October 2013
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October 2013 posts

Breast cancer awareness is about information, not a color

In recent years, the colors of October seem to have changed from red, orange, and gold to pink, pink and more pink. I have always loved pink, well before becoming a breast cancer surgeon, but like many of us, I find the pink of October overwhelming, especially at this point in the month.

I appreciate and endorse the continued focus on breast cancer, but often the important information is drowned out by the rah-rah-rah of the awareness campaigns. Many women (and men) are “aware” of breast cancer, but never truly become aware of what it really is, what it really means, until they find themselves dealing with the cold terror of a palpable mass or a call-back after mammogram. They need information, not just pink blenders. 

Breast cancer is ...

Cornea Surgeon at Swedish Medical Center Successfully Implants FDA-Approved Telescope for Macular Degeneration

SEATTLE – October 28, 2013 – Dr. Thomas Gillette, cornea surgeon at Swedish Medical Center and Eye Associates Northwest, P.C. in Seattle, Wash. successfully implanted a tiny telescope into the eye of an end-stage macular degeneration (AMD) patient. The patient, 76-year-old Charles DePoe, had his surgery in October 2012 at Swedish. DePoe is a resident of Kennewick, Wash. and is the first and only in the state to have received the telescope implant. DePoe, who had lost nearly all of his central vision, set a goal with his surgeon, Dr. Gillette, for the implant. He wished to gain enough of his central vision back to once again recognize his wife’s face and read the newspaper. 

“We know the impact the telescope technology can have on a patient’s life. We are excited to finally be able to offer this technology on a broader basis and to be one of the first provider teams in the Pacific Northwest to help patients improve their vision and achieve a greater quality of life,” says Dr. Gillette. “More than 15 million Americans are affected by some form of AMD, and it is the leading cause of blindness in older Americans.”

How you can get the most out of your office visit

To some, when a possible problem gets to the point where we decide to “have it looked at,” there are many questions that come up. If you are like me, I have several questions to ask. However, by the time the check in happens and all the tests are performed, I forget most of my questions. Or, sometimes, I feel like there is no more time to have them answered. Often times I make up excuses for why I didn’t ask. My frequent one is that they, or I, didn’t have the time.

Time may be limited sometimes, but asking the right questions really helps. Some of the best answers you get about your hearing come from very simple questions that you wrote down ahead of time (so nobody forgets). I have listed a few below to help us all make sure you get the answers you want, at the time you want them.

Therapy and rehab for stroke survivors

Stroke survivors often encounter physical, cognitive or emotional challenges after their stroke. Rehab helps stroke survivors relearn skills that are lost when part of the brain is damaged.  Participating in physical or occupational therapy can be extremely beneficial in assisting patients and their families in the recovery process.

Physical therapists commonly examine, evaluate, and treat stroke patients, facilitating progress towards restoring function, reducing pain, and preventing further injuries or complications.  This therapy is a form of exercise treatment to help with mobility, strength and general function based upon the individual’s needs.

Occupational therapists focus on occupations or activities are meaningful to the individual. They develop individualized care plans that may include adaptations for how to perform tasks, changes to the survivor’s surroundings, or helping individuals to alter their own behaviors.  These plans are designed to ...

Gut Microbiome: Studying the links between people, bacteria, and MS

Our bodies are made of billions of cells. However, the cells in our bodies are far outnumbered by the bacteria that cover our skin and inhabit our gut. These bacteria are now increasingly recognized to have an important role in maintaining our health. For example, skin bacteria help protect us from more dangerous bacteria that could invade us. Gut bacteria help digest our food. There are suggestions that changes in these bacteria, particularly those in the gut, might play a role in several diseases.

Drs. Fouke, Srinivasan named among ‘30 Women in Spine and Neurosurgery to Know’

Sarah Jost Fouke, M.D., a Swedish neurosurgeon practicing out of the Swedish Cherry Hill, Issaquah and Redmond campuses, and Swedish-affiliated physician Jayashree Srinivasan, M.D., of  Neurosurgical Consultants in Seattle, have been named among the nation’s “30 Women in Spine and Neurosurgery to Know” by Becker’s Spine Review.

The list comprises women who are currently practicing orthopedic spine and neurospine surgery, many of whom have leadership roles within their organizations, participate in research and earned high recognition among their colleagues for their contributions to the field.

Read about Drs. Fouke and Srinivasan’s recognition on the Becker’s Spine website.

Cancer control and survivorship

I recently attended the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) meeting, a consortium of research institutions doing clinical trials on cancer. The conference highlighted how new research will remarkably affect cancer survivorship, quality of life (QOL), integrative care and our ability to predict and provide needed services more accurately and with greater cost effectiveness for cancer survivors. The tools for implementing cancer control are evolving quickly.

Here are some highlights from the meeting:

  • Biomarkers, which are any human characteristics that are measurable including everything from gene expression (or over-expression) to pain surveys, can potentially predict long term survival as well as the specific services that will most benefit patients.
  • Symptoms that are increasingly predictable by biomarker assays include fatigue, insomnia, pain, anorexia, nausea, depression and others. This means that we will soon be able to better predict the patients who will be affected by these problems and deliver interventions much earlier and more effectively.
  • Patient satisfaction is frequently not related to treatment outcome. Factors such as QOL and survivorship are important.
  • Lung cancer patients suffer inordinately high, long-term QOL deficits. Many of these respond well to interventions but interventions are frequently not provided to patients with lung cancer.
  • Symptom clusters ...
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