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Health Connection is your personal health consultation online and on demand! The physicians and professionals at UTHEALTH Northeast answer questions on the health topics that you care about most. Health Connection is updated regularly so check back often.

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The Success Story of Declining Cancer Deaths – Dr. Ed Sauter

The words “good news” and “cancer” are seldom spoken in the same sentence but there is, in fact, good news with respect to this most dreaded of diseases. Cancer deaths are declining in the United States. In this post to HealthConnection.TV, UT Health Northeast cancer expert Dr. Ed Sauter discusses and answers questions about declining cancer deaths.

A new report was released in January 2014 from the American Cancer Society containing the news that the rate of cancer deaths among Americans is continuing to decline. Tell us about this report. (first question)

Which cancers have declined the most in the past 20 years? (skip to 0:48)

Are there any cancers whose rates are increasing? (skip to 1:02)

Is this overall decline in death rates across-the-board in terms of age, race and gender? (skip to 1:16)

What factors have contributed to this decline in the number of Americans dying from cancer? (skip to 1:50)

Based on the American Cancer Society’s 2014 report, who is still at greatest risk overall for dying from cancer? (skip to 2:45)

What about the rate of diagnosis of cancer? Is that rate declining as well? (skip to 3:04)

What about regional cancer rates? For example, East Texas has the highest rates of prostate, lung and colorectal cancer in the entire State of Texas. (skip to 3:42)

As great as the news is from the American Cancer Society, don’t we have a lot more to do in the fight against this much-feared disease? (skip to 5:30)

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The Mammography Study Heard ‘Round the World – Dr. Don Wells

For a long time now we have been told that routine mammograms are in invaluable tool in reducing deaths related to breast cancer. But a study recently published in the British Medical Journal calls that belief into question. So is the study right? UT Health radiology expert Dr. Don Wells gets to the bottom of the controversial study on mammography in the latest post to HealthConnection.TV.

Explain the recently published study in the British Medical Journal that calls into question the value of mammograms. Why is this particular study significant? (first question)

We have been told for decades that women should have annual mammograms. So why should we pay attention to this study? (skip to 1:00)

Is there anything about this study, its results or the way that it was conducted that causes you concern or should we take it at face value? (skip to 1:32)

Based on this study, is it fair to say that some breast cancers are being treated through surgery, chemotherapy or radiation that don’t need such aggressive treatment? (skip to 2:47)

What has led to over-treatment of breast cancers? (skip to 3:36)

What possible downside is there to finding breast cancers earlier? (skip to 4:14)

So how do women and their doctors decide what the best treatment is for a diagnosis of breast cancer? (skip to 4:48)

The study dealt with screening mammograms. What about diagnostic mammograms in which a woman may find a lump and her doctor needs to know what it is? (skip to 6:04)

What advice would you give a woman who hears about this study with respect to the value of mammograms? (skip to 6:48)

How do you think this research study may affect women’s health care in the future? What changes might we see? (skip to 8:00)

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Colorectal Cancer: Procrastination Can Be Deadly – Dr. Bola Olusola

When caught early, colorectal cancer can be treated with very high levels of effectiveness. Yet people tend to procrastinate when it comes to the painless check-up procedure that can catch such cancers in their earliest stages. UTHealth Northeast gastroenterologist Dr. Bola Olusola talks about diagnosing and preventing colorectal cancer in this post to HealthConnection.TV.

What exactly is colorectal cancer? (first question)

How common is colorectal cancer and how serious is it? (skip to 0:37)

What causes colorectal cancer to develop in some people and not others? (skip to 0:57)

What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer? (skip to 1:56)

How important is the dreaded colonoscopy in diagnosing cancer of the colon? (skip to 2:27)

How is colorectal cancer treated? (skip to 3:17)

Apart from the colonoscopy, are there other screening tests for colorectal cancer and can they take the place of colonoscopy? (skip to 4:07)

Are there things we can do now to reduce our chances of developing colorectal cancer? (skip to 7:34)

Is colonoscopy painful and will there ever come a day when we won’t have to drink that nasty liquid in order to prepare for it? (skip to 8:47)

At what age is colonoscopy as a tool for screeing for colorectal cancer appropriate? (skip to 9:48)

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Narcolepsy: New Answers to this Mysterious Disease – Dr. Jim Stocks

Awake when you’re supposed to be asleep. Asleep when you’re supposed to be awake. An inability to benefit from proper sleep. It may not be insomnia. It could be a neurological disorder called narcolepsy. In this post to HealthConnection.TV, Dr. Jim Stocks offers new insights on this mysterious disease.

