegels aren’t for everyone (see previous article) and many women do not know if they are actually doing a Kegel correctly.

Michelle Cooper Day, MPT, is a specially trained physical therapist that treats women’s pelvic floor muscles.  She can determine if these muscles are flexible, coordinated and strong and help you with a plan to improve your bladder control so you can drink the necessary water to keep you healthy. These visits are covered by insurance under physical therapy including Medicare.

Recipe: Cucumber, Mint, Cranberry Spa Water

  1. Fill a pitcher with water.
  2. Add slices of cucumber, washed mint leaves crushed, and fresh cranberries. You can substitute blueberries, strawberries, pineapple slices. I tend to avoid lemon and citrus fruits because it can irritate the bladder.
  3. Refrigerate until chilled.
  4. Pour into your favorite glass and enjoy the fresh flavor!
  5. Store in the refrigerator.

 

What is Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy?

Kegels Aren’t for Everyone

Women typically don’t think about the importance of our pelvic floor muscles until something goes wrong. If you’re leaking urine with running, jumping, coughing, sneezing (stress incontinence), can’t quite make it to the bathroom in time (urge incontinence), going more than 5-8 times per day, waking up more than once every night (urinary frequency), or if you have pain with intercourse, you should seek help from a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist.

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles attached to the pelvis, hips, and sacrum that support the abdominal contents and reacts to changes in pressure created by the diaphragm above. This group of muscles supports the bladder, urethra, uterus, vagina, and rectum. The pelvic floor is responsible for our bladder and bowel function plus sexual function. Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy is research proven as a first-line of defense against Incontinence and Pelvic Pain prior to medication and/or surgery. Schedule an appointment now (402) 506-9050.

Kegels are commonly recommended when a woman reports urinary or bowel incontinence – it’s not a normal part of aging! However, not all women should do Kegels because it may cause more harm than good. And if you are performing Kegels – how do you know if you are doing them properly?

A specially trained Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist can assess your pelvic floor using internal and external techniques to evaluate the function of your pelvic floor muscles. It’s important to assess the surrounding structures of the pelvic floor such as the connective tissue, sacroiliac joint, pubic symphysis, low back, and hips. It is necessary to assess your ability to contract AND relax the pelvic floor muscles. Assessing your patterns of active pelvic floor recruitment of your core and breathing plus function with tasks such as lifting, running, and transfers is crucial.

If the muscles are determined to be tight, you might be experiencing:

  • Urinary frequency, urgency, hesitancy, stopping and starting of the urine stream, painful urination, or incomplete emptying
  • Constipation, straining, pain with bowel movements
  • Unexplained pain in your low back, pelvic region, hips, genital area, or rectum
  • Pain during or after intercourse

If the muscles of the pelvic floor are weak, you might be experiencing:

  • Vaginal or rectal heaviness or pressure – prolapse
  • Urinary incontinence with cough, sneeze, run, jump or position changes

A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist will determine the status of your pelvic floor muscles and treat any tight muscles until they reach their normal flexibility. Then the strength and coordination will be addressed (which might include a form of Kegels) and monitored to make sure the exercises are being performed correctly.

Our pelvic floor is an area that tends to hold our emotions. Addressing depression, anxiety, and stress plus realizing the importance of our thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs is essential. A mental health care provider can assist in this area, if needed, combined with Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy resulting in a faster and more effective recovery.

See our specially trained Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist, Michelle Cooper Day, MPT, BScEd and find out if you should be doing Kegels and make sure you’re doing them correctly! Schedule an appointment (402) 506-9050


 

Women’s Pelvic Health

Are you a woman who?:

  • Leaks urine when you exercise, cough, sneeze, or laugh?
  • Doesn’t quite make it to the toilet before leaking urine?
  • Is running to the restroom frequently to prevent urinary leakage or you just feel like you have to “go” often?
  • Wakes during the night more than once to urinate?
  • Wears protective pads for urine leakage?
  • Suffers from constipation?
  • Has pain with intercourse?
  • Is having issues recovering from childbirth?
  • Is experiencing pelvic pain?

Just because these are common issues doesn’t mean they are “normal”. There is no need to suffer with pain or spend countless dollars on protective pads. These issues do not just “go away” on their own and can worsen if not treated.
There is something you can do about it!

Women’s Pelvic Health Physical Therapy is a specialized area of rehabilitation focused on the assessment and treatment of women’s pelvic health concerns. Meet Michelle Cooper Day, MPT and start living your life again!

What Michelle’s patients are saying –

“Why didn’t I find out about this sooner?”

“I did not know this type of treatment even existed or could be so helpful.”

“I learned so much about what I can do to help myself with Michelle’s guidance.”

“I never knew the pelvic floor muscles were so important and needed proper care and attention!”

Speak to your doctor, specialist, or physical therapist to find out more. Call 402-506-9050 to schedule an appointment with Michelle Cooper Day, today!