Friday, September 22, 2017


Since I came to the White House, I've gotten two hearing aids, had a colon operation, a prostate operation, skin cancer, and I've been shot ... damn thing is, I've never felt better.”

Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. It is initially confined to the prostate gland. Most types grow slowly and need minimal or no specific treatment. Some are aggressive and spread quickly. If the cancer is confined to the prostate gland and detected early, it has a better chance of successful treatment.

Symptoms include difficulty with urinating, decreased urine voiding, pelvic bone pain, erectile dysfunction, decreased force in the stream of urine, blood in the semen, pelvic discomfort, bone pain pelvis, and erectile dysfunction.
To confirm the diagnosis, a blood sample is drawn from an arm vein to detect PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen). PSA is a biomarker for the presence of prostate cancer. Men with a PSA level between 4 and 10 have about a 1 in 4 chance of having prostate cancer. If the PSA is more than 10, the chance of having prostate cancer is over 50%.
 The evaluation includes a prostate biopsy to collect tissue that may be cancerous. A prostrate tissue biopsy detects the presence of cancer cells.

Factors that increase prostate cancer include:

·        Age. Advancing age.
·        Race. Black men have a greater risk of prostate cancer than do men of other races. In black men, prostate cancer is also more likely to be aggressive or advanced.
·        Family history. Family history is a risk factor. Presence of men in your family who have had prostate cancer increases your risk.       
·        Obesity. Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer may be more likely to have advanced disease that's more difficult to treat.

Complications of prostate cancer and its treatments include:
·        Prostate cancer may spread to nearby organs, such as the bladder. it may affect the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
·        Prostate cancer that spreads to the bones can cause pain and bone fracture.
·        When prostate cancer has spread to other areas of the body, it may respond to treatment and may be controlled. 
·        Both prostate cancer and its treatment can cause urinary incontinence.
·        Erectile dysfunction can result from prostate cancer or its treatment.

Surgery, radiation and hormone therapy are common ways of treating prostate cancer. Surgery is usually the last resort.

Surgery for prostate cancer involves removing the prostate gland (radical prostatectomy), surrounding tissue and lymph nodes. Radical prostatectomy carries a risk of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
Cryosurgery or cryoablation involves freezing tissue to kill cancer cells. During cryosurgery for prostate cancer, small needles are inserted in the prostate using ultrasound images as guidance. A very cold gas is placed in the needles, which causes the surrounding tissue to freeze. A second gas is then placed in the needles to reheat the tissue. The cycles of freezing and thawing kill the cancer cells and some surrounding healthy tissue. Cryosurgery is more frequently used in patients who have failed primary radiation therapy for prostate cancer. 
Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy to remove cancer cells. Prostate cancer radiation therapy can be delivered in two ways external beam radiation and radiation placed inside your body (brachytherapy). Brachytherapy involves placing many rice-sized radioactive seeds in your prostate tissue.
·         The radioactive seeds deliver a low dose of radiation over a long period of time.
·         Radioactive seeds in your prostate using a needle guided by ultrasound images. The implanted seeds stop emitting radiation eventually and don't need to be removed.

Side effects of radiation include painful, frequent or urgent urination, as well as rectal symptoms such as loose stools or pain when passing stools. Erectile dysfunction can occur.
Hormone therapy is a treatment to stop your body from producing the male hormone testosterone. Cutting off the supply of testosterone may cause cancer cells to die or to grow more slowly.
Hormone therapy options include:
·         Medications known as luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LH-RH) agonists prevent the testicles from receiving messages to make testosterone. Drugs typically used in this type of hormone therapy include leuprolide (Lupron, Eligard), goserelin (Zoladex), triptorelin (Trelstar) and histrelin (Vantas).
·         Medications known as anti-androgens prevent testosterone from reaching your cancer cells. Examples include bicalutamide (Casodex), nilutamide (Nilandron) and flutamide.

