Review Category : Health

Beating the Odds: Robot-assisted surgery offers local prostate cancer patient long-term results

Hugh Davis never gave much thought to his prostate. The walnut-shaped gland — known to wreak havoc on the lives of men 40 and older — hadn’t caused him any trouble.

Prostate patient Hugh Davis.

Prostate patient Hugh Davis.

But when two of his siblings began developing prostate issues, he decided not to take any chances. Every six months without fail, Davis went to his urologist for a PSA screening, a simple blood test used to look for signs of prostate cancer in men.

“My brothers’ prostate issues made me more diligent about getting checked,” Davis says. “I started to get tested regularly just to be sure.”

Davis was in his mid-40s when he began having the twice-a-year screenings. It was all good until the spring of 2013, when his PSA level came back higher than normal. A biopsy confirmed he had cancer.

“I knew there was a slight chance I could develop cancer because of my family history,” the 69-year-old retired Beaufort attorney says. “But I had no symptoms. It was a shock to hear the words.”

In its early stage, prostate cancer is usually asymptomatic. According to the American Cancer Society, it’s most often discovered during routine screenings. Davis had several more tests, including an MRI and bone scan, to determine if cancer cells had spread to other parts of his body. The results showed the cancer was confined to the prostate.

His urologist, John Adams, MD, of Coastal Carolina Urology, offered Davis several treatment options — surgery, radiation or cryotherapy, which involves freezing and killing the cancer cells.

Prostate surgery is frequently used to treat localized prostate cancer, particularly for men with a life expectancy of more than 10 years. Surgically removing the entire prostate eradicates the cancer and reduces the chances it will come back.

Although preventing recurrence was a priority for Davis, he was reluctant to have open surgery — the traditional approach to prostatectomy. In this operation, the surgeon removes the prostate and some of the tissue around it through a single long incision in the pubic area.

Adams recommended Davis meet with fellow Beaufort Memorial urologist Michael Staley, MD, the only physician in Beaufort County performing robot-assisted laparoscopic prostate cancer surgery.

“Robotic surgery appealed to me because it offered the best chance of getting rid of the cancer totally with minimal side effects,” Davis says. “If it hadn’t been available, I probably would have gone with radiation therapy or the freezing treatment.”

Because Davis was in good health and in his 60s, he was a candidate for the procedure.

Using the advanced da Vinci Si Surgical System, the prostate can be removed through several small incisions in the abdomen, resulting in less blood loss and post-operative pain. Patients are discharged from the hospital the day after surgery and need a catheter for one week. In comparison, open surgery requires a two- to three-day hospital stay and two to three weeks with a catheter. Men can return to their regular activities in 10 days, compared to four to six weeks with the open approach.

Davis chose to have the surgery last fall. Since then, his PSA levels have been undetectable, indicating the prostate cancer is gone.

“I feel I made the right decision,” he says. “Now that it’s behind me, I don’t have to worry anymore.”

SEPTEMBER IS PROSTATE CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

Prostate cancer continues to be the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men in the United States. One man in six will get prostate cancer during his lifetime. Most urologists still recommend PSA testing for patients 55 to 69, especially African American men who are nearly 1.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than Caucasian men and 2.4 times more likely to die from the disease. Be sure to discuss PSA testing with your doctor.

 
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Dr. Harshman joins Beaufort Memorial Physician Partners

David Harshman, MD, part of the team that helped Beaufort Memorial Hospital win state approval to perform life-saving emergency cardiac interventions, has joined Beaufort Memorial Physician Partners.

An interventional cardiologist, board certified in cardiology, internal medicine and interventional cardiology, Harshman has been a member of Beaufort Memorial’s medical staff and has been performing diagnostic catheterizations in the hospital’s Cochrane Heart Center since 2010.

Dr. David Harshman

Dr. David Harshman

He served as co-chairman of the hospital’s STEMI committee, charged with helping BMH apply for a Certificate of Need from the state to treat patients suffering an ST elevation myocardial infarction or STEMI—the most dangerous type of heart attack. He is one of three cardiologists now performing emergency interventions at the hospital.

“We’re delighted to have Dr. Harshman on our Physician Partners team,” said BMH President and CEO Rick Toomey. “He has been a valued member of our medical staff and played a key role in helping us attain approval to perform emergency interventions. The STEMI program has proven to be a tremendous benefit to the community by providing timely treatment to critical patients.”

Harshman’s practice, renamed Beaufort Memorial Cardiology, will remain at its current location in suite 300 of Beaufort Medical Plaza, 989 Ribaut Road.

