prostate cancer

Prostate Cancer: What Every Woman Should Know

Just because women don’t have prostate glands doesn’t mean they shouldn’t know the facts about prostate cancer. In fact, as the gatekeepers of health for many families, women play an important role in encouraging the men in their lives to get regular prostate screenings.

“Women typically seek out healthcare more often,” says Dr. Jessica Kreshover, Urologist at the Arthur Smith Institute for Urology and Assistant Professor at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine. “Because of this, they are in a unique position to communicate the benefits of prostate cancer screening with their male family members and friends.”

The Benefits of Early Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer

Many women are shocked to learn that prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, and that one in six men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime (source: American Cancer Society). Although these statistics are alarming, the news isn’t all bad. The reality is that prostate tumors are often highly treatable when they’re diagnosed at an early stage.

Yet, early stage prostate cancer typically has few or no symptoms. It is most often first detected by a digital rectal exam (DRE) followed by a blood test to measure a protein made by prostate cells, called prostate specific antigen (PSA). A doctor usually can feel whether there is any swelling or nodules on the prostate. An elevated level of PSA also is an indicator that cancer may be present.

Current Prostate Screening Guidelines

The American Urological Association recommends that men obtain a baseline PSA screening and a DRE at age 55 or age 40 if there are risk factors (African Americans and family history), with follow-up screens at intervals determined by the patient and his physician. Decisions made on screening intervals are based on multiple factors including:

  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Family history
  • PSA test results

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force also recently announced a new recommendation that states that men ages 55 to 69 should “make an individualized decision about prostate cancer screening with their clinician.” This was a change to a blanket recommendation in 2012 for no routine screening at any age. Because of varying recommendations, it’s important for all men to discuss their specific prostate cancer screening needs with their physician during their annual checkup.

In some cases, genetic testing, to identify mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 which increase the risk of prostate cancer, as well as the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women, may be recommended as a risk assessment.

Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

If prostate cancer is diagnosed, treatment depends on the patient’s age, aggressiveness of the tumor and personal preference. Because prostate cancer is often slow-growing, repeat screenings and a follow-up biopsy is often the recommended option. If the cancer is more aggressive, treatment options may include surgical removal of the prostate, radiation therapy or brachytherapy, which involves placing small radioactive seeds in the prostate.

Coping with the Side Effects of Prostate Cancer Treatment

Some of the side effects of prostate cancer treatment, such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction (ED), can impact the quality of a man’s life. Fortunately, there are effective treatments for these side effects. Incontinence treatment options include surgical placement of a mesh sling over the urethra to hold urine back or an artificial urinary sphincter that closes down on the urethra to hold urine back. Oral medications, such as Cialis and Viagra, can help the majority of men who experience ED following treatment. Other ED treatment options include penile implants and vacuum pumps.

“There can be quality of life adjustments for some men following prostate cancer treatment,” says Dr. Kreshover. “However, women can help tremendously by providing compassionate moral support.”

Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about cancer detection and prevention. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

Integrative Medicine: A Holistic Approach to Healthcare

Integrative Medicine: A Holistic Approach to Healthcare

What Are the Benefits of Integrative Medicine?

Integrative medicine is about teaching healthier habits and treating the whole person and not just specific symptoms. The benefits are often far-reaching and long-lasting for patients. Integrative medicine can be an excellent tool for sustaining good health, as well as for treating chronic issues and painful or debilitating diseases and injuries.

Key Principles of Integrative Medicine

Unlike alternative medicine which refers to an approach to healing that is used in place of conventional medical therapies, integrative medicine uses all appropriate therapeutic approaches to achieve optimal health and healing. The following are some of the key principles of integrative medicine:

  • A strong partnership between patient and physician
  • Use of both conventional and alternative medicines and modalities
  • A focus on non-invasive treatments when possible
  • A clear emphasis on promoting health and illness prevention through ongoing healthy living

Combining Therapies

Over the last several decades, the popularity of combining conventional treatments with complementary therapies has grown tremendously. Patients and healthcare providers who were once skeptical of alternative treatments have become believers in the benefits of an integrative approach.

Increasingly, healthcare professionals who specialize in modern medicine are incorporating integrative medicine to promote health and wellness. By combining these approaches with conventional therapies, integrative practitioners can partner with patients and their primary healthcare providers to help relieve pain, reduce stress and support overall well-being.

And, many healthcare providers themselves use integrative approaches for their own personal healthcare because of the distinct health and wellness benefits.

