A natural pregnancy is in the works for cancer patients

Mar 27, 2017 8

Women who suffer from cancer will be able to have a natural pregnancy, thanks to a groundbreaking procedure that could be regularly performed in New York for the first time, The Post has learned.

Fertility doctor George Kofinas has submitted a plan to the state Health Department to open a reproductive surgery center downtown at 65 Broadway specializing in ovarian-tissue harvesting and transplantation.

Chemotherapy causes ovarian damage, and women who undergo the treatment are typically left unable to get pregnant.

But under the procedure — akin to a skin graft — a slice of a woman’s ovarian tissue that contains eggs is removed before chemo and stored and frozen.

When a woman is recovered from chemo and cancer free, the tissue is transplanted back into her ovary. Her reproductive function is restored, and she can have a natural pregnancy without in-vitro fertilization/egg donations.

“The demand for this service is projected to be very high. We have an ever-growing number of cancer survivors that come to us now and their ovaries have been completely destroyed by chemotherapy and other kinds of treatment and we can’t help them unless we use donor eggs,” Kofinas said in a March 9 presentation to a Health Department review panel.

“Providing these people with the service of storing their ovarian tissue for the time they become reproductively active is a unique service which we think will serve well in the metropolitan area, the state and the country.”

The only place in the US where the procedure has been frequently performed is the Infertility Center of St. Louis in Missouri, headed by Dr. Sherman Silber.

Click for more from The New York Post.

Boston doctor makes rounds caring for city's homeless

Mar 27, 2017 7

A Boston doctor who turned down an oncology fellowship to care for the city’s homeless turned the one-year position into a 32-year career, and is even referred to as “Jesus” by some of his patients. Dr. Jim O’Connell, who is the head of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, treats his patients on park benches, under bridges or wherever else they call home, CBS News reported.

“I feel like I’m a country doctor in the middle of the city, you know?” O’Connell told CBS News.

O’Connell and his team provide everything from stitches to help finding a place in a temporary shelter for patients who require more care, the news outlet reported. He said his morning rounds include about 20 patients, while his team counts around 700 regulars.

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“You start to realize, ‘You know what, I’m just a doctor,’” O’Connell told CBS News. “And what I can do is I can get to know you and ease your suffering, just as I would an oncologist. You could not find a more grateful population.”

O’Connell’s program includes a main shelter, McInnis House, where patients can stay for an extended period of time for treatment, CBS News reported.

“He’s like Jesus,” an unidentified patient told the news outlet. 

Dog saves four-legged pal in need of blood transfusion

Mar 27, 2017 11

A pup in the U.K. is living up to the title of “good dog” after helping to save the life of another four-legged pooch that needed an emergency blood transfusion. Gemma, a Mastiff cross who greets visitors at Sutterton Veterinary Hospital, donated blood via her jugular vein for Ni Ni, an 11-year-old Daschund, according to Lincolnshire Reporter.

“Gemma was a very good patient and layed[SIC] still throughout the donation, she then had a bandage placed securely around her neck for 20 minutes and enjoyed a nice bowl of food!” South Lincs Vet Group LTD posted on March 12.

“Ni Ni received intensive care and monitoring, he accepted Gemma’s blood well with no issues!” the post read.

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According to the report, Ni Ni remains on medication but his blood count has dramatically improved.

“We are all so pleased for Ni Ni and very proud of Gemma,” the veterinary group posted on Facebook. 

Half-marathon heroes carry runner to finish line

Mar 27, 2017 11

Thousands of runners from all over the country hit the streets of our city for the Philadelphia Love Run Half-Marathon, but it was two locals who became the male and female winners.

Darryl Brown of Elkins Park, Pa., finished first, according to organizers. He completed the 13.1 miles in 1 hour, 11 minutes, and 18 seconds. That means his pace was 5 minutes and 26 seconds per mile. Click here to watch his finish.