Prior to joining Beaufort Memorial Physician Partners on Sept. 1, Harshman was employed by Roper St. Francis Health Care System. A native of Illinois, Harshman was in private practice in Missouri and Illinois for over 30 years. He served as director of cardiac catheterization laboratories in hospitals in both states and director of the Coronary Care Unit at St. Mary’s Health Center in St. Louis.

Harshman received his B.S. in biology from Northern Illinois University and his medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He completed his internship, residency and fellowship at Saint Louis University Hospitals in Missouri.

Beaufort Memorial Physician Partners includes a wide range of specialists, from surgeons to orthopedists, as well as primary care doctors. For more information on the group, visit www.bmhsc.org. To make an appointment with Dr. Harshman, call 843-522-7110.

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Sleeping in contact lenses is a risky endeavor

By Mark S. Siegel

If you’re a contact lens wearer, chances are you’ve snoozed with your contacts in at least a time or two. Maybe you only do it once in awhile, when you fall asleep in front of the TV or forget to bring disinfecting solution on an overnight trip. Or maybe it’s more of a regular practice, and you leave them in for days (and nights) at a time.

Either way, it’s not a good idea.

When you sleep with your contact lenses in, you’re depriving your corneas of oxygen. This is analogous to wearing a plastic bag over your head when you sleep which is not ideal for oxygen exchange. The cornea receives oxygen from the air when you are awake, but when you are asleep, it gets nourishment and lubrication from tears and a gelatinous fluid inside the eye called the aqueous humor. If there’s a contact lens in your eye when you’re sleeping, then the contact lens acts as a barrier between the closed eyelid and the cornea, and it’s fairly tight over the surface of the cornea. When you’re awake, the contact lens is actually supposed to move a bit — about a millimeter of movement with every blink — in order to allow the cornea to get oxygen. But when you’re sleeping with your contacts in, the contact lens is unable to move because your eyes aren’t blinking. The end result is an oxygen-starved cornea, which becomes more susceptible to infection.

Bacteria or parasites can infect any microscopic abrasions of the cornea, which can be caused by contact with the back surface of the contact lenses. These bacterial microorganisms are part of our normal eyelid flora or can be introduced from the contact lenses themselves (a contact lens can have some bacteria on it because it’s not clean or it’s been resting on the eyes for so long), or from water, even when it’s safe for drinking. A parasite found in water called acanthamoeba, for example, can cause serious eye infections. Corneal ulcers, which are localized infections of the cornea, may cause permanent scarring resulting in loss of vision or even blindness.

In fact, a 2012 study in the journal Ophthalmology showed that the risk for keratitis — inflammation of the cornea — increased 6.5 times with just occasional overnight lens use among people who used contact lenses intended for removal at the end of the day.

While there are some contact lenses that have been FDA-approved for “extended wear,” meaning you can wear them for multiple days at a time, the FDA still recommends people using these lenses remove them and not wear them overnight at least one time a week. However, it’s simply not a good idea to wear these lenses overnight, if you can help it, because there is still an increased risk for infection.

Moreover, multiple studies have shown that people who wear extended-wear lenses (soft hydrogel lenses) have a 10 to 15 times higher risk of developing ulcerative keratitis, compared with daily-wear contact lens users. Overnight wear, regardless of contact lens type, increases the likelihood of corneal infection, which may result in permanent vision loss or even blindness and should be avoided.

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The Blood Alliance announces September blood drives

The Blood Alliance is holding blood drives across northern Beaufort County during the month of September. For more information or appointments, call 888-99-TBA-HERO or visit www.igiveblood.com. A government-issued photo I.D. is required to donate.

• Sunday, September 7: St. John’s Lutheran Church, 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., 157 Lady’s Island Drive, Lady’s Island.

• Wednesday, September 10: Beaufort County Government, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., 100 Ribaut Road, Beaufort.

• Thursday,  September 11: Beaufort Jasper Water & Sewer Authority, 7:30 a.m. – noon, 6 Snake Road, Okatie.

• Monday, September 15: Beaufort High School, 8 a.m.  – 3 p.m., 85 Sea Island Parkway, Lady’s Island.

• Tuesday, September 16: Technical College of the Lowcountry, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., 921 Ribaut Road, Beaufort.

• Friday, September 19: Whale Branch Early College High School, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., 169 Detour Road, Seabrook.

• Friday, September 26: Battery Creek High School, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., 1 Blue Dolphin Drive, Beaufort.

• Sunday, September 28: Tidal Creek Fellowship, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., 290  Brickyard Point Road South, Lady’s Island.

• Tuesday, September 30: Lowe’s of Beaufort, 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., 207 Robert Smalls Parkway, Beaufort.

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Health Tip of the Week: The seven minute workout

By Ian Hart

Many people have this idea about working out: You have to spend hours at the gym and work out five to seven days a week. This is true if you want to be a bodybuilder, a professional athlete or compete in certain events, but the reality is that you can get a lean, toned and attractive body in less than 90 minutes a week. Yes, you heard that right, only 90 minutes a week.

Many people find it hard to believe but when we introduce them to people who have achieved dramatic results only doing 70-90 minutes of training a week and have lost 60 to 70 pounds and between 10% and 15% of body fat, their skepticism quickly turns to belief, motivation and excitement about the future of their own health and bodies.

The key is knowledge — knowing what exercises to do and how much of them to do. Ostensibly, if you just did a 7-10 minute workout each day, seven days a week, that is approximately 50-70 minutes of training a week, and I am sure you will see great results.

Here is a quick routine to do at home:

• Run a set of stairs (30 seconds)

• Squats (30 seconds)

• Push ups (30 seconds)

• Walking lunges (30 seconds)

• Jumping Jacks (30 seconds)

• Jog In Place (30 seconds)

Do three sets for a total of 9 minutes of working. You can do this pretty much anywhere, anytime and it takes less than 1 percent of your day. No excuses!

Ian Hart is creator of EarthFIT Transformation Systems and co-creator of the Back Pain Relief4Life Formula. Contact him at www.beaufortpersonaltraining.com or 800-718-7FIT.

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Musings from the therapist’s chair

Meaning is not in things, but between them. Take marriage for example, the meaning or truth of the marriage does not reside in one or the other of the partners but in the middle between them. It is like a sculpture they are working on together: Neither person can fully see what the other sees on the other side, but they work from their own perspectives to make it as beautiful as possible. Benton Lutz is a psychotherapist in private practice in Beaufort.

 
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Understanding pregnancy and your dental health

By Jennifer Wallace, DMD

Congrats on the soon-to-be new addition to your family. There will be a lot of changes to plan for in the next few months. Let’s see, there’s a name to pick, a nursery to get ready, diapers/blankets/clothes to buy — but don’t forget to also plan to take care of Momma during exciting this time.

The old wives tale that warns a woman to expect a lost tooth for every baby is false. If the mother’s intake of calcium is inadequate during pregnancy, her bones — not her teeth — will provide the calcium her growing baby needs. This calcium loss is quickly made up after breastfeeding stops. However, the demands of pregnancy can lead to particular dental problems in some women.

Ben Franklin said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and that certainly applies to this subject. You are less likely to have dental problems during pregnancy if you already have good oral hygiene habits like flossing, brushing with fluoridated toothpastes, eating a healthy non-sugary diet and visiting your dentist regularly. Pregnancy can lead to dental problems in some women, including gum disease and increased risk of tooth decay from cravings of sugary foods, vomiting from morning sickness and gagging when brushing.

During pregnancy, your increased hormones can affect your body’s response to plaque (the layer of germs on your teeth). During pregnancy, about half of all women (60 to 70 percent) experience a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums that is caused when plaque accumulates in the spaces between the gums and the teeth. The accumulation of bacteria can lead to the loss of bone around the teeth and can eventually lead to tooth decay and tooth loss. Pregnancy Gingivitis is caused by an increase in hormone levels, which can exaggerate a woman’s response to dental plaque in the mouth. This extra plaque may cause swelling, bleeding, redness and/or tenderness in the gums. Changes in the gums are most noticeable from the second month of pregnancy, reaching a maximum in the eighth month.

In women with severe morning sickness, frequent vomiting can erode the enamel on the back of the front teeth. If you are vomiting frequently, contact your dental office for information on how to prevent enamel erosion. It is important not to brush right away after you vomit, since the stomach acid in your mouth will only help erode the teeth as you brush. Wait about an hour before brushing your teeth after vomiting. While the teeth are covered in stomach acids, the vigorous action of the toothbrush may scratch the tooth enamel. DO rinse right away with water, or a fluoridated mouth wash.

Research has found a link between gum disease in pregnant women and premature birth with low birth weight. Babies who are born prematurely may risk a range of health conditions including cerebral palsy and problems with eyesight and hearing. Estimates suggest that about 18 out of every 100 premature births may be triggered by periodontal disease, which is a chronic infection of the gums. Appropriate dental treatment for the expectant mother can reduce the risk of premature birth by more than 80 percent, according to one study.