What is narcolepsy? (first question)

How common is narcolepsy? (skip to 0:48)

The 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic caused a spike in cases of narcolepsy. What was the connection? (skip to 0:59)

Do we now know that narcolepsy is an auto-immune disease? (skip to 3:00)

Is confirming that narcolepsy is an auto-immune disease a significant finding? (skip to 3:31)

What is an auto-immune disease? (skip to 5:32)

Prior to finding that narcolepsy is an auto-immune disease, what did the scientific and medical communities believe caused narcolepsy? (skip to 7:17)

Are there risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing narcolepsy? (skip to 8:25)

How do you know if you have narcolepsy and how serious is it? (skip to 8:54)

How is narcolepsy currently treated and will these new findings change how narcolepsy is treated in the future? (skip to 9:41)

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Stress: More Dangerous Than You Think – Gerald Brown, P.A.

“Stressed out” is an expression we hear all the time and, indeed, we do seem to all run at a fast, stressful pace. But being under constant stress is a bigger risk to your health than you might think. Recognizing and coping with chronic stress is the topic that Certified Physician Assistant Gerald Brown covers in this post to HealthConnection.TV.

The word, “stress” is very commonly used. What exactly is stress? (first question)

Do we all experience stress in the same way? (skip to 0:48)

What are the stress warning signs to which we need to pay attention? (skip to 1:24)

What is the tipping point at which we go from normal stress to chronic stress? (skip to 2:10)

What is the long-term impact on us physically from chronic stress? (skip to 2:46)

Are there some practical and effective ways to manage our stress? (skip to 3:27)

How do we know if we are doing a poor job of managing stress? (skip to 4:08)

When does one know that it’s time to seek professional help in dealing with stress? (skip to 4:39)

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Prostate Cancer: From Screening to Diagnosis to Treatment – Dr. Hitesh Singh

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men and causes about 36,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Some men, based on ethnicity, occupation, family history and age, are more susceptible. The U.T. Health Science Center’s Dr. Hitesh Singh talks about the screening, diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer in this latest post to HealthConnection.TV.

What is the likelihood that a man will develop prostate cancer over the course of his lifetime? (first question)

What causes prostate cancer? (skip to 0:43)

How is prostate cancer detected? (skip to 2:00)

Why has the PSA test for prostate cancer become controversial? (skip to 2:37)

What would be the impact if the medical community stopped using the PSA test as a screening tool? (skip to 4:15)

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer? (skip to 4:47)

How serious is a diagnosis of prostate cancer? (skip to 5:22)

How is prostate cancer treated? (skip to 6:25)

Are there things a man can do to prevent getting prostate cancer? (skip to 8:15)

What does the future hold for prostate cancer treatment? (skip to 8:53)

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Atrial Fibrillation – Dr. Sam Daya

Do you ever feel a pounding, fluttering, or racing sensation in your chest? What about light-headedness, confusion, or shortness of breath all at the same time? If you experience these symptoms, you may have atrial fibrillation, or ‘AFib.’ Left untreated, AFib can lead to life-threatening blood clots or a weakened heart that results in heart failure. Atrial fibrillation is a serious health matter. Persons that suffer atrial fibrillation are five to seven times more likely than the general population to have a stroke. In this post to HealthConnection.TV, U.T. Health Science Center at Tyler cardiologist Dr. Sam Daya answers questions on diagnosing and treating atrial fibrillation.

