Category Archives: Expert Health Advice

Catching Lung Cancer Early

Posted on: October 26, 2015

A Story of Hope…

Dr. Christos StavropoulosAlthough my patient quit smoking six years ago, she remained at high risk for lung cancer. When a Low-Dose CT screening showed something like a little marble in her lung, I recommended a surgical biopsy. But my patient hesitated, feeling “very nervous” about the procedure. When I gently told her that “If it were my mother, this is the advice I’d give her,” she agreed to proceed.

During the operation, I extracted a piece of lung with the nodule to obtain the diagnosis. When it tested positive for cancer, I performed a lobectomy during the same procedure, sparing my patient a second exposure to anesthesia. Afterwards, she was immensely relieved that her cancer was removed, and very pleased to be “up and around” almost immediately after the minimally invasive procedure.

Today, my patient is incredibly grateful that her cancer was found at stage 1A, and that, as a result, she didn’t need radiation or chemotherapy, just ongoing surveillance CT scans.

This is the best possible scenario for someone with lung cancer. Because we caught her cancer early, she has a real chance for a cure.

To see if you’re a candidate for low-dose CT scans, take this self-assessment.

Editor’s Note:  Dr. Stavropoulos is the Director of the Lung Cancer Program at the Cancer Treatment & Wellness Center at Northern Westchester Hospital

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Germ Buster Nutrition – Eating for a Strong Immune System

Posted on: October 13, 2015

Germ Buster Nutrition – Eating for a Strong Immune System

Prevent the flu with good nutrition. 

By Elisa Bremner

In anticipation of flu season, it’s time to talk about prevention. First and foremost, please remember: the best defense against the flu is a year-round offense. This means eating right, staying active (60 minutes every day), getting enough rest (7-9 hours!) and minimizing stress (we can’t avoid stressful events in our life, but we can make the decision to handle them better). That being said, several nutrients play a role in enhancing your immunity. Mild deficiency of even one nutrient may weaken your body’s ability to fight infection.

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Activate Your Defenses Against the Flu

Posted on: October 12, 2015

Activate Your Defenses Against the Flu

This year, government analysis indicates the vaccine will be a good match for this year’s flu strains. Read on…

By Dr. Debra Spicehandler

Believe it or not, it’s already flu shot time. If you haven’t already scheduled one, now is the time. Gaining full immunity can take about two weeks, and you want to make sure you’re protected before the flu begins circulating in your community.

You may have heard that last year’s vaccine didn’t offer as much protection as usual, but that’s no reason to skip the shot this year. Developing the yearly flu vaccine is a complex process: Several months in advance of flu season, public health officials have to predict which strain of flu virus will be most prevalent come winter in order to give vaccine makers time to produce the nearly 180 million doses America requires. Occasionally, the predictions miss the target—or the target moves. In 2014, the flu virus mutated after the vaccine had shipped. As a result, the shots were only about 13% effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This year, a recent government analysis indicates the vaccine will be a good match for this year’s flu strains. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older should get the vaccine, which now comes as a needle injection, a jet (air) injection, and a nasal spray. You can get vaccinated at your doctor’s office, your workplace, or at local pharmacies, health departments, and schools.

Flu shots are available right now, and the sooner you get your dose the better. It takes about two weeks for immunity to kick in, and you want to be sure you have immunity before the virus starts circulating in your area. People who should be first in line are those at higher risk for complications from the flu, such as the elderly, young children, and anyone with a compromised immune system. You can rest assured that the vaccine is safe; the only reason to avoid it is if you have a history of an allergic reaction to the shot. (By the way, you do need to get a shot every year—immunity doesn’t carry over.)

In order to protect against catching the flu, get the vaccine and be careful to always wash your hands. If symptoms do develop, see your doctor. If you test positive for the flu, you can get a prescription for antiviral drugs, which can reduce your symptoms and help you heal faster.

Find a flu vaccine location near you…

Editor’s Note:
Debra Spicehandler, MD is Co-Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases at Northern Westchester Hospital

Dr. Peris Discusses Relief from Back Pain

Posted on: September 16, 2015

How to Treat Your Aching Back

By Dr. Marshal Peris

You’ll be happy to hear that most people recover from back pain within a few days just by taking it easy, continuing gentle activity, and using over-the-counter pain medicine such as naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen to ease their pain. If the pain doesn’t resolve itself within a week or so, your doctor may suggest physical therapy where you can learn stretches and ways of moving that will ease the strain on your back.

If you are still experiencing pain, prescription pain medications and possibly steroid injections to reduce swelling in your back are likely next steps. Your physician may recommend imaging to determine if abnormalities in your spine are causing your pain. If your back pain doesn’t get better using these more conservative methods, your doctor may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon to determine if surgery can help. Sometimes abnormalities in the vertebrae or the soft discs that cushion your spine can press on spinal nerves and cause pain or numbness in your legs and make it difficult to walk or stand. In such cases, surgery can help immensely.

Your orthopedic surgeon will explore your options with you, and the two of you can decide on the best approach. The good news is that the surgical solutions for back pain are improving all the time. One exciting development used at Northern Westchester Hospital is direct lateral fusion, which can address back abnormalities that cause chronic pain. As “lateral” implies, the surgeon works from the side of the patient. This advanced technique is much less invasive and allows us to achieve amazing results. The incision is much smaller and we don’t have to fuse as many vertebrae to get great results. It’s often a simpler, more effective treatment, and patients are usually up and moving after one day (instead of three to four) and typically leave the hospital after three to four days versus six to seven. The vast majority of patients are much happier and back to their normal activities much sooner.

Editor’s Note: Marshal D. Peris, MD FAAOS is the Director of Spine Surgery at the Orthopedic & Spine Institute and President of the Medical Staff at Northern Westchester Hospital.

 

The Clever Cook: Back to School Lunchbox Learning

Posted on: September 8, 2015

The Clever Cook: Back to School Lunchbox Learning

By Amy Rosenfeld

Getting in the back-to-school swing after a relaxing, stress-free summer might be difficult, but Banana Sunbutter Sushiit’s definitely doable. Here are some tips to get lunchbox organized:

1) Start a lunchbox meal planner and start a rotation. It may sound silly but taking the task of thinking of ideas out of your daily routine is a real time saver.
2) Get organized with great lunchbox materials. Stock up on a variety of portable containers, including many sizes for hot and cold packing.
3) Make recipes ahead and freeze. As much as you can do ahead of time, the better off you will be. One way to get started: make soups ahead and freeze in ice cube trays for easy defrosting.

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