October 2006 News Tips

Note to media: To reach the media contacts for any of these health news tips, call the Office of News and Publications at 214-648-3404.

Breast-cancer revelation not solely limited to detecting lumps

Women should be aware that not every type of breast cancer reveals itself with a lump during self exams. An aggressive, fast-spreading form called inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) grows in nests or sheets of cancer cells that spread through the breast. Because it is relatively rare, IBC is often diagnosed late or even misdiagnosed as an infection.

IBC accounts for about 1 percent to 6 percent of new breast cancer cases, according to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

"The most common symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer will be redness, swelling and sometimes pain," says Dr. Debu Tripathy, who leads the Komen/UT Southwestern Medical Center Breast Cancer Research Program. "And keep in mind that for people who have darker skin, it may be difficult to appreciate the redness. Sometimes all people feel is warmth and swelling. It can very easily be mistaken for an infection."

Some patients with IBC show a retraction or flattening of the nipple. Others have a nipple discharge, an unstoppable itch or a dimpling of the skin that appears like the skin of an orange. A biopsy is necessary to make the diagnosis, Dr. Tripathy says.

IBC survival rates greatly depend on when it is diagnosed. With recent advances in breast cancer treatment, the five-year IBC survival rate is now about 50 percent, according to experts.

Dr. Tripathy advises that women consult a doctor immediately if they have breast redness, pain or other symptoms possibly associated with IBC.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/cancercenter to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in cancer.

Media Contact: Toni Heinzl

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Donning protective glasses clearly key to eye-injury prevention

Accidental eye injury is a leading cause of visual impairment nationally, yet nearly 70 percent of those injured weren't wearing protective eyewear, the main preventive measure, say ophthalmologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center, say ophthalmologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

"It's a simple thing that could make a big difference," says Dr. Preston Blomquist, a specialist in ocular trauma.
Many household chemicals — such as cleaning fluids, detergents and ammonia — are extremely hazardous and can burn the eye's delicate tissues. When using chemicals, always read instructions and labels carefully, work in a well-ventilated area and make sure spray nozzles point away from you and others. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after use. In case of a chemical burn, flush the eye with clean water.

Before using power lawn equipment, check for debris. Stones, twigs and other items can become dangerous projectiles shooting from lawnmower blades, potentially injuring the operator's eyes or those of bystanders. Wear safety glasses when using lawn equipment and while using tools in the workshop.

If you suffer an eye injury, such as a cut, a chemical burn or an object stuck in the eye, seek medical help immediately. Don't try to treat it yourself. You should also seek immediate treatment after a blow if you feel pain or lose vision, or if the eye blackens.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/ophth to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in eyes (ophthalmology).

Media Contact: Russell Rian

October is National Eye Injury Prevention Month

Think safety first, not candy, when prepping for Halloween treats

As Halloween approaches, taking a few safety precautions can ensure that trick-or-treaters and their families have a safe and enjoyable autumn holiday.

"Travel in small groups and use the buddy system," says Dr. Paul Pepe, chief of emergency medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Dr. Pepe also makes these suggestions:

  • Check the labels of costumes to make sure they are flame resistant.
  • Masks, beards and wigs should be flame safe and fit properly to prevent them from sliding over the eyes.
  • Make sure there is adult supervision for young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • Put reflective tape on costumes and treat bags and always carry a flashlight.
  • Don't run or cross the street between parked cars.
  • Exclude unfamiliar residences and check treats at home before eating them.

"And remember to say, 'Thank you,'" Dr. Pepe says.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/patientcare/medicalservices/hospitals/stpaul.html to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in emergency medicine.

Media Contact: Connie Piloto

Roll up sleeves: The clock is now running to get seasonal flu shots

Getting a flu shot in October is a great way to ward off seasonal flu this winter.

Flu season typically lasts from December to March, but the ideal time for "high-risk" people to be inoculated with the flu vaccine is now through mid-November, says Dr. James Luby, an infectious disease expert at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Although vaccine shortages have been experienced in the past, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting no short supplies this season.

The vaccine begins to protect within about two weeks after a flu shot.

"It is an effective way to prevent influenza, reduce its severity or decrease the risk of complications, such as pneumonia," Dr. Luby says.

The CDC recommends vaccination for children ages 6 months to 5 years old, pregnant women, people aged 50 and older or people of any age with chronic medical conditions. The federal agency also recommends vaccination for people who live with, or care for, at-risk people.

Experts also urge everyone to follow these tips to stay healthy:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people; avoid close contact with others when sick.
  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Try not to touch your nose, eyes or mouth.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/infectiousdiseases to learn more about
UT Southwestern’s clinical services in infectious diseases.

Media Contact: Cliff Despres



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