“All medicine is integrative,” says Lucy P. Gade, MD, MPH, Medical Director, Center for Wellness and Integrative Medicine, Northwell Health. “By shifting from being disease-oriented to health-oriented, we can identify risks and minimize them as part of a whole person approach to healthcare. This can enable individuals to live healthier and happier lives.”

Common Integrative Health Approaches Used in Integrative Medicine

  • Deep breathing
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi or qi gong
  • Meditation
  • Massage
  • Functional nutrition
  • Homeopathy
  • Guided imagery

Want to learn more about integrative medicine? At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re here to answer your questions. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

eye exam

Protect Your Vision with a Comprehensive Eye Examination

It’s likely that you undergo regular vision screenings every year or so, particularly if you wear corrective lenses. “While vision screening is ideal for identifying vision problems,” says Dr. Anne Sara Steiner, MD, Director of the Northwell Health Ocular Service Center, “it cannot take the place of a comprehensive eye examination designed to identify even the earliest stages of eye disease.” This is why the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults with no signs of risk factors for eye disease, get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40 and regular follow-up exams based on your doctor’s recommendation.

Comprehensive Eye Examination

While a typical vision exam is relatively short and focused on vision correction, a comprehensive eye examination is far more detailed and thorough. During this type of exam, which can take up to two hours, you will undergo:

  • A complete health and medication history and vision history
  • An eye health evaluation
  • Visual acuity testing to determine sharpness and clarity of both near and distance vision
  • Visual field testing to determine your level of peripheral vision
  • Evaluation of pupil size and pupillary responses
  • Evaluation of eye movement

Using a device called a slit lamp, the front part of your eyes, as well as your eyelids, will be checked. Due in large part to our increasing use of electronic devices, dry eye has become a very common problem. If you experience frequent burning, itching or redness or have sensitivity to light, make sure to mention this to your doctor. Signs of dry eye will be identified during the exam, and there are effective preventive strategies and treatments for it.

You will also undergo an exam through dilated pupils which looks at the back of the eye, including the retina, macula and the optic nerve for signs of disease. During this part of the exam, drops are placed in each eye to widen the pupil and allow more light to enter the eye. Sight-threatening eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, can be identified.

With each part of the exam, your doctor will build a complete picture of your eye health and will work with you to make the best decisions on any treatment necessary, as well as preventive care and the suggested schedule for follow-up exams.

Ahead of your exam

Your comprehensive eye exam should be an important part of your ongoing healthcare maintenance. To maximize its value, schedule sufficient time for the entire exam and come prepared with questions and concerns. Your vision is incredibly important to protect, but with proactive eye exams, you can greatly increase your chances of perserving your sight for a lifetime.

Want to learn more about eye health? At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re here to answer your questions. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

colorectal cancer

Take Action to Prevent Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer doesn’t get the same amount of attention as some high-profile cancers, but it should. Many women are surprised to learn that colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of death from cancer. Found most often in individuals who are 50 and older, this common form of cancer is highly preventable. In fact, six out of 10 deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented with regular screening.

Colorectal Cancer Screening Saves Lives

Screening for colorectal cancer can help find cancer at an early stage and decrease your chance of dying from it. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening colonoscopy beginning at age 50 and continuing until age 75 years. Women who are at a higher risk of developing this form of cancer should be screened at a younger age and may need more frequent screening.

The colonoscopy procedure is painless with a low risk of complications. Written instructions, provided by your doctor, prescribe a solution required to cleanse the colon. Fortunately, colonoscopy prep has improved over the years and the days of consuming large amounts of an unpleasant tasting laxative prior to the procedure are over. During the colonoscopy, your physician looks at the interior walls of the rectum and colon with a flexible, lighted tube called a colonoscope. If polyps are discovered, samples of tissue may be collected for closer examination and polyps can be removed.

“Simply put, screening colonoscopy saves lives,” says Dr. David Rivadeneira, Director of Colon and Rectal Surgery at Huntington Hospital. “Colorectal cancer is extremely prevalent, yet screening is fast and very safe with a very low complication rate.”

Colorectal Screening Tests

While colonoscopy remains the gold standard screening test for colorectal cancer, there are new tests now being introduced that use advanced DNA technology to find elevated levels of altered DNA which could be associated with cancer or pre-cancer. These tests include Cologuard, which is a single stool sample kit that patients can use at home.

Other colorectal cancer screening tests that are currently available include:

  • High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test – Checks for hidden blood in stool samples.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy – Looks at the interior walls of the rectum and part of the colon.

It’s important to discuss with your doctor which test is best for your specific needs.

