Learn The ABCDE’s of Moles

Skin cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer in the United States. It can present in all ethnicities and skin tones. Almost all skin cancers are found on skin exposed to sun, ultraviolet light, tanning lights, or sun lamps.

Most forms of skin cancer can be treated successfully when detected early. Unusual growths on the skin such as moles can serve as warning signs; therefore, paying attention to changes and abnormalities is crucial in early detection.

When observing changes in the skin, knowing what is considered ‘normal’ is vital. For example, a normal mole is solid and uniform in color, and can range from tan, brown, dark brown, or flesh colored. They are usually round or oval in shape with well-defined edges, and may be flat or raised.  However, moles that have developed into skin cancer are sometimes irregularly shaped, scaly or have a variation in color.

The ABCDE rule can help you remember what to look for when checking your moles.

A for Asymmetry

If you fold the mole in half, does it look the same on both sides? If it looks the same on both sides, then it is symmetrical. If both sides look different, the mole is asymmetrical and should be monitored.

B for Border

Look at the border of the mole. Normal moles have a smooth edge. Moles of concern may have a blurry or jagged border.

C for Color

Note the original color of the mole. Has it changed by becoming darker, lost some color, or have multiple colors? (Note that some moles tend to darken during pregnancy or while taking birth controls pills.)

D for Diameter

How large is the mole? Moles that are bigger than 1/4 inch in diameter should be shown to your health care provider.

E for Evolving

Has the mole changed in shape, size, or color? If so, alert your primary care provider.

 

 

Doctors advise that you seek medical care if:

  • Your mole changes size, especially if it grows very quickly or becomes larger than a pencil eraser (6mm).
  • Your mole changes in color or develops more than one color.
  • Your mole, or the skin near the mole, becomes painful, sore, red, or swollen.
  • Your mole becomes scaly, sheds skin, oozes fluid, or bleeds.
  • Your mole develops irregular borders.
  • Your mole becomes hard or soft, or develops raised areas.

There are several steps you can take to protect your skin against cancer: Avoid the sun during peak hours, wear sunscreen (with an SPF of at least 30, reapplying every 2-3 hours) and wear sunglasses and protective clothing when spending long periods of time outdoors. Additionally, it is important to remember that ultraviolet radiation from artificial tanning beds is a known carcinogen. Using them can increase your risk of skin cancers such as melanoma by 59%, and even more with each use.

If you notice changes in your skin that are abnormal, it is important to speak with your doctor right away. Early detection is key when treating skin cancer.

If you have questions or concerns about unusual growths on your skin, you can schedule an appointment with a Family Medicine doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center by calling, 718-206-6942.

Ambika Nath MD, Family Medicine

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Flu Vaccines are Important and Safe for Pregnant Women

Influenza or Flu is a viral illness that appears most frequently during the winter and early spring. The effects of the flu can range from a mild cold-like illness to becoming severely sick, requiring hospitalization.

Women who are expecting are at an increased risk of developing severe flu-related illnesses due to the many changes in the immune system, heart and lungs that occur during pregnancy.

Influenza can be harmful to both mother and developing baby.   Complications from the flu can increase chances for premature delivery and is also linked to neural tube defects in growing fetuses.

The CDC highly recommends that pregnant women receive the flu shot. For 2015-2016, it is estimated that the vaccine prevented about 5 million influenza illnesses and 3,000 related deaths.

A flu shot given to a pregnant woman protects mother and baby. Research shows that mothers, who are vaccinated, will pass on some immunity to their child after birth. This reduces the risk of illness for the newborn.  The CDC finds that “The flu shot given during pregnancy has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby for several months after birth from flu.”

The vaccine is safe to get during any trimester.  There is an excellent safety record for the millions of pregnant women who received the flu shot.  We highly recommend vaccination for all pregnant women, and it is considered part of routine prenatal care.

It is important for others living in the household to get the flu shot to further protect the newborn. Babies usually get their first flu shot at the age of 6 months, so until then, they are at an increased risk of getting influenza from their environment. If an unvaccinated infant gets the flu, it can be severe and require medical management.

If you are pregnant and experiencing flu symptoms such as fever, body aches or a sore throat, call your family doctor immediately or seek medical attention.

To schedule an appointment with the Family Medicine Department at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call, 718-206-6942

Radeeb Akhtar MD. MPH. JHMC Family Medicine

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How To Check Your Blood Pressure at Home

High blood pressure or hypertension is considered “the silent killer.” There are several reasons why it is referred to as such.

Most people with high blood pressure actually feel normal; however, if the disease goes undetected and is left untreated, it can lead to heart attack or stroke. In the United States today, heart attack and stroke are leading causes of death.

It is important to get your family, friends, and even yourself checked. You can visit your doctor or check at home.

It can be easy to measure blood pressure at home- here’s how:

  1. Purchase an automatic, cuff-style, upper-arm monitor. Automatic machines usually cost from $20-$40, and are available at many pharmacies or online.
  2. Get ready to measure! Do not smoke, drink any caffeinated drinks, or exercise 30 minutes prior to measuring.
  3. Sit with your back supported, feet flat on the floor, and legs uncrossed.
  4. Place the cuff onto your arm. This arm should be resting at the level of your heart or just below the chest. The cuff should be above the elbow.
  5. Push the button to begin measurement. Relax, breathe, and do not talk during measurement.
  6. Blood pressures are measured as two numbers: a top number (systolic) and a bottom number (diastolic). Write down both numbers, the time of day you measured, and the date(“141/88, 7:00 PM, 11/13/2017” )
  7. Repeat measurement after 1 minute. Write this number down also. Keep a blood pressure diary with all your measurements.

According to the recently updated high blood pressure guidelines of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), a blood pressure less than 120/80 is normal. Numbers above this measurement are considered elevated and are cause for concern.  The ACC has provided the following categories to further define blood pressure measurements and levels:

  • Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80
  • Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89
  • Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg
  • Hypertensive crisis: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120

If your results are greater than 130 for the top number or greater than 80 for the bottom number, it is highly recommended that you see your doctor to receive a comprehensive medical examination.

If your blood pressure exceeds 180/120, the American College of Cardiology advises that you seek medical attention immediately, as this is critical.

Checking your blood pressure is important for heart health. There are also lifestyle changes that you can apply to your daily life to help you manage blood pressure levels and your health.  Lifestyle changes can include maintaining a healthy weight by eating a well- balanced diet, exercising regularly, reducing sodium intake, limiting the amount of alcohol you consume and quitting smoking.

To schedule an appointment with the Family Medicine Department at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call, 718-206-6942.

Radeeb Akhtar MD. MPH. JHMC Family  Medicine

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.