Hormone therapy is used in men with advanced prostate cancer to shrink cancer and slow the growth of tumors. In men with early-stage prostate cancer, hormone therapy may be used to shrink tumors before radiation therapy, which can increase the likelihood that radiation therapy will be successful....
Side effects of hormone therapy may include erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, loss of bone mass, reduced sex drive and weight gain.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill rapidly growing cells, including cancer cells. Chemotherapy is administered through a vein in your arm, in pill form or both.
Chemotherapy may be a treatment option for men with prostate cancer that has spread to remote body locations. Chemotherapy may also be an option for cancers that don't respond to hormone therapy.
Biological therapy (immunotherapy) uses your body's immune system to fight cancer cells. One type of biological therapy called sipuleucel-T (Provenge) has been developed to treat advanced, recurrent prostate cancer.
This treatment takes some of your own immune cells, genetically engineers them in a laboratory to fight prostate cancer, then injects the cells back into your body through a vein. Some men do respond to this therapy with some improvement in their cancer, but the treatment is very expensive and requires multiple treatments.
In conclusion, prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Usually, prostate cancer grows slowly and is initially confined to the prostate gland, where it might cause serious harm. In most cases. prostate cancer does not require aggressive or immediate treatment, such as a stroke would.  There have to be criteria for removing the prostate gland, such as when you have had pain in the pelvis for years and the cancer cells are invading the bone tissue. This would be a late stage treatment. You can live without a prostate. We do not have the statistics for mortality rate for diagnosed prostate cancer. There are many survivors, such as former president Reagan. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

What is a Hernia?

A. What is a hernia?

An inguinal (in the groin) hernia is a painful groin bulge. The lifetime risk of this condition is twenty-seven percent in men and three percent in women. It is one of the most common surgical procedures in the U.S.

It occurs when tissue, such as a portion of the intestine, protrudes through a weak spot in the lower abdominal muscles, causing a bulge, “hernia sac.” Symptoms include pain and bulging on the right or left groin at the pubic bone. Coughing, standing, and passing a bowel movement are painful.

Bulging is more prominent at the pubic bone. Symptoms are more prevalent with standing, coughing, passing a bowel movement and straining. Pain may radiate to the scrotum. A burning or aching sensation occurs at the bulge. Application of an ice pack could ease pain and swelling. This reduces swelling enough so that the hernia slides inward with direct pressure. Watchful waiting is reasonable if symptoms don’t progress.

B. Cause

Hernias can be the result of a pre-existing weak spot in the groin, known as the “superficial inguinal ring.” Low abdominal wall weakness at the inguinal canal can be present at early childhood. Hernias can develop as the result of straining during bowel movements, strenuous physical activity, chronic coughing, or sneezing. In men, the weak spot is the inguinal (groin) canal, where the spermatic cord enters the scrotum. In women, the canal carries a ligament that helps hold the uterus in place. Hernias may be inheritable. Some hernias have no apparent cause.

C. Surgery is recommended to repair the hernia if is painful or enlarging. Incarcerated hernia is when the patient can’t nudge the hernia bulge back in place. This would suggest a “strangulated hernia.” A strangulated hernia cuts off the blood flow to tissue that is trapped. It could progress to bowel obstruction, which is life-threatening and surgery is necessary.

There are two types of hernia surgery; open and laparoscopic repair. Open repair is done under local anesthesia and sedation. The incision is closed with stitches, staples or surgical glue.

Laparoscopy this minimally invasive procedure, which requires general anesthesia, the surgeon operates through several small incisions in the abdomen. Gas is used to inflate the abdomen to make the internal organs more visible. A small tube equipped with a tiny camera (laparoscope) is inserted into one incision. Guided by the camera, the surgeon inserts tiny instruments through other incisions to repair the hernia using synthetic mesh.

People who have laparoscopic repair might have less discomfort and scarring after surgery and a quicker return to normal activities. Laparoscopy allows the surgeon to avoid scar tissue from an earlier hernia repair, so it might be a good choice for people whose hernias recur after traditional hernia surgery. It also might be a good choice for people with hernias on both sides of the body (bilateral).