What Else Can You Do to Prevent Colorectal Cancer?

Along with getting regular screenings for colorectal cancer, there are also lifestyle decisions you can make to lower your risk.

  • Don’t smoke
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get regular exercise
  • Drink alcohol only moderately, if not at all
  • Limit red meat, especially processed meat
  • Get the daily recommended amount of calcium and vitamin D in your diet
  • Take a multivitamin with folate

Want to learn more about colorectal cancer prevention? At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re here to answer your questions. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist. For questions about colorectal cancer and screenings, please contact Dr. David Rivadeneira at 631-470-1450.

caregivers

Providing More Help for Caregivers

The cycle-of-life is most poignant when faced with the challenge of caring for an ill or frail loved one. While there are few things in life that are more rewarding than being a caregiver, the role can be overwhelming. According to recent estimates from the National Alliance for Caregiving, more than 65 million Americans provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged relative or friend each year. And, the majority of caregivers are women. Many also juggle the daily stresses and responsibilities of a full-time job and children.

Caregivers often fall into their role unexpectedly following a loved one’s hospital stay and face a learning curve as they become involved in the daily tasks of home care. Most families don’t have the financial resources to hire private help on a long-term basis to care for a loved one. And, treatment plans can be complex and difficult to manage, even for the most capable caregiver.

In recent years, there has been a shift of delivery of care into the community and out of the hospitals. Caregivers must quickly learn skills, such as monitoring blood pressure, wound-care management and administering intravenous (IV) medicines. They also must figure out a way to balance caregiving with other aspects of their lives. This responsibility is often placed into the hands of individuals with no medical experience, who are not prepared for what is suddenly expected of them. Yet, many who face these difficult circumstances are able to rise to the challenge – particularly when they are provided with resources, education and support.

“There’s an increasing burden on caregivers,” says Maria Torroella Carney, MD, chief of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at Northwell Health. “Both healthcare and government need to place greater importance on caregiving needs in treatment plans. As a community, we should all consider how to help those who are most vulnerable, as well as those who care for these individuals.”

Strategies for Caregivers

While it’s estimated that by 2030, approximately 5.3 million seniors (source: National Institutes of Health) will be living in nursing homes, a far greater number will remain at home, relying on family and friends as caregivers. This will certainly require the development of new resources as the population continues to grow older. In the meantime, there are strategies that can help those who currently manage the challenges of caregiving.

Involve others

You probably have friends or family members who have said, “Let me know if there’s something I can do to help.” Take them up on their offer. Start by creating a list of items that can be done, whether that’s helping with grocery shopping or spending time with your loved one so you can have an afternoon for yourself.

Don’t neglect Your health

It may seem like a secondary task when you’re caring for someone else. Yet, your self-care is vital for a caregiver. Make it a focus to exercise and eat balanced, regular meals. While caregiving can certainly be a 24-hour a day job, it’s also important to obtain sufficient sleep to restore your body and mind.

Take regular breaks

Even a 15 or 20-minute break each day can be beneficial. A walk around the block or time to read a chapter of a book can be very beneficial.

Find available resources

There is caregiver help available through hospitals and community programs. This includes support groups, social workers, meal programs and more.

Don’t ignore your mental health

If you’re having feelings of sadness, loneliness, anxiety, anger or fatigue, it’s important to seek professional help. The feelings caregivers experience can often be overwhelming. Call your doctor or a community resource for help.

Learn more about caregiver support? At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re here to answer your questions. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

cervical cancer screening

What’s New in Cervical Cancer Screening and Prevention?

Recently, sports journalist Erin Andrews confirmed that she had undergone surgery for cervical cancer. By making her diagnosis and treatment public, Andrews provided an important reminder to all women that cervical cancer screenings save lives. Once a common cause of death among women, the cervical cancer death rate has decreased substantially over the past 40 years, primarily because of Pap tests which detect cervical cancer in its earliest and most preventable stage.

Although Pap tests have been used to screen for cervical cancer for decades, the guidelines for when women should be screened have changed in recent years. It was once considered a healthcare necessity for women to undergo an annual Pap test. These guidelines have been revised due to new research and advances in preventive care. The American Cancer Society and the US Preventive Services Task Force now recommend that healthy women begin cervical cancer screenings at age 21 with Pap tests every three years. At age 30, women should have a Pap test combined with an HPV test every five years. Women over the age of 65 may not need to continue screening if there has not been a history of significant cervical pre-cancer and her screening has been adequate. Of course, these guidelines do not apply to all women. Depending on specific circumstances, a woman may require other testing or continued screening. This is why it’s important to discuss your specific screening needs with your healthcare provider.

