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.

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.

The Present of Presence – Mindfulness During the Holidays

The holidays are a time for celebration and gratitude. Too often, however, they’re the cause of stress and anxiety. For many, juggling the holiday tasks of shopping, decorating, cooking and social obligations can lead to feeling downright overwhelmed. However, before you’re tempted to call off the holidays altogether, you may want to try a 5,000-year-old practice that can help you get through the season and beyond. It’s mindfulness, and the power of simply being in the present moment, even for a brief period of time, can be restorative and beneficial for the body, mind and spirit.

“The everyday pressures of family and work can become even greater during the holidays,” says Dr. Lisa Langer, clinical assistant professor, Department of Psychiatry at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine. “The ability to be present in the moment is not only a gift to others, but also to ourselves.”

Mindfulness can be as simple as just taking a few minutes each day to sit quietly and focus on breathing. This simple activity enables us to reconnect with the right here, right now and to gain clarity and focus. This is a particularly helpful tool to use when feeling overwhelmed and anxious. There are even easy-to-use apps, like Insight Timer and Calm that can help you incorporate greater mindfulness into your day-to-day life.

Make Time for Moments for Yourself and Others

Through mindfulness, many experience greater clarity of what is truly important during the holidays. And, what’s important might not be battling it out in the mall to get the latest gadget or toy. You may find that carving out quality time for family, travel or just reading a book is more important than getting the latest and greatest gift or attending a holiday party. It can be beneficial to write down your holiday intentions or share them with a friend or family member. This can help you stay on track and avoid feelings of guilt. And yes, you may need to decline an invite or say no to a family member or friend to set your limits.

“In this hyper-connected age, media can also be a big contributor to stress, especially during the holidays,” says Dr. Langer. “It can be helpful to limit time on social media and 24/7 news channels which can both increase stress and anxiety. Taking a break can help you refocus on being present for yourself and others.”

Finally, many who begin to incorporate mindfulness into their daily lives also discover the benefits of being grateful for what they have. It’s not always about having the most decorated house on the block or buying that expensive gift. Rather, it’s about being in the present moment and recognizing all that there is to be grateful for. At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re grateful for the opportunity to be your healthcare provider.

The Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about stress and anxiety, mindfulness and other integrative health services. For more information, call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

holiday eating

Smart Holiday Eating Strategies

Favorite childhood memories often involve enjoying the sweets and treats of the holidays. While they’re still just as delicious when we indulge in them as adults, they can lead to unwanted, post-holiday weight gain. Navigating the dinners, desserts, parties and drinks that often go hand-in-hand with holiday celebrations can be challenging for even the most disciplined eaters. This is why many gain post-holiday pounds. One way to maintain a healthy weight throughout the year is to have smart holiday eating strategies for keeping calories in check throughout the holiday season.

“Often it’s a matter of doing simple things like not going to a party hungry that can help you avoid over-indulging during the holidays,” says Marissa Licata, MS, RD, CDN, nutritionist with the Katz Institute for Women’s Health. “While it’s always good to substitute healthier foods for richer holiday fare, making strategic decisions about how and when you eat during the holidays can make a big difference.” Licata suggests a variety of strategies for managing calorie consumption throughout the holidays. These include:

Don’t Skip Meals

We can all get busy decking the halls, shopping for gifts and getting together with friends and family. Yet, we still require the same level of nutrients during the holidays as we do the rest of the year. By ensuring we eat balanced breakfasts and lunches, we can greatly reduce our desire to overeat during a holiday event or meal.

Eat before a Party

It can be tempting to avoid eating during the day because you know they’ll be plenty of good food at a party. The reality is arriving at a celebration with an empty stomach is a surefire way to excessively snack (and be negatively impacted by the effects of alcohol). Before the party, eat a small healthy snack that will keep your appetite in check and you on track for eating right.

Bring Something Healthy to a Potluck

Making something for a potluck event is a wonderful way to showcase your culinary skills. This year, make it a point to whip up something healthy and flavorful. Not only will other party attendees appreciate your efforts, you’ll have a healthy option if your only other choices are cheese-laden spinach dip and pigs in a blanket.

Stand Away from the Buffet Table

It can be tempting to grab a handful of nuts or reach for that last canape, but you know they amount to empty calories that you don’t need. Don’t increase your temptation by standing close to the buffet. Instead, make a single trip through the line and eat only the items on your plate.

Carefully Select Your Buffet Offerings

Don’t make a seven-layer dip of everything on the buffet line. Choose only the items that you really enjoy and savor each bite. Loading a slab of prime rib on top of a collection of mini quiches, cocktail shrimp and chicken skewers will leave you feeling full and may keep you up all night with heartburn. Moderation is your friend!