D. Prevention
·         Maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor about the best exercise and diet plan for you.
·         Emphasize high-fiber foods. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain fiber that can help prevent constipation and straining.
·         Lift heavy objects carefully or avoid heavy lifting. If you must lift something heavy, always bend from your knees — not your waist.
·         Stop smoking. Besides its role in many serious diseases, smoking often causes a chronic cough that can lead to or aggravate an inguinal hernia.

·         Don't rely on a truss. Wearing a supportive garment designed to keep hernias in place (hernia truss) doesn't correct the problem or help prevent complications. Your doctor might recommend a hernia truss for a short time before surgery to help you feel more comfortable, but the truss isn't a replacement for surgery.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Hip Replacement

Image result for picture of older person reading a manual

Are you suffering from long term hip pain? The resulting difficulty of standing up and climbing stairs can make life miserable.  

Research reveals there are several sources of hip pain. When you are overweight there is additional stress on your joints. This can be compounded by osteonecrosis, an inadequate blood supply to the hip joint, which causes bone thinning and may ultimately collapse the bone. Dead bone tissue generates pain.  Arthritic damage is probably the most common reason to need hip replacement.  Arthritis degrades hip cartilage. The source of hip, pain in this case, is joint inflammation.

Initially, people try home exercises and physical therapy to improve balance and function. Over the counter medicines include Ben Gay, Capasaicin and Zostrix can help with pain management. More intense pain can be alleviated with prescription pain medicines. Weight reduction, over time, improves mobility. Holistic therapy may simply include a weight loss of 20 – 30 lbs.

Hip Surgery as a Solution

You might consider hip replacement when you're experiencing pain that persists despite home exercises and physical therapy. Artificial hip joints have a polished metal or ceramic ball that fits into a cup liner of hard plastic. Some prostheses use a metal cup liner, which may last longer (see illustration). If function doesn’t improve, total hip arthroplasty (touching up the bone) would be the next step. The primary goals of hip surgery are to increase mobility and function.

Post-op Recovery

Pain control is highest in the hierarchy of importance. You want to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is restorative both physically and mentally.
The operated hip should not be flexed more than ninety degrees to prevent damage to the hardware. Once again, mobility initiates healing.

Post-operative physical therapy is crucial for improving mobility and balance. Recovery starts with simply using a wheelchair. The next step is incorporating a non-weight-bearing exercise called pool-walking. It is what it sounds like, simply walking in a pool against the water’s gentle resistance. This has a twofold effect. You increase blood flow to the hip, which speeds up healing; at the same time retraining muscles. Pool-walking also increases endorphins, hormones that give you a feel good sensation despite the pain of recovery. Gradual mobilization hastens progress and prevents blood clots.

Complications your physician will discuss with you might include post-operative infection, loosening of the prosthesis, blood clots, and infection.

How do you know hip surgery has taken effect? When you are progressively improving and the pain is gradually diminishing, then you are on the track to recovery. Are you exercising regularly? Go on-line to find locations in your area for a fitness program. ? Weight reduction, walking, stretching, and fitness classes are prescribed.
Older people may procrastinate. They may dread failure. Reassurance and motivation go a long way. We all want to get things done quickly. There are days you may not be able to summon up the energy for recovery; give yourself some grace to rest. Rest is an important part of recovery as well. Surround yourself with people in your life who are encouragers. A hopeful outlook and having a purpose in life will do a great deal in moving towards more pain-free mobility.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Home Safety for Seniors