Understanding the Link between HPV and Cervical Cancer

Certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) cause nearly all cases of cervical cancer. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. In fact, it’s so common that the vast majority of sexually active men and women acquire it at some point in their lives. There are many types of the HPV virus. Yet, only some cause cervical cancer, as well as other cancers, including cancer of the vulva, vagina, anus, throat and tonsils. Cancer caused by HPV is generally slow-growing and can take years and even decades to develop.

The best way to reduce the spread of HPV infection is through vaccination. The HPV vaccine is highly effective in protecting females, as well as males against HPV when given in the recommended age group. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend 11 to 12-year-olds receive two doses of HPV vaccine to protect against developing cancers caused by HPV. Catch-up vaccines are recommended for males through age 21 and for females through age 26 if they haven’t been previously vaccinated.

“Cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccinations have the potential to virtually eliminate cervical cancer,” say Dr. Andrew Menzin, Chief of Gynecologic Oncology for Northwell Physician Partners, Central Region. “It’s essential for healthcare providers to help their patients understand what they can do to proactively mitigate their risk of this highly preventable form of cancer.”

Cervical Cancer Treatment

For the over 11,000 women in the United States who develop cervical cancer each year, there is also good news. Those who are diagnosed with cervical cancer in its earliest and most preventable stage have a very high survival rate. In other words, be an advocate in your health by ensuring you’re staying current with life-saving cervical cancer screenings.

Learn more about cervical cancer prevention. At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re here to answer your questions. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

Looking Your Best at Any Age

Tips for Graceful Aging

We all know those fortunate women who don’t seem to age as fast as others. They sustain glowing skin, bright eyes and a youthful smile for decades without having any signs of having “work” done. Have you wondered what their secret is for slowing the aging process? The truth is they are likely taking proactive steps that all of us can use to look and feel young.

Minimize Sun Exposure

According to a 2013 study of sunscreen and prevention of skin aging, sun exposure accounts for up to 80 percent of visible signs of aging on the face. In other words, that “healthy” looking tan in your 20s is the cause of fine lines and wrinkles that begin to appear in your 30s and 40s. To maintain young-looking skin, it’s vital to stay out of the sun as much as possible. Wear hats and clothing to protect your skin and get into the habit of wearing sunscreen when you’re outside. This includes during the winter!

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

Just peruse the skincare aisle of your local grocery or drug store, and you’ll see a dizzying array of creams, lotions and serums that all promise to make you look younger and wrinkle-free. Of course, there’s a lot of marketing that goes into skincare products. Yet, it’s not all gimmick. In fact, the regular use of a facial moisturizer can help treat dry skin and improve overall skin texture. Consider adopting a daily moisturizing regiment to maintain balance in your skin. For mature skin, look for an exfoliating cream that contains ingredients such as salicylic acid, beta hydroxy acids and antioxidants like vitamin C to promote cell turnover and fight cell damage that cause skin to age.

Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle

While staying out of the sun and getting into the habit of moisturizing can go a long way toward protecting your skin, it’s also important to make some healthy lifestyle decisions. By eating a balanced diet, avoiding smoking and getting regular exercise, you’ll not only be healthier, you’ll look healthier too.

“Maintaining good health is essential to protecting the visible top layer of the face.” says Dr. Lyle Leipziger, M.D., FACS, chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) and Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC). “By making proactive decisions to eat right, exercise and avoid sun exposure, you can greatly reduce many of the signs of aging, such as fine lines and skin discolorations.”

Aging Is Inevitable

It’s a fact of life that, while you may be able to slow down aging, there is simply no way to completely stop its progression. For every woman, there are normal changes that inevitably appear over time. Thinning skin and loss of facial volume can create a droopy appearance that can make some feel less than youthful when they look in the mirror. Advancements in technologies and treatments have made it easier than ever to look younger.

If you feel you’re aging faster than you’d like or simply want to freshen your look, the good news is there are many non-surgical and minimally-invasive procedures that can help. Botox or Dysport injectable treatments can reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing muscle activity in injected areas. This simple treatment takes about 10 minutes to complete and offers significant improvements in just a few days. Artful placement of dermal fillers, such as Juvederm, Voluma and Restylane, can also offer amazing results by plumping lips, improving contours, filling depressions, lessening wrinkles and replacing lost volume in the face. These non-surgical procedures are cost-effective and effective at reversing many signs of aging.

