Is Genetic Testing Right for You?

Look for family cancer cluesThe genes you inherited from your parents account for many obvious physical characteristics, like your eye color or height, and hidden ones such as those that determine your blood type or make you susceptible to develop asthma. Sometimes those genes also include unique mutations that put you at risk for diseases like cancer.

But hematologist oncologist, Ranju Gupta, MD, with Hematology Oncology Associates in Bethlehem and the Health Center at Bangor, says while all cancers are caused by genetic mutations, not all of those mutations are passed on through the genes. “A very small percentage of patients inherit risk, but a majority of cancers have no known link from generation to generation,” Gupta says.

However, genetic testing can be an important tool to consider under certain circumstances. “The first step is to look at your family medical history. If you can name several people in your family who have had any type of cancer, you should talk with your doctor about genetic testing,” Gupta says. “For example, if your mother had breast cancer, your grandfather had prostate cancer and your cousin had pancreatic cancer, those multiple cancers among blood relatives may mean you have an elevated chance for developing cancer too.” Read More »

Listen to What Your Body is Saying

Tune Into Your BodyWho is the one person you can trust the most with your health and well-being? For Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) gynecologist Karen Sciascia, DO, the answer is a no-brainer.

That person is you.

“Listen to your body,” says Sciascia, who practices with Bethlehem Gynecology Associates. “You’d be amazed how many people don’t.” Read More »

Guys: Fitness Improves Your Odds Against Cancer

Caution, Couch PotatoesWe’re heading into fall – prime season for endless hours of football and baseball. But would an incentive like reducing cancer risk get you (or your man) off the couch? Lehigh Valley Health Network hematologist oncologist Ashish Shah, DO, with Hematology Oncology Associates-Bethlehem wants you to know about a compelling study that shows how men can benefit from staying active.

The study, presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology 2013 annual conference, tracked the health of more than 17,000 men for 20 years. Starting at around age 50, men in the study took a treadmill fitness test to determine their baseline stamina. “Over the course of the study, the men who started out as the most fit cardiovascular-wise had the greatest risk reduction for developing lung cancer (68 percent less risk) and colon-rectal cancer (38 percent less risk) as compared to men who were couch potatoes,” Shah says.

In addition, the study found higher levels of cardiovascular fitness also improved survival rates for men who were diagnosed with cancer. Read More »

Don’t Hold It In

Don't wait to goYou have to go. You’re driving in your car or sitting in a meeting, or doing something else that’s making you postpone nature’s call. Your bladder may be full, but your circumstances make it inconvenient to take a break.

We’ve all been there. Usually we take care of the issue as quickly as possible and go back to our lives. But if you’ve found yourself in this situation numerous times, you could be asking for trouble. Holding urine causes pressure in your urinary tract, and repeat offenses can lead to a number or problems.

“Forcefully holding urine for long periods of time can lead to decreased bladder tone and increase your risk for urinary retention,” says Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) urologist Joseph Feliciano, MD, with Lehigh Valley Urology Specialty Care. Read More »

Help for Patients Receiving Care for a Brain Tumor

Healthy You Tip Tara MorrisonAs we age, it’s normal to experience changes in memory, strength and coordination. But when severe symptoms come on suddenly, within a few days or weeks, it’s time for your doctor to investigate further. A rapid change in functioning can point to a number of conditions. For a tiny percentage of the population, these symptoms may indicate the presence of a brain tumor.

Getting a brain tumor diagnosis can shake the foundation of your life. But advances in treatment options over the past 10 years offer new help and hope. Having a wide network of support also will help you get through the recovery process.

“It’s really important to ask for, and accept, the physical and emotional support of family, friends, your religious community or anywhere you can find it,” says Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) neuro-oncologist Tara Morrison, MD, with Hematology-Oncology Associates. “Whatever you do, don’t do it alone.” Read More »