Another old wives tale is that an expectant mother shouldn’t visit the dentist until after birth. Of course, the best approach to dental care is to see your dentist before you get pregnant for an exam and cleaning. During your pregnancy, the second trimester is the best time to receive routine dental care. During the last trimester, it may become uncomfortable for you and baby to sit or lay for longer dental appointments.

Pregnancy does not automatically damage your teeth. With proper hygiene at home and professional help from your dentist, your teeth should remain healthy throughout pregnancy. So be sure to share the good news with your dentist ASAP to prevent and prepare for a happy, healthy momma and baby.

Jennifer Wallace, DMD, practices on Lady’s Island at Palmetto Smiles of Beaufort, 843-524-7645.

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The benefits of exercise and alcohol

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel

In 2020, the number of people in the United States with visual impairment – sight loss often caused by eye disease, trauma, or a congenital or degenerative condition that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses – is projected to increase to at least four million. This is a 70 percent increase from 2000 and is due to the growing aging population and prevalence of age-related eye diseases.

To help determine ways to decrease the incidence of visual impairment, researchers at the University of Wisconsin examined the relationships between the incidence of visual impairment and three modifiable lifestyle behaviors: smoking, drinking alcohol and staying physically active. The research was conducted as part of the Beaver Dam Eye Study, a long-term population-based cohort study from 1988 to 2013 of nearly 5,000 adults aged 43 to 84 years.

The researchers found that regular physical activity and an alcoholic beverage every now and then is associated with a lower risk of visual impairment. The data showed that over 20 years, visual impairment developed in 5.4 percent of the population and varied based on lifestyle behaviors. For example, people who were physically active had a 58 percent decrease in the odds of developing visual impairment compared to people who were not physically active.

The researchers also found that people who drank alcohol occasionally (defined as those who have consumed alcohol in the past year, but reported fewer than one serving in an average week) had a 49 percent decrease in the odds of developing visual impairment compared to people who had consumed no alcohol in the past year.

As with most epidemiologic research, the researchers caution that a limitation to their study is that the findings may be due, in part, to unmeasured factors related to both lifestyle behaviors and development of visual impairment. The data does not prove that these lifestyle behaviors are directly responsible for increased risk. The researchers still believe the research shows good promise for indicating ways that people can lessen their risk of visual impairment through lifestyle changes.

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Beaufort DNA testing goes mobile

Coastal Paternity, LLC co-owners Denise Drake RN & Olivia Bolin, recently announced that Beaufort paternity DNA is now an agency on wheels.  Coastal Paternity, LLC is comprised of a team of dedicated medical professionals who provide high-quality affordable mobile DNA paternity testing in the privacy of your home, hospital bedside, or attorney’s office.  Test results are 100% guaranteed accurate chain of custody and results are court admissible. Coastal Paternity, LLC is proud to partner with the DDC – DNA Diagnostic Center Laboratory the AABB accredited facility that provides testing for high profile celebrities, business professionals, musicians and athletes.

Servicing Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, Colleton, and Allendale County, Coastal Paternity, LLC offers high-quality, affordable, paternity DNA testing performed by professionals with the highest level of credentials.  Mobile services can be retained by individuals, attorneys, and healthcare establishments.  The staff is available for depositions and qualified to deliver expert witness testimony.  All information and test results are strictly confidential. For more information, please call 525-1362.

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Health Tip of the Week – Never diet again

By Ian Hart

The word diet usually has a negative connotation. Diets also never really work long-term. A diet is usually a short-term fix that is perpetuating an issue of the mind. This issue is that we do not do the right things for our bodies on a regular basis, therefore, we need a quick fix because we’ve gone down the wrong path. A lifestyle change is what is needed to create long-term results. A lifestyle change means that we have changed how we think and how we feel about ourselves in relation to the foods we eat. So, in a nutshell, if you never want to diet again, change your thoughts and feelings about yourself and the food that you eat. It is easier said than done because people can be addicted to certain foods and created bad habits over year and years which is hard to reverse. Try this one simple tip: every time you’re about to eat, ask yourself 2 questions:

- Is this food nourishing to my body?

And

- Will it make me feel good?

Then think about every single bite you put into your mouth and nothing else and focus on chewing the bite at least 20 times. This is called mindful eating and can change the way you think and feel about food and how the body will assimilate it. Your brain is constantly talking to your gut and when mindful eating is initiated, so our your gastric juices which will allow for faster and easier break down of food and therefore more nutrients to be absorbed, leading to a instantly increased health.

Ian Hart is creator of EarthFIT Transformation Systems and co-creator of the Back Pain Relief4Life Formula. Contact him at www.beaufortpersonaltraining.com or 800.718.7FIT.

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