By Col. Ret Clement Hanson

Home Safety for Seniors: Old Folks at Home
During our military years, all of us have seen a few too many houses! You have been retired in Colorado for many years and want to put off another move for a long as possible.  Before you suffer a broken bone, make some minor fixes to your house which means fewer changes for you down the road. Now is the time to make life easier for the future and maybe save a painful and long recovery from a broken bone.
Older adults compose 11% of the population, but account for 23% of accidental deaths. Consider that in this population decreased reaction times, balance, hearing, and smelling abilities are decreasing even before we are aware and willing to admit it. Eyesight, depth-perception and peripheral vision are important to avoid a misstep. Increased use of prescriptions is more likely to cause dizziness and forgetfulness.
Last month, I discussed driving adjustments for older adults. This month is an article about accidents in the home, particularly falls. In the next months, I will give information about fire hazards and hazardous products commonly in the home.
Minor improvements will be mentioned first, followed by more extensive remodeling projects. Relatively easy and inexpensive fixes will be listed for the bathroom first, because that is the room where most accidents occur.
·         Install raised toilet seats.
·         Grab bars by the toilet, in the shower and tub areas.
·         Shower stool.
·         Mixer valve to avoid sudden hot and cold water.
·         Non-slip rugs
·         Lower the water heater temperature to 120 degrees to prevent burns
·         Do not store clutter on the stairs.
·         Extra railings
·         Improve lighting
·         Mark the edges of the highest and lowest step with bright-colored tape.
·         Good lighting
·         Use non-slide mats, no decorative rugs that slip.
·         Remove extension cords from traffic areas.
·         Place stools where you change shoes. Do not wear wet shoes into the house.
·         Wear good shoes with no loose shoe strings.
·         If you must use a ladder or step stool, make sure it is very sturdy. If you feel you must do these chores, do not hurry, be certain you are not tending to light-headedness due to illness, medicines, OR ALCOHOL. If your spouse says, “Don’t do it,” listen.

More Extensive Home Improvements:
·         Install new fire and carbon monoxide alarms with a ten-year life span. Then you do not have to think about getting on a ladder every time a fire alarm beeps. Have an electrician install them now, and give it no more thought for ten years!
·         Have your home security in top shape. Many possibilities to consider as technology improves. Video doorbells allow you to answer the door with your phone, whether you are home or not. Motion detector lights outside, both for your safety at night and to discourage intruders. Tell your regular visitors to call you before they come.
·         Have cellphones that you know how to operate for emergencies. Avoid having to rush to a telephone or the door when you can fall in the rush. Set up a MedAlert system.
·         Replace round door knobs with lever-type handles. Arthritic hands have a hard time with round knobs. Service dogs can open lever knobs, of course your cat can too!
·         Non-slip floor surfaces, especially where feet may be wet as in bathrooms and by outside doors.
·         Ramp at an exterior door.
·         Lifts at the stairs. Remodel to build a downstairs bedroom.
·         Make improvements that allow wheelchair or scooter access. Widen the interior doors to 36 inches wide.
·         Electric stoves instead of natural gas. This will remedy natural gas flooding and open flames.
·         Walk-in bathtub.
·         Have bathroom doors swing to outside the room instead of inside. If a person falls inside, they often block the bathroom door from opening, which makes it difficult for someone to enter the bathroom.

Keep in Mind: Any fall is a predictor of future falls. Two-thirds of folks who have fallen, will fall again within 6 months. The older the person, the more severe the falls and more likely to experience a broken bone. Many of those who fall will never return to their former functionality, and many will die from complications from falls.

Elders are often reluctant to admit to a fall for fear their activities will be curtailed. Modify your surroundings before something happens and have another pair of eyes look at your environment for hazards you have long grown used to and do not notice. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Older Drivers Driving!
Let’s look at some driving statistics. Drivers over the age of sixty have the highest incidence of fatalities. However, ninety percent of crashes are preventable. Thirty percent of fatal crashes occur in people sixty-five and older. Those accidents mostly occur in intersections. I recently experienced my first accident in forty-five years. It was scary and I don’t want to repeat it. Yes, it occurred at an intersection and it should have been prevented. I’m over sixty-five. It was my fault.  Thank goodness, there were no injuries. The incident compelled me to reassess my driving skills.

On the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) website, there is an “older driver’s review course” that I found helpful. Check it out. The cost is $19.95 for AARP members. The entire program includes four hours of interactive instruction that you can complete in up to sixty days. As you work through the course,   your computer will remember where you left off. Take it at your convenience. The instruction is designed for older learners, and it’s entertaining. Select, “Colorado” from the menu. A few things have changed since you learned how to drive in your dad’s 1955 stick shift on rural roads.