The first female winner was Siobhan O’Connor of Philadelphia. She finished in 1 hour and 24 minutes, and either 18 or 19 seconds, and her pace was 6 minutes and 25 seconds per mile. Click here to watch her finish.

The race, in its fourth year, started Sunday morning at the Art Museum circle. Then, runners took a different route than in the past.

Race organizers say running more in Center City and fewer of the hills in Fairmount Park would make for a faster, more fun course.

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Runners started south to Market Street, then around the north side of City Hall to 6th Street. That’s where they turned north and went back west on Arch Street. Then, the runners they went up the Ben Franklin Parkway and MLK Drive along the Schuylkill River, before returning to finish at the Art Museum.

FOX 29 News caught a special moment. A young woman was struggling to finish the monster race and clearly looked fatigued. That’s when two men sacrificed their own time to help move her along. Then, a third man picked her up and carried her to the finish line. Who said running marathons or half-marathons can’t be a team sport?

We also saw an unusual moment. It’s hard enough to finish a half-marathon. Runners spend lots of time preparing with diet and dress. But what about this one who did the whole 13.1 miles in a T-Rex outfit?

Organizers said in the three years before Sunday’s race, CGI Racing and the Love Run Philadelphia Half Marathon have donated more than $175,000 to local charities.

Click for more from Fox 29.

Oklahoma company recalls 466 tons of breaded chicken product

Mar 27, 2017 10

An Oklahoma food company is recalling more than 466 tons (422 metric tons) of breaded chicken because of possible metal in the food.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday that OK Food, Inc. is recalling 933,272 (423,329 kilograms) pounds of the food shipped nationwide that was produced between Dec. 19, 2016, and March 7, 2017, and includes the number “P-7092” inside the USDA inspection mark.

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The USDA said in a news release that contamination came from metal conveyor belts and was discovered Tuesday. An agency spokesman did not immediately return a phone call for further comment.

The agency says there have been no confirmed reports of injury, but consumers should either throw the product away or return it to the place of purchase.

Couple expecting 2 baby boys, 3 weeks apart

Mar 27, 2017 3

When celebrity makeup artist Toby Fleischman and her partner decided to start a family, it made sense Fleischman would try to conceive first. Fleischman, now 41, was seven years older than her wife, Lindsay Lanciault.

But after Fleischman had trouble conceiving, Lanciault, a speech pathologist, began trying, too. And now, to their great surprise, the LA couple, married for three years, are both expecting, Redbook reports.

Their boys—”twinblings”—are due this summer only three weeks apart. The couple’s journey was a “definitely surreal experience,” Fleischman tells the Huffington Post. “Everyone always says they want to get pregnant with their best friend and I just happened to be lucky enough to be married to mine,” Fleischman wrote on Instagram in a post with a photo of their twin bumps—and Shih Tzu, Lemon—that has gotten more than 2,300 likes.

Despite being “elated” now, the journey took a toll on the couple’s relationship. After Fleischman began trying to get pregnant in August 2015, she suffered a miscarriage and then medical complications arose.

“It was probably the most stressful thing,” Lanciault tells PopSugar. “We were at odds.” They got through it with help from an acupuncturist who helped them work through their wild emotions.

Fleischman changed to a diet said to promote fertility, and kept going. She got the news she was pregnant just as Lanciault was beginning her efforts to conceive in November.

Each used artificial insemination, performed at home, and sperm donated by a “dear friend” who grew up with Lanciault. “We both joked though, this WOULD be the time Lindsay gets pregnant,” Fleischman tells HuffPo.

“And that’s exactly what happened.” (This mom beat cancer while pregnant, died a day after birth.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Couple Expecting 2 Baby Boys, 3 Weeks Apart

Learning to talk about death and dying should start early in doctors’ careers

Mar 27, 2017 1

When I started medical school, I fully expected to learn how the nervous system works, why heart attacks happen and what to do to stop them, and how the immune system sometimes turns against the body and causes autoimmune diseases. One of the things I needed to learn but didn’t was how to talk with people about death and dying.

