Thursday, May 20, 2010

Get the Skinny on Skin Cancer

One million people. That’s how many Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year. Of those one million people, 60,000 will be diagnosed with the most serious type of skin cancer – melanoma.

“Melanoma is the least common but the most dangerous and life-threatening of all skin cancers,” says Dr. Geoffrey Moorer, an oncologist on Sentara Potomac Hospital’s medical staff. “Early detection and diagnosis are vital for successful treatment.”

“Melanoma is more dangerous than other cancers of the skin because it can spread to vital organs in the body, making treatment much more difficult,” says Dr. Moorer. “Less serious carcinomas (skin cancers) usually do not spread to internal organs.”

Dr. Moorer says that the best way to detect skin cancer at its earliest stages is to get to know your moles and the look of your skin.

“Everyone should closely inspect all moles or spots on the body,” says Dr. Moorer. “Any changes in these moles, such as darkening or irregular colors, uneven borders (normal moles are usually oval or round with defined borders), or moles or spots that are bigger than a pencil eraser, should be reported to your doctor immediately.”

According to Dr. Moorer, other warning signs to watch for when inspecting your moles include itchiness, tenderness or pain; oozing, bleeding or a bump; spread of the pigment to the surrounding skin; and moles that look completely different from your other moles.

Sentara Potomac Hospital’s Dr. Geoffrey Moorer stresses the importance of early detection of skin cancer. His office is located at in the Century Medical Building, 2280 Opitz Blvd., Suite 300, in Woodbridge. Telephone: 703-897-5358.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wellness Wit and Wisdom

By Maureen Deutermann, MSN, R.N.
Director of Community Education

My Sunday routine has undergone its annual spring renewal. Translation: the Farmers Market has reopened!! So after this sinner dutifully attends Sunday church services, I trade my hymnal for a canvas grocery bag and head for the market. There are many reasons to make the local Farmer’s Market part of your weekly routine, most of them healthy and economical. Here’s what you’ll find:

Fresh seasonal fruits and veggies at reasonable, competitive prices. From berries and tomatoes, greens and potatoes earlier in the season to succulent peaches and nectarines in mid-summer, to a myriad of apple varieties, squash and pumpkins in the fall, the selection is dizzying. The market is a great place to experiment with fruits and veggies you may not see in the local grocery.

I am a great fan of Swiss chard, but had only seen it in the green and red varieties. Little did I know it comes in a rainbow of colors, found at the Farmers Market. If you think summer squash equals zucchini and yellow crookneck, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the different varieties to try at the market. Red romaine lettuce? Yep, there is such a thing and I picked it up just last week. If you are going organic, you’ll likely to find at least one stand that boasts organic, pesticide-free produce.

Herbs, herbs and more herbs. If you are at all interested in growing your own herbs, the Farmers Market invariably boasts several local growers’ offerings, robust and healthy. I took a teensy little mint plant last year and it grew into the herb that ate Cleveland (almost!). Having nowhere near a green thumb, I was pretty impressed. Nothing like snipping fresh herbs all summer long to add nutritious pizzazz to any dish. This year I planted basil, rosemary, oregano and Italian parsley. The mint? My teensy plant from last year is alive, well, and has grand ambitions of becoming a ground cover!

Flowers and decorative plants. No need to go to a pricey nursery, the Farmers Market always has a great selection of flowers and plants in season. Other vendors get in on the action as well. Fresh breads, pies, kettle popcorn (ok, some of these aren’t all that healthy!) and even goat cheese all can be had at the Farmers Market.

The real beauty of this experience is the fact that all this bounty is not only fresher and more varied than the local grocery, but inexpensive! Last year I put myself on a $20 budget per visit and came home with enough produce to feed a family of four for a week. Celebrate spring by treating yourself to a visit to the Farmers Market; you’ll boost your health and spare your pocketbook!

*The Farmers Market I frequent is the Dale City Farmers Market, located in the commuter’s lot at Dale Boulevard and Minnieville Road. It is open Sundays from 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. There are also Farmers Markets in Old Town Manassas and Haymarket. For more information, simply Google them by location.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Flip Flops: The good, the bad and the fungi

The start of summer means that flip flops are back in business. Actually, for many young people, flip flops aren’t summer-only footwear. Gone are the days flip flops were seen only at the beach or pool. For many, they’ve become a fashion must. According to podiatrist Dr. Mehul Shah, these young people may want to re-think where and when they’re flipping and flopping.

“Flip flops have become a fashion statement for many people,” says Dr. Shah, a podiatrist on Sentara Potomac Hospital’s medical staff. “But wearing flip flops all of the time can damage your feet or toenails. Trauma can be caused by someone stepping on your toe, accidentally kicking your feet, or by tripping and stubbing your toe. This trauma can cause small breaks in the toenail and separate the toenail from the skin underneath allowing for dirt and wetness to get under the toenail. When this happens fungus can form under your nails, especially when the flip flops get wet.”

Toenail fungus symptoms include yellowing, thickening and/or crumbling of the nail, swelling, streaks or spots on the nail and even nail loss. Toenail fungus can also be picked up in damp areas such as public gyms, pools or showers. This can occur when you are barefoot.

“Treatment for toenail fungus varies and can be difficult, so the best treatment is prevention.” says Dr. Shah. “Keeping your feet clean and dry, trimming your toenails and preventing even small injuries to your toes are the best preventions. Some of the most common treatments include topical medications, oral medications and the latest laser treatment.”

Wearing flip flops to amusement parks, concerts, parks or other highly populated areas presents risk for foot trauma. According to Dr. Shah, many people don’t even notice they’ve received foot trauma during these outings because the injuries may be small. But those small injuries could open the door to big problems down the road.

Podiatrist Dr. Mehul Shah warns trauma to unprotected toenails can cause fungus, injury or other foot problems. Dr. Shah’s office is located in the Century Medical Building, 2280 Opitz Blvd., Suite 230, in Woodbridge. Telephone: 703-583-5959.