What is atrial fibrillation or AFib? (first question)

What causes atrial fibrillation? (skip to 0:32)

How do you know if you have atrial fibrillation? Are there specific symptoms? (skip to 0:51)

How is atrial fibrillation diagnosed? (skip to 1:47)

How is atrial fibrillation treated? (skip to 2:55)

Is atrial fibrillation dangerous? (skip to 3:57)

What is the connection between atrial fibrillation and an increased risk for stroke? (skip to 4:28)

Can atrial fibrillation be prevented? (skip to 5:46)

What does the future hold for treating patients with atrial fibrillation? (skip to 6:24)



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When Your Lungs Have High Blood Pressure – Dr. Dudley Goulden

Did you know that your lungs can have high blood pressure, too? And it may be a sign of a serious disease called pulmonary hypertension – a condition in which high pressure in the arteries of your lungs makes it difficult for your lungs to oxygenate blood for use by the rest of your body. In this post to HealthConnection.TV, U.T. Health Northeast cardiology expert Dr. Dudley Goulden answers questions about pulmonary hypertension.

What is pulmonary hypertension? (first question)

Is pulmonary hypertension different from high blood pressure? (skip to 0:43)

What causes pulmonary hypertension? (skip to 1:33)

What are the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension? (skip to 2:25)

Why is diagnosing pulmonary hypertension challenging? (skip to 3:08)

How is pulmonary hypertension treated? (skip to 4:10)

UT Health Northeast is the only health care facility in our region that uses nitric oxide to diagnose pulmonary hypertension. Why is this significant? (skip to 5:26)

Is there anything that can be done to avoid getting pulmonary hypertension? (skip to 6:34)

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The Effect Pain Has on Sleep – Dr. Jim Stocks

It makes sense that if you hurt, you won’t sleep. But it is also true in many cases that if you don’t sleep, you’ll hurt. The relationship between pain and sleep is a complex one — a better understanding of which could lead to improved health and quality of life for those that suffer chronic pain. Dr. Jim Stocks from UT Health Northeast explores this complex relationship in the latest post to HealthConnection.TV.

A significant number of people with sleep problems also have chronic pain. Is there a connection between sleep and pain? (first question)

What are the most common causes of the pain and sleep problem? (skip to 0:49)

How does pain affect sleep quality? (skip to 1:43)

A recent study has found that people with chronic pain may benefit from more sleep. Why would that make a difference? (skip to 3:13)

Can sleep disorders such as sleep apnea cause pain? (skip to 5:16)

What are the long-term effects of poor quality sleep caused by chronic pain? (skip to 6:31)

If you suffer from chronic pain, what can be done to get more restful sleep? (skip to 7:14)

When is it time to see a doctor for chronic pain and sleep problems? (skip to 9:47)

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Obesity: Genetics or Willpower – Dr. David Shafer

Most people believe that maintaining a healthy weight is just a matter of diet and exercise. But what if it’s not that simple? Is it possible that it may not be just a matter of willpower and self-control? UT Health Northeast diabetes expert Dr. David Shafer explores the ins and outs of this epic battle in the latest post to HealthConnection.TV.

Is being overweight just a matter of eating more calories than you body needs or are there other factors involved? (first question)

Do your genes or family history affect whether or not you are overweight or obese? What are the environmental factors that play a role in obesity? (skip to 1:44)

What is metabolism and is it accurate to say that some people have a “fast” metabolism and some have a “slow” one? (skip to 3:56)

Some scientists believe genetic disorders are the primary reason people are overweight. Others believe issues like the easy availability of high-fat foods and lack of exercise are responsible for the obesity epidemic. Who’s right? (skip to 4:59)

In reading articles about obesity and genetics, one frequently sees the term “twin studies.” What does that term mean? (skip to 6:13)

What is Leptin and why is it referred to as the obesity hormone?” (skip to 7:42)

What is the “hunger hormone?” (skip to 9:31)

Based on what we know now, what are the best tools to combat obesity? (skip to 12:02)

Why is losing weight such a struggle? (skip to 13:54)

What role do you think genetics will have on the future treatment of obesity? (skip to 15:35)