To fill that gap, I enrolled in a course at Harvard Medical School on communication strategies during end-of-life care. It was designed to help budding physicians understand how spirituality, end-of-life care, and medicine interact. What I learned surprised me.

I found out that I wasn’t alone in feeling that I was ill-prepared for having effective end-of-life conversations. Physicians in general tend to be particularly limited in their ability to discuss issues such as how long patients will survive, what dying is like, or whether spirituality plays a role in their patients’ last moments.

At first glance, physicians’ poor understanding of death and the process of dying is baffling, since they are supposed to be custodians of health across the lifespan. Look deeper, though, and it may reflect less the attitudes of physicians themselves and more the system that nurtures them. After all, we train vigorously on how to delay the onset of death, and are judged on how well we do that, but many of us get little training on how to confront death.

Read more: A lesson on life’s end: How one college class is rethinking doctor training

At one of the seminars that are part of the course, a young man was asked about how he felt during the final days of his mother’s struggle with cancer. “Pain is not suffering if it has a meaning; if it doesn’t, pain and suffering are the same thing,” he said.

That juxtaposition of pain and suffering struck me as an important reminder of the vital role physician communication plays from a patient’s point of view. I realized that a transparent communication strategy can ease suffering and make pain more bearable.

In the process of my coursework, I also realized that significant communication barriers exist between physicians and patients to discussing end-of-life care. When physicians aren’t trained about how to approach patients and their families regarding end-of-life decisions, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to provide the care they want and need.

In one survey, nearly half of the medical students and residents who responded reported being underprepared to address patient concerns and fears at the end of life. About the same percentage said that “dying patients were not considered good teaching cases.” In other words, patients on palliative care with no need of further interventions were seen as offering little in the way of imparting clinical knowledge — even though they might have been wonderful cases for learning more about death and dying.

It’s still unclear whether such limitations arise from personal difficulty talking about this sensitive topic, an inadequate medical curriculum, or a lack of training during residency on how to communicate with terminally ill patients.

When a robust rapport between patient and physician is lacking, or when a physician hasn’t taken enough time to lay out all the options, hospitals tend to follow the “standard” protocol: patients — often at the insistence of family members — are connected to several intravenous lines and an intubation tube, or put on life-support machines, all because the patient or the family never had a clear conversation with the medical team about the severity of the disease and its progression.

Read more: Why are doctors so bad at telling patients they’re dying?

That’s not how physicians prefer to die. In a famous essay, an experienced physician wrote that most doctors would prefer to die at home, with less aggressive care than most people receive at the ends of their lives. They understand that such efforts are often futile and take away from the precious time that could be spent in the company of family and friends.

Intensive management of patients with poor prognosis can result in severe emotional damage to patients and their family members. They also have significant policy implications: On average, 25 percent of Medicare payments go to patients in the last year of life, with one-third of that spent in the last month, often on clinical services with negligible benefits.

Physicians certainly share some of the blame for these gaps in communication. But we need to be aware of the role health care systems play in shaping end-of-life interactions. Over-treatment is often encouraged, and with little guidance or feedback on how to navigate end-of-life care, physicians can feel vulnerable to malpractice lawsuits. Due to ever-changing regulations, most interns, residents, and attending physicians are forced to spend more and more time typing into their patients’ electronic health records and less time sitting with their patients, talking with them and understanding what they want and need at the ends of their lives. The issue of resource allocation may also play a role. Medical centers often suffer from a shortage of physicians, and struggle to balance comprehensive teaching with quality patient care.

One way of addressing these deficiencies is to incorporate into the medical school curriculum required courses in which students are provided space and time to reflect upon the limitations they face when engaging with patients with terminal diseases. Some schools have already started this process, albeit as elective courses. Senior physicians also need to play more active roles as mentors, guiding younger doctors on how to approach these complicated situations.

In a book written as he was dying from lung cancer, Dr. Paul Kalanithi said this: “Doctors invade the body in every way imaginable. They see people at their most vulnerable, their most sacred, their most private.”