Be Careful of Calorie-Laden Beverages

For many, holiday cheer involves a beverage or two. Yet, it’s very easy to consume hundreds of empty calories without even being aware of it. If you’re trying to keep weight in check throughout the season, you will want to avoid high calorie beverages like egg nog and high fat coffee drinks. Smarter options include wine spritzers, light beers, herbal teas, or even mineral water with a twist of lemon.

Stick to Your Exercise Schedule

Your calendar is booked, and you still have gifts to buy and trees to trim. During the holiday season, we’re all pressed for time, and scheduling exercise can seem next to impossible. Yet, exercise is not only necessary for keeping weight in check, it’s also a great stress reliever during this hectic time of year.

Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about nutrition and healthy eating. For more information or to schedule an appointment with our nutritionist, call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

health literacy

Improving Health Literacy through Language Assistance

George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” These words highlight one of healthcare’s most pressing challenges when it comes to health literacy – language barriers. With increasing number of limited English proficiency (LEP) patients, the need for language assistance in healthcare is increasing. This requires a greater focus on providing meaningful access to language services, such as interpreters and translation of written communication.

Why Is Health Literacy Important?

By 2050, 48 percent of the U.S. population is expected to be part of a racial or ethnic minority group. This shift in the population is propelling healthcare organizations across the country to develop strategies to address the changing communication needs of patients, in regards to language preference and level of health literacy.

To provide patient-centered, equitable care, health literacy initiatives and programs are necessary. They are also now mandated by the government. As part of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), healthcare providers must provide translation and interpreting services for LEP individuals. This requirement was put in place because millions of Americans have difficulty communicating with their healthcare providers due to language challenges, and the consequences can negatively impact the level of care they receive. Many studies show that patients with limited English proficiency are more likely to delay obtaining medical care, miss follow-up appointment and misunderstand instructions. For example, a Spanish-speaking patient with a heart condition who reads instructions to take their blood pressure medication “once a day” may confuse the word “once” because it also means the number eleven (11) in Spanish. Taking 11 of these pills in one day could cause disastrous results. In other words, the consequences of a language barrier can sometimes be life-threatening.

“Misinterpretation or simply not understanding discharge instructions, medication labels and other forms of communication puts this segment of patients at increased risk for drug complications, readmissions, extended hospital stays, and poorer outcomes,” says Elizabeth McCulloch, PhD, director of Health Literacy and Cultural and Linguistic Competency for Northwell Health. “It’s a key focus for Northwell Health to provide the level of assistance necessary to ensure consistent, quality care and patient safety.”

A Comprehensive Approach

Overcoming communication challenges in healthcare has not always been effective. In many cases, family members of LEP patients were used as interpreters. However, when you consider that only 12 percent of U.S. adults, including those who are native English-speakers, are considered to have proficient health literacy, it’s easy to understand that bilingual healthcare providers and interpreters are necessary.

At Northwell Health, a comprehensive approach to language assistance has been developed to set standards of care for LEP patients to ensure effective communication. This includes offering telephonic interpretation services in over 250 different languages and video remote interpretation services for patients who are deaf or hard of hearing.

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

Managing diabetes

Managing Diabetes – Don’t Let Sweetness Be Your Weakness

Many consider diabetes to be like a roller coaster with significant ups and downs, but you have the choice to be fearful or to enjoy the ride. When it comes to diabetes management, living a productive happy life is possible, but it requires a consistent effort to keep your blood sugar levels in check by making healthy lifestyle decisions.

Getting Screened for Diabetes

The first step is diagnosis. Nearly one-third of those with diabetes don’t know they have the condition (source: CDC). Because there are often few or no symptoms of type 2 diabetes, early screening is essential to avoid developing complications of the disease which include damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels. Women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) need to be screened every three years. All adults need to be screened at 40. For those who have diabetes risk factors, screening should start at an earlier age and happen more frequently (USPTF). Risk factors include:

  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Family history of diabetes (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or siblings with the condition)
  • Physical inactivity
  • Race/ethnicity (African-American, Hispanic-American, Native American, Asian-American or Pacific Islander)
  • High blood pressure (equal to or greater than 140/90)
  • History of impaired fasting glucose or gestational diabetes

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to know you’re not alone. Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and another 86 million have prediabetes with blood sugar levels that are higher than normal (source: CDC).

Healthy Eating for Life

Well-balanced meals are fundamental in keeping your blood sugar levels within the range recommended by your doctor and for living a long, healthy life – whether or not you have been diagnosed with diabetes. This requires knowing how food impacts your blood sugar levels. This includes the type, quantity and combinations of foods that you eat.