For longer-lasting results, there are also surgical procedures that can greatly diminish signs of aging. Procedures like eyelid lifts, facelifts and brow lifts can dramatically improve appearance. “Surgery is often the best option for a woman who wants to reset the clock with a one-stage procedure for a more youthful appearance,” says Dr. Leipziger.

If you’re considering cosmetic surgery, first and foremost, it’s important to choose the right surgeon. As you talk to prospective cosmetic surgeons, don’t be shy about asking questions. A few questions to ask include:

  • How long have you been performing cosmetic surgery?
  • Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
  • At which hospitals do you have privileges?
  • Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
  • Can I speak to some of your previous patients about their experience?
  • Can I view before and after photographs of the proposed procedure?
  • What will the cost be and do you offer any financing options?
  • What happens if the results aren’t what we planned?

Choose your surgeon with care to minimize the chance of having complications and unsatisfactory results. Your best bet is always a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who is skilled, professional and willing to listen closely to find out exactly what you want and need.

Do you want to learn more about how to look your best at any age? At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re here to answer your questions. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist. For questions about cosmetic enhancements, please contact Dr. Lyle Leipziger at 516-465-8787.

Falls Prevention Month

Fall Prevention Strategies

Maintaining independence as long as possible is a goal for women as they age. Yet each year, millions suffer fall injuries – making it difficult for many to get around, manage daily activities or live on their own. For some, falls result in broken bones, head injuries and even death.

Most are surprised to find out just how costly and serious falls can be:

  • Nearly 3 million older people are treated annually in emergency rooms for fall injuries.*
  • Over 800,000 patients are hospitalized each year because of a fall injury, such as a hip fracture or head injury.*
  • The direct medical costs for fall injuries are $31 billion annually.*

In other words, women of all ages should be taking proactive steps to prevent falling and to prevent loved ones from falling, too!

“Falling is the most common cause of a loss of independence in older women,” says Lori Ginsberg RN, MA, coordinator, Public Health Initiatives, Office of Community and Public Health at Northwell Health. “However, aging itself doesn’t cause falls, and we all have the power to reduce our risk.”

Lori recommends a multi-pronged approach to fall prevention.

Around the House

The majority of serious falls happen at home. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, more than 20,400 people die each year from falls at home, and the majority are over the age of 65. What can you do to make your home or the home of a loved one safer?

  • Use nightlights in the bedroom and bathroom.
  • Install grab bars in the shower and around the toilet.
  • Use non-skid mats in the bath and shower.
  • Ensure lighting is sufficient at the top and bottom of stairways.
  • Remove throw rugs.
  • Keep rooms free of clutter, such as small furniture, electrical cords, boxes and pet gear.
  • Wipe up spills.
  • Make sure floors are level and carpets are secured to the floor.
  • Light outdoor walkways and keep them free of ice.

Your Health

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This old adage certainly holds true when it comes to preventing falls. There are many ways to keep yourself healthy to reduce your chance of falling.

  • Keep your bones strong with a calcium and vitamin D-rich diet.
  • Get your eyes checked regularly.
  • Stay hydrated and keep blood sugar in check to avoid fainting and confusion.
  • Exercise regularly with a focus on core strength and balance.
  • Manage blood pressure.
  • Avoid sudden changes in posture. When going from lying down to sitting, sitting to standing, or standing from bending over, pause after the change in posture to let your body adjust before you move again.
  • Speak to your pharmacist about potential risks of falling while taking certain medications.

Daily Habits

Often it’s a simple error in judgment that can lead to a serious fall. The following are some of the most common risky habits to avoid:

  • Avoid backless shoes and slippers—especially flip-flops.
  • Use a grip device on your shoes and a cane with an ice pick tip during snowy/icy conditions.
  • If you must use a stepstool, make sure it is steady and has a high bar to hold on to.
  • Invest in pet-obedience for your dogs to minimize behaviors associated with falls (pushing or pulling).
  • Use handrails while walking up and down stairs.

It’s also important to focus on how you walk, says Lori. “Many women as they age tend to look down and shuffle when they walk. However, this hinders the ability to look forward to prevent a fall. I encourage all women to stand up straight and walk heel first then toe. This will prevent feet catching on carpets, rugs and stairs, and will greatly minimize the chance of a fall.”

At various local community sites, including libraries, senior centers, churches and synagogues, Northwell Health offers the Stepping On fall prevention program. The program is designed to empower older adults to reduce their risk of falls. The class is open to anyone who has had a fall in the past year, is fearful of falling, or who just wants useful strategies for avoiding falls.

Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about fall prevention. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

* Source: Centers for Disease Control