Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

25 Sivan 5766 - June 21, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

Your Medical Questions Answered!
by Joseph B. Leibman, MD

Director, Emergency Services, Bikur Cholim Hospital

Warning signs of cancer. First the principles: Not all cases of these signs are cancer and chances are that they are not. But in all cases the earlier you catch it the better the chances of a full recovery. Some cancers are curable, but denial or excuses ("I hate doctors", "It will go away") can turn a survivable situation into a lethal one.

What is something that needs further investigation? Lumps that grow, are fixed and not movable, are hard, and irregular shaped need to be investigated. Unexplained weight loss is also a possible symptom as are fatigue and sores that do not heal.

Now individual cancers. We will not speak on breast and teste cancer here since we have discussed them in the past.

Skin: Sun exposure in light-skinned people is the danger here. People with lots of moles and spots need to be regularly checked by a dermatologist. Black spots are more worrisome. Sores that do not heal in nondiabetics can be easier to treat cancers.

Mouth: Smokers beware. These are disfiguring cancers with high mortality rates. Change of voice, festering sores, are risks

Brain: Deep boring headaches that persist and new seizure are possible signs. Brain is often secondary to other areas in the body.

Esophageal: Problems with swallowing. Heartburn. Those who suffer from heartburn regularly are at risk. Blood test Ca 9-19 is elevated. Smokers at risk.

Lung: Cough with blood. Shortness of breath that is unexplained. Smoking is a risk, as is exposure to other air pollution.

Stomach: Ulcer sufferers are at risk. Pain, bleeding. There is a higher risk in fish eaters, but fish is very healthy and this may be related to fish that has high mercury levels which mostly are fish not eaten by Jews. Smokers are at risk.

Liver: Usually secondary to other cancers, like colon and ovary. Yellowing of the skin, confusion. Perhaps pain.

Pancreas: Yellowing, weight loss. A bad cancer that is often picked up too late.

Kidney: Another bad one picked up too late. Weight loss, blood in urine.

Colon: Black stool, occult blood in stool. Very common cancer in fat eaters and in Western Cultures. Stool should be checked for occult blood yearly from age 40. Alpha Feto Protein elevated in Blood. CA 9-19 as well.

Rectal cancer: Fullness in rectum. A routine rectal exam can pick this up, as well as occult blood in stool and prostate lumps.

Ovarian Cancer: Another bad one. Routine gynecological exam yearly. Blood levels of Ca 125 rise.

Hematological cancers: That is leukemia, MDS. Symptoms are easy bruising, unexplained anemia, fatigue and weakness.

Lymphoma: Lumps. If they are in the chest or abdomen cavity they may not be detected without a CT. Hodgkin's Lymphoma is curable.

Bladder: Blood in urine. Much more common in Israel than in USA. I'm not sure why.

Thyroid: Lump in neck, weakness or excitability. Very common in women. Often curable if caught early.


Answering another question: How do you relate to a person coming home from a psychiatric hospital? First respect their privacy and dignity. Often the drugs given to control schizophrenia and, to a lesser point, depression make the person look "strange" and perhaps have slurred speech. Do not stare. Be supportive. Understand that getting back into society requires time, just like any other illness. Be on the lookout for a relapse. Often these folks feel much better and think there is no need to keep taking their pills. Be available to talk to. Be firm about treatment plans. Hiding can put much pressure on the family. Good luck.

Write me in care of the Yated.


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