Physicians have a responsibility to initiate and maintain an open channel of communication with each patient, understand and address the values that he or she holds dear, and have talk frankly about the prognosis of his or her disease. If they lack the skills to talk openly about dying and death, one of the most sacred and private transitions, they do their patients a disservice and possibly prevent them from receiving the best possible end-of-life care.

Junaid Nabi, MD, is a physician, non-profit executive, and medical journalist currently pursuing a master’s degree in public health in the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where he is also a 2016-2017 writing fellow in the Voices in Leadership program.

Breast implants linked to cancer: How does it happen?

Mar 27, 2017 12

Women with breast implants are at increased risk of developing a rare type of cancer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said. But how do these implants increase the risk of cancer?

On Tuesday (March 21), the FDA said that, in light of new data, the agency now recognizes that a rare type of cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) can develop after a person receives breast implants. ALCL is not breast cancer; rather, it is a type of lymphoma , which is a cancer of immune system cells, the FDA said in a statement. In the cases that were reported to the FDA, the cancer typically occurred in the scar tissue around the implant, the agency said. So the cancer occurs in the immune system cells around the breast implant, but not in the breast tissue cells themselves.

From June 2010 to Feb. 1, 2017, the agency received more than 350 reports of this cancer linked to breast implants, including nine cases of patients who died from the cancer. Some of the women in these reports were diagnosed with the cancer as early as 1996.

Still, the risk of this cancer is low; one study from the Netherlands estimated that there were about one to three cases of ALCL per 1 million women with implants per year. In the United States, about one in 500,000 women is diagnosed with ALCL each year, although the incidence of this cancer specifically among U.S. women with breast implants is not known, according to the FDA.

“All of the information to date suggests that women with breast implants have a very low but increased risk of developing ALCL compared to women who do not have breast implants,” the FDA said. [ 7 Plastic Surgery Myths Revealed ]

Exactly how breast implants might cause cancer is not known. But studies have suggested that chronic inflammation — which is considered a precursor of many cancers — may play a role in these cancers, said a 2016 paper published in Aesthetic Surgery Journal . Some studies have found markers of chronic inflammation in the scar tissue around breast implants, suggesting that an immune response to the implants might trigger ALCL, the paper said.

Another idea is that the bacteria that colonize the area around the implant might trigger an immune response that, in turn, increases cancer risk. A 2016 study examined the community of bacteria around tumor samples in people with ALCL that was linked to breast implants. The study found that these bacteria were significantly different from the community of bacteria around samples from people with breast implants who did not develop cancer.

Studies have also found that ALCL occurs more commonly in women who receive breast implants that have a textured surface, compared to people who receive implants that have a smooth surface. Of the 231 reports of this cancer that the FDA received that included information about the implants’ surface, 203 cases involved textured implants, while 28 involved smooth implants, the FDA said.

It’s not clear why the risk of this cancer would be higher for those who get textured implants, but the body appears to react differently to textured implants than to smooth ones, The New York Times reported .

The median time that elapsed between the implant surgery and the cancer diagnosis was seven years, but in at least one case, it was 40 years, the FDA report said. Women who developed the cancer ranged in age from 25 to 91, the report said.

The FDA said that people who are considering getting breast implants should talk with their doctors about the benefits and risks of textured implants versus smooth implants. People who already have breast implants should continue to see their doctors for follow-up care as they otherwise would, the FDA said.

The agency stressed that this cancer is rare, and so removing breast implants in people who don’t have symptoms related to ALCL is not recommended. Patients should contact their doctors if they notice pain, swelling, or any changes in or around their breast implants, the FDA said. Many cases of this cancer resolve after removal of the implant and the tissue surrounding it, according to a 2014 paper in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Original article on Live Science .

Why other senses may be heightened in blind people

Mar 27, 2017 10

People who are blind really do have enhanced abilities in their other senses, according to a new, small study. The research used detailed brain scans to compare the brains of people who were blind to the brains of people who were not blind.

