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Preventative vs. Reactive Healthcare: Why Prevention is Key

28/02/2024

Preventative healthcare focuses on identifying and addressing potential health issues before they develop into serious conditions. This proactive approach involves regular check-ups, screenings, vaccinations, and lifestyle modifications aimed at maintaining optimal health and preventing diseases. The Importance of Early Detection One of the primary goals of preventative healthcare is early detection. By identifying risk factors and addressing them promptly, preventative care aims to mitigate the development of chronic conditions and reduce the likelihood of complications. Routine screenings for conditions like high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and cancer can lead to early intervention, significantly improving treatment outcomes and reducing healthcare costs associated with advanced disease stages. Reactive Healthcare: Treating Symptoms After They Occur In contrast, reactive healthcare involves treating illnesses or health problems after they have already manifested. While reactive care is essential for managing acute conditions and providing immediate treatment for health emergencies, it often comes at a higher cost and may result in poorer health outcomes compared to preventative measures. The Cost of Reactive Care Reactive healthcare tends to focus on symptom management and disease treatment rather than addressing underlying causes or preventing future occurrences. This approach can lead to higher healthcare costs in the long term, as individuals may require expensive medical treatments, hospitalizations, and emergency care for untreated or advanced diseases. Empowering Individuals Through Prevention Preventative healthcare empowers individuals to take an active role in managing their health and well-being. By adopting healthy habits such as regular exercise, balanced diet, and stress management, individuals can reduce their risk of developing chronic conditions and enhance their overall quality of life. Preventative care also encourages early intervention and timely screenings, fostering a proactive approach to health maintenance and disease prevention. Investing in Prevention In conclusion, preventative healthcare offers numerous benefits compared to reactive approaches, emphasizing the importance of early detection, intervention, and lifestyle modifications in maintaining optimal health and preventing diseases. By prioritizing prevention, individuals can reduce healthcare costs, improve health outcomes, and lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. Investing in preventative measures today can yield significant dividends in terms of long-term health and well-being, making prevention truly key to achieving better health outcomes for individuals and communities alike. To find out more about the health check-up services we offer, visit our check-up center. *Image by Thirdman via Pexels

The Top 10 Tests You Should Include in Your Health Check-up

07/02/2024

Regular health check-ups are essential for maintaining optimal health and detecting potential health issues early. Including specific medical tests as part of your routine check-up can provide valuable insights into your overall well-being and help identify any underlying health concerns.  Here are the top 10 tests you should consider including in your health check-up: Blood Pressure Measurement Checking blood pressure is crucial for assessing cardