Is a Clinical Trial Right for You?

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You have cancer. In the course of your journey, your doctor suggested that a research study – called a clinical trial – might prove beneficial to you. You likely have questions. What would you be getting yourself into? What sort of chances are you taking? Should you participate? Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) hematologist oncologist Suresh Nair, MD, with LVPG Hematology Oncology–1240 Cedar Crest is here to help you answer these questions.

“Many clinical trials involve treatments that have shown significant promise in being more effective than existing therapies,” Nair says. “Additionally, the risk/benefit analysis in clinical trials is carefully reviewed and monitored, and trials are conducted in phases, each with a different purpose. This is done to ensure low risks and proper procedures at all times.” Read More »

When the Best Cancer Treatment Is No Treatment

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Promising new medications recently have been approved for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells that fight infection. Many people who used these medications in clinical trials went into partial or complete remission, or experienced longer periods of time in which the cancer did not progress. Even though these new medications are effective, they may not be the best treatment for every person with CLL.

“For people who have a type of cancer that grows slowly (like CLL or prostate cancer), often the best thing to do is watch and wait,” says Lehigh Valley Health Network hematologist oncologist Harvey Hotchner, MD, with Lehigh Valley Physician Group Hematology Oncology—Alliance Drive. “Active treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation are not always the first recommendation.” Read More »

Regular Exercise May Help to Reduce Age-Related Bone Injury

Stay active at all agesIf you think the golden years are a time to sit back and relax, think again. Too much leisure time that involves sitting (and other sedentary activities) may weaken your bones and leave you at risk for traumatic injury.

To preserve your health during the “golden” season of life, it’s important to stay active. Regular exercise will improve your overall health, and weight-bearing exercise will strengthen your bones.

Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) orthopedic surgeon Scott Sexton, MD, with VSAS Orthopaedics, knows how traumatic injuries can negatively impact quality of life for older adults. That’s why he recommends maintaining an active lifestyle at every age.

“You’re never too old to start exercising,” Sexton says. “Falls are scary. They also may result in breaks and fractures, which are hard on older adults.” Read More »

What Is an Electrophysiologist?

Your heart's electrician is on the beatAn electrophysiologist is a cardiologist who specializes in the treatment of heart rhythm disorders, also called arrhythmias. An arrhythmia occurs when the heart beats too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia) or erratically (fibrillation).

“The heart’s electrical system creates signals that trigger the heart to pump in a regular rhythm and at a rate that is appropriate for the work the body is doing,” says Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) electrophysiologist Norman Marcus, MD, with LVPG Cardiology–1250 Cedar Crest. “An arrhythmia results from a problem in the electrical system.”

Many things can cause the heart to beat abnormally, including:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Excessive caffeine
  • Stress
  • Thyroid disease
  • Fever

 

Many arrhythmias are minor, causing only occasional abnormal heartbeats and requiring no treatment. “Others, such as atrial fibrillation, can be life-threatening because they increase the risk for blood clots and strokes,” Marcus says. Read More »

Exercising: Start Low, Aim High

Start Low, Aim High When You ExerciseLove handle, spare tire, beer belly – no matter what you call that extra weight around the middle, you’d likely prefer to do without it. Generally, getting rid of unwanted pounds means eating better and exercising more. It’s a simple formula, but you still have to be careful along the way.

“I see a lot of people who come to me with stress injuries from simply attempting to do too much too soon,” says Lehigh Valley Health Network orthopedic surgeon Neal Stansbury, MD, with VSAS Orthopaedics. “If you are overweight or very out-of-shape when you start, your body may not be able to handle the stress of the exercise regimen you’ve chosen.”

Stansbury has a simple rule for anyone looking to get back into shape: Low impact before high impact. You may be saving yourself a lot of pain and aggravation by beginning with a kinder, gentler approach. Read More »