The study involved people who were either born blind or became blind before age 3. The scans showed that these individuals had heightened senses of hearing, smell and touch compared to the people in the study who were not blind.

In addition, the scans revealed that people who are blind also experienced enhancements in other areas, including in their memory and language abilities, according to the study, published today (March 22) in the journal PLOS ONE .

Such brain changes arise because the brain has a “plastic” quality, meaning that it can make new connections among neurons, the study said. [ 10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Brain ]

“Even in the case of being profoundly blind, the brain rewires itself in a manner to use the information at its disposal so that it can interact with the environment in a more effective manner,” senior study author Dr. Lotfi Merabet, the director of the Laboratory for Visual Neuroplasticity at Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear, said in a statement .

The findings suggest that “there is tremendous potential for the brain to adapt,” Merabet said.

In the study, the researchers performed brain scans on 12 people who were blind and 16 people who were not blind. All of the individuals in the study who were blind were “highly independent travelers, employed, college-educated and experienced Braille readers,” the researchers noted.

Analyzing the brain scans, the researchers found that there were “extensive morphological, structural and functional” differences in the brains of the people in the study who were blind compared to the brains of the people who were not blind.

“We observed significant changes not only in the occipital cortex (where vision is processed), but also areas implicated in memory, language processing and sensory motor functions,” lead study author Corinna Bauer, a scientist at the same institution, said in a statement.

Some of these changes were related to connections in the brain, the scientists found.

For example, the researchers found differences in “white matter connections and functional connections” in the people who were blind compared with those who weren’t, Bauer told Live Science. White matter connections are the physical “highways” within the brain through which information flows; functional connections can be thought of as how well brain regions communicate with one another, Bauer said.

The people who were blind had fewer connections between the visual parts of the brain and other areas of the brain,” compared with the people who were not blind, Bauer said.

But “there are also areas of the brain, associated with other senses, that are more interconnected,” such as areas involved with language and auditory processing, she said. By strengthening the connections among these areas, it appears that brain may be compensating for blindness, she said.

Originally published on Live Science .

'UroLift' offering patients with enlarged prostate quick relief

Mar 26, 2017 23

With more than 40 million men dealing with an enlarged prostate (BPH), chances are either you or someone you know is experiencing the frequent urge to go to the bathroom or slowed urinary flow. For 69-year-old Stephen Goldman, he’s been living with the symptoms for the past 30 years.

“I’m driving the car and I have to go the bathroom, and, where are you going to go?” Goldman told Fox News. “After a while, you get used to it. It’s like anything else. It’s the norm so I figured if I have to go every half hour, every hour, that’s the way.”

Dr. Riccardo Ricciardi Jr., a urologist at Advanced Urology of New York, said the chances of a patient developing BPH depends on his genetics and ageing.

“The prostate is a gland that surrounds the urethra,” Ricciardi told Fox News. “And as men get older, the gland gets enlarged, and it squeezes on that tube so it restricts the flow of urine out of the bladder.”

Up until recently, treatment options included medication and surgery that often left patients dealing with side effects, including sexual issues. But now, patients are being offered a non-surgical, minimally invasive option called “UroLift,” which boasts a 90 percent success rate and can be conducted without general anesthesia.

“The way it works is small titanium implants are placed in the prostate to hold the obstructing tissue away from the urethra to relieve the obstruction,” Ricciardi said.

Patients may experience pelvic discomfort or blood in the urine for a few days post-procedure, but can return to regular activities within 48 hours. For Goldman, the procedure was life changing.

“I’m not afraid to drink water, I’m not afraid to have a cup of coffee,” he said. “I don’t have to run to the bathroom every 20 minutes to an hour, I can hold it three hours, four hours, if I had to hold it six hours I could.”

Data dating back five years on the procedure shows about 10 percent of patients may need to have implants replaced. UroLift is reversible and insurance covers all costs.

To find a doctor who performs Uro-Life in your area visit, UroLift.com.