The recent commercial promoting screening for hepatitis C in the Baby Boomers has scared many of my patients and their friends. Scare tactics usually work for a desired action, but is this really necessary? I would argue it is not.
Hepatitis C is a virus that is transmitted by blood exposure. It is estimated that almost 3.2 million people in the United States have the virus.
The hepatitis C virus cancause liver damage, can cause cancer, and can cause death because of the liver damage or cancer. You can also have the virus and never develop symptoms.
Risks for acquiring hepatitis C:
tattoos, blood transfusions, organ recipients, accidental needle sticks, IV drug use, and sexual intercourse
Pharmaceutical companies that have a vested interest in the drugs used to treat hepatitis C have a lot to profit with increased diagnosis. With increased screening, we get increased diagnosis which leads to increased usage of medications which leads to huge monetary gains for the pharmaceutical companies. While we do not include hepatitis testing in our routine labs we do recommend annual evaluation of liver enzymes which indirectly looks for the presence of hepatitis C.
And while I have certainly lost patients from a variety of disease processes, I have never had a patient die from hepatitis C…don’t be scared regarding this issue, talk to your doctor.
So it’s summertime right? …time for the beach, lake, swimming pool, water park, and baseball games. You pack up all your gear and head out to have some fun in the sun. And sometimes it’s hard to remember to pack the sunscreen, apply it, not to mention reapplying it all-day-long. Then there’s that nice tan glow we all love to have in the summer. But…..
“More than 3.5 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed in the US each year, and more than 73,000 cases of melanoma are expected to be diagnosed this year.”
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, melanoma being the most deadly form. In fact, an estimated 9,940 people will die of melanoma in 2015. Prevention is obviously key when it comes to skin cancer. Daily use of a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher reduces your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 40 percent and melanoma by 50 percent.
It’s an easy thing to over-look…I mean it’s the sun, we go outside, we go inside, it’s our world, and therefore easy to forget. But trust me, for those of you that have been blessed to not have gone through it in your life, there’s nothing scarier than hearing that your best friend, your 36 year old sister, has been diagnosed with Stage II Melanoma. And there’s no time that is longer or goes by slower than the time it takes for lymph node biopsy results to come back. There’s no exposure, from the sun or tanning bed that is “better” for you or less harmful than the other. Sunless or “spray tan” is a good option to consider if you feel like you need some color or that summertime glow.
Another important step is having annual skin checks, as well as watching for any changes to existing or new moles on your body. This one, to me, is a no-brainer. Skin cancer is the one form of cancer that allows you to see your tumor…right there, in plain sight, on the outside of your body. The woman with the lump deep in her breast, guy with a tumor on his kidney or deep in his brain, or child with cancer in their bone marrow didn’t have that chance. It was hidden inside, not able to be seen, causing harm, just waiting to be found. So take advantage of the chance to have this particular cancer identified and stopped in its tracks as soon as possible.
“Each year there are more combined incidences of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, and colon.”
There are some key characteristics, known as the ABCDEs of skin cancer, that you can look for to help identify a potentially dangerous mole.
So get outside this summer and have a blast enjoying this time of year and all the activities that go along with it! Just remember to drink plenty of water and make sure to wear sunscreen to protect yourself from the harm that our sun’s rays can cause….and hey, take heart in knowing that you’re preventing all those future wrinkles.