I won’t insult your intelligence by listing all Colorado driving rules. You know the importance of seat belts. Don’t drive and drink. Hey, wait! We didn’t always have those laws! Your best girl used to slide across the front seat to be close to you on dates.  No more! Grand-kids must sit in the back seat in specially designed seats.

Do you have the habit of swinging your right arm over the passenger seat when you brake suddenly? This was to restrain and hold in place the kid without a seatbelt in a seat that folds over to allow passengers to get into the back seat. We have already unlearned old habits. Let's learn new habits.

You may have some health issue to take into consideration now. Know your prescription drugs and how they may affect your response time. You may have passed your last eye exam, but don’t assume that you see like an eighteen-year-old. Compensate for a decrease in your depth and peripheral vision. When was your last vision exam? Scan from left to right constantly. Don’t stare blankly straight ahead.

If night driving bothers you, be prudent and admit your weaknesses. If glare from rain, ice, and snow confuse you, postpone the trip. You are not as quick with your feet anymore. Reaction time has slowed, so increase your following distance. Three seconds should pass between when the vehicle in front of you passes a stationary object, and when you pass it.
You fatigue more quickly during long trips. Don’t plan long stretches of driving within a day. Stop for breaks and coffee. The trip you used to take in a day may now require two days. Do I need to remind you that alcohol consumption while driving is deadly? Even more so with older drivers. Select a designated driver.

Turn down the radio as well as your noisy passengers. Drive with your lights on during the day and night. Consider a driver's refresher course for seniors.

Our cars and technologies have changed a great deal. The AARP course can bring you up to date. Remember when an airbag was someone who talked too much?Anti-lock brakes require a firm touch, not pumping. They require practice. You will appreciate skidding straight instead of doing 360s.  Adjust your mirrors. Use them and know how to adjust them. Know your “blind spots.”

GPS, smartphones, and the Garmin are great for finding your way. Learn how to use them and practice while you are a passenger. Your grandkids can help you with that. Technology, of course, is not infallible in some high density or remote areas. Keep a paper map in your car. Your grandkids will be impressed you can read one.  Always have a charger in your car for your cell phone.  

Most accidents involving older drivers occur when making a left turn. Pay attention to the green and red arrows at stoplights. No green arrow? Do not turn left until there is a sufficient break in the traffic. Older drivers are most often stopped for failure to yield the right-of-way. Know who must yield and who can go.

In our lifetimes, we have learned to drive in five lanes of traffic in each direction and intersections stacked four bridges high, turning right to turn left. Wow! All of this can be confusing. If this bothers you, avoid congested roads during rush hours. Practice driving during the slow part of the day with a more experienced driver. Otherwise, fly to Los Angeles and don’t drive. Two sets of eyes are better than one if you are not arguing with the other set of eyes. Consider stopping at a rest area. Pull over, get out, stretch, settle your differences, and do some pushups. The AARP website contains information on rules of the road, sign interpretation, crash reporting, and vehicle maintenance. Check it out.

Finally, hope is in sight. Self-driving cars are not far in the future!

Source: AARP.ORG website. In addition, contact call AARP 1-800-350-7025.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

How to Avoid Spreading Disease.
Do no spit.
Do not put fingers in the mouth unnecessarily.
Do not pick the nose or wipe it on the hands or sleeves.
Do not put pencils in the mouth.
Do not put anything in the mouth without a good reason, and never when it has been in another’s mouth.
Do not use a common drinking cup.  Use your own.
Never cough or sneeze into the air or in another person’s face. Use a handkerchief.
If the hands become soiled with saliva or nasal secretion, wash them.
If you use another’s tobacco pouch, do not close it with your teeth.

Source: Myers,P., 1994, Disease Prevention:  U.S. Army Health services Command (Prov), Preventive Medicine Division, Medical War Manual, Sanitation for Medical Officers, by Edward Vedder MD. Published by Lea and Febiger, 1917.