“If you are at risk of diabetes or have already received a diagnosis, having a consultation with a registered dietitian can be very beneficial in helping you on the right path,” says Marissa Licata, Registered Dietitian at Katz Institute for Women’s Health. “Diabetes isn’t just about avoiding sugar. It’s about being able to plan healthy meals, coordinating meals and medications and learning how to count carbohydrates and measure portion sizes.”

The Daily Routine

Along with eating healthy, there are other healthy lifestyle habits you can adopt which can help you manage your blood sugar levels. These include:

Exercising Regularly – When you stay active, your muscles use sugar for energy, and your body uses insulin more efficiently.

Following Medication Guidelines – Insulin and other medications may be prescribed if diet and exercise alone are not enough to manage your diabetes. Their effectiveness depends on the timing and size of their dose.

Managing Stress – Hormones produced in response to stress can cause your blood sugar levels to rise. It’s important to learn strategies for coping with stress in your everyday life.

Staying Informed – The more you know about your condition and what can affect your blood sugar levels, the better you can anticipate and manage fluctuations.

“When it comes to managing diabetes, the key is not to let it have you,” says Alyson Myers, MD, Medical Director, Inpatient Diabetes, North Shore University Hospital. “It’s vital to stay focused on day-to-day factors that affect your blood sugar levels. This means healthy eating, getting physical activity, taking prescribed medications, sticking to a regular sleep schedule and seeing your doctor on a regular basis.”

Join Us on the evening of November 16th for an important Katz Institute for Women’s Health (KIWH) Women’s Wellness event: Diabetes – Don’t Let Sweetness Be Your Weakness.

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

breastfeeding for babies and moms

The Importance of Supporting Mothers Who Breastfeed

Breastfeeding is a personal choice for every new mother. For many women, the health advantages drive their decision to give their baby breast milk. From a variety of studies, researchers have discovered that the cells, hormones and antibodies in breastmilk offer babies significant protection from illness. This includes lower risks of:

  • Asthma
  • Childhood obesity
  • Ear infections
  • Eczema
  • Intestinal infections
  • Lower respiratory infections
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Type 2 diabetes

Along with providing these health benefits, breastfeeding also offers protection to women by reducing their risk of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and ovarian cancer (source: Womenshealth.gov). It also helps many women get back to their pre-pregnancy weight quicker.

Making the Decision to Breastfeed

Because breastfeeding is beneficial to both women and their babies, many healthcare providers, including Northwell Health, offer breastfeeding support services. At Northwell Health hospitals, prenatal breastfeeding classes introduce the basics of breastfeeding to expectant parents to help them establish a healthy breastfeeding relationship with their baby.

“This highly informative class not only helps women learn about the many benefits of breastfeeding, it also gives them confidence that will help them significantly once their baby is born,” says Cynthia McKie-Addy, Director of Patient Care Services – Maternal Child at North Shore University Hospital.

Immediately following delivery, skin-to-skin contact between the mother and infant is important to establish breastfeeding. This is one reason why Northwell Health encourages well babies to remain in new mothers’ rooms (rooming-in). Certified Lactation Counselors are also available for all new mothers around the clock to provide breastfeeding support.

Continuing Breastfeeding

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants should be fed breast milk exclusively for the first six months of life, and breastfeeding should continue through at least the first year. While approximately three out of four new mothers start out breastfeeding, only 13 percent are exclusively breastfeeding by the time their baby is six months old (source: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development). There are many reasons why women do not follow the suggested recommendations, which include fatigue, lack of support within the family, work responsibilities and caring for older children.

“Many factors can influence a mother’s successful breastfeeding,” says Cynthia. “She requires support from her family, community, employer and medical professionals.”

As new research continues to be published about the benefits of breastfeeding, more is being done to support new mothers in their decision to breastfeed. This includes government policies, such as New York’s recent legislation ordering some city agencies to have breastfeeding rooms available for new mothers. As well, a growing number of employers are adding benefits for breastfeeding women, such as offering dedicated breastfeeding spaces, time for pumping or nursing and refrigerated storage for breastmilk. The benefits for employers who support breastfeeding include greater retention, lower healthcare costs, improved workplace satisfaction and less absenteeism.

With growing acceptance of breastfeeding and more support for women who have made the decision to give their babies the benefits of breast milk, it’s likely that more women will choose to breastfeed. With these positive changes, Northwell Health continues to be dedicated to helping women and their babies achieve the best possible breastfeeding experience.

Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about breastfeeding. Contact the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-KIWH (5494) or womenshealth@northwell.edu to reach a women’s health specialist.