2015-04-20-1429540034-576455-analcancerscreening About 17 years ago, Jeff Taylor, an AIDS advocate, became worried he might have anal cancer. Through his work, Taylor knew that anal cancer rates had risen steeply among people with HIV. He was having discomfort, and he knew that there was a simple screening test: a swab that is processed just like a routine Pap smear. His doctor knew about the ...

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Clear communication from doctors, nurses, hospitals and clinics is essential for patients to manage their health care effectively. But creating easily understood materials isn't simple. Many health workers don't realize when they're using technical terms, and many non-medical people have problems reading and understanding scientific and mathematical concepts. Fortunately, several web sites offer helpful advice about how to create patient-friendly educational print materials. Two of the most useful are the National ...

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Marc Henderson, a 63-year-old African-American airport executive, isn't afraid to ask his physician to do a blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a screening test for prostate cancer. "I'd rather know early on so that it can be treated, rather than sit around in denial until it's too late," he said. "If it's going to help catch something, I have no problems with it." Henderson's views aren't unusual. For years, doctors ...

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He was a "frequent flyer" -- a patient with multiple health problems who gets admitted to the hospital repeatedly. It was usually because he hadn't taken his medicine correctly, if at all. When he left the hospital 10 days earlier, he told his physician that he wouldn't have problems filling his prescriptions, because he had Medicaid. But when he arrived at his local drug store, it wasn't so easy. "I was ...

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On a recent afternoon, Hansel Tookes stood on a sidewalk in downtown Miami, peering into a thicket of scraggly weeds. "I found a bunch over here," he said, edging toward an overpass. A small orange plastic cap came into sight, and next to it two slender insulin syringes, with the needles exposed. Scattered about were tiny plastic zipper bags -- evidence that the needles had been used to inject heroin ...

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Sometimes, the simplest tools in medicine are the ones that give us the most useful information. Take the humble blood pressure machine, for example. It's been around for years, and it's cheap, compared with a lot of other medical devices. It's simple to use, and it doesn't require a medical or a nursing degree to operate. But the numbers it reports are valuable in helping predict a person's risk of a ...

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People living along the Gulf of Mexico are still feeling the effect of the BP oil spill disaster, the largest oil catastrophe in history. To learn more about the spill's health effects, I spoke with Dr. Gina Solomon, an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Dr. Solomon was on the Louisiana coast during ...

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Brenda Bryant learned she had breast cancer while she was sitting alone in her car in the parking lot of her grandson's day care center. It was early evening on a Friday two years ago, and her surgeon called to tell her the results of a biopsy. "He just gave me my results and that was it," says Bryant, who lives in Northern Virginia. "It was like there was ...

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At the age of 56, Jules Levin felt pretty invincible, despite being HIV positive. He went to the gym regularly and controlled his disease well by taking his antiretroviral medicines every day. Then he slipped one day while on vacation and broke his wrist. He underwent an operation to insert pins in his bones and needed to wear a cast for a month, keep his arm ...

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Tobacco is the single biggest cause of preventable death and disability in the United States. But nicotine is highly addictive, and quitting the cigarette habit can be extremely tough. L.J., a 55 year old man who gave up smoking after 35 years, proves that it can be done. In L.J.'s words, he was "sick and tired of being sick and tired." But he didn't do it alone; his success depended on ...

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The mole on Ivis Febus-Sampayo's face looked odd. But it wasn't until her son needed treatment for acne that she went to a dermatologist. "As mothers, we're working, we're busy," she said. "I forgot about me and called the dermatologist to make sure my son was getting taken care of." The doctor removed a sliver of the mole, and reassured Ivis that it was probably nothing to worry about. Two weeks later, ...

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In the months since the Haitian earthquake, psychologists from around the world have been traveling to the island, hoping to help a population in shock and at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder. Many are veterans of crises such as Hurricane Katrina, and have extensive experience responding to disasters. But Dr. Guerda Nicolas, a Haitian-born researcher who has conducted landmark studies examining how Haitians experience depression and cope with disasters, has a ...

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Every once in a while, there's a magazine piece that so encapsulates the key moral issues -- and irrationality -- of 21st Century medicine that it warrants designation as mandatory reading for anyone who interacts with patients. Atul Gawande has written some of these; so too has Slate medical columnist, Darshak Sangavi. The latest entry on the required reading list is Katy Butler's "My Father's Broken Heart," which appeared ...

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It’s exceedingly uncommon for a healthy middle-aged man to walk into his doctor’s office and demand a colonoscopy. But even though he lacked a family history, Stanley Thornton, an African-American engineer who was then in his mid-40’s, wouldn’t take no for an answer. “I was concerned that African-Americans do get colorectal cancer earlier, and I said, ‘hey, let me lead by example,’” he said recently. “We argued about it for a ...

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I don’t know about you, but as I watched coverage of President Obama signing the health care bill three months ago, it was hard not to notice the constant ads for power wheelchairs. Emblazoned across the ads was a flashing notice reminding viewers: Medicare may cover this! Don’t get me wrong. As a primary care doctor who takes care of low-income patients, I was glad to see something being done to ...

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Whenever I diagnose a person with asthma or allergies, I usually ask a few questions about his or her living environment. Is there shag carpeting in the bedroom? Is the air conditioning filter changed every month? Is there evidence of roaches and other vermin? I ask these questions because mold, dust mites, animal saliva and insect droppings can worsen the symptoms of asthma and other illnesses. But some of my patients ...

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When her gynecologist told her she had high blood pressure, Marie had a simple solution: switch doctors. After all, she had gone to him for a different problem, and this was the first time he had ever checked her blood pressure. “He said, ‘Oh my God, you’re like a bomb waiting to explode.’ I said, ‘I didn’t come here for that, I came here for something else,’” she explained. Two years later, ...

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It’s hard for Cassandra Mathieu to describe her mother’s cooking without mentioning the salt shaker. “I remember my mother used to cook with seasoning salt, garlic salt, every kind of salt you can imagine,” she said recently. “We grew up on salt.” Cassandra grew up fixing food the same way, adding generous amounts of salt to dishes she prepared and to her food at the table. At age 42, she discovered her ...

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Dr. Barth Green co-founded Project Medishare, which has worked in Haiti for two decades. He led the first team of U.S. physicians to Port-au-Prince after the earthquake and, together with the University of Miami’s Global Institute, spearheaded the development of a 240-bed tent hospital that is now the country’s largest functioning urgent care hospital. His group is working with the U.S. government to establish Haiti’s first rehabilitation hospital. Green ...

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Marleine Bastien is the founder and executive director of Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami--Haitian Women of Miami--www.fanm.org, which advocates for the rights of Haitian women. She is also a congressional candidate for U.S. House District 17, representing Little Haiti and other neighborhoods in Miami. Erin N. Marcus spoke with Bastien on Jan. 22 about the Haiti earthquake. What has FANM been doing since the earthquake? As soon as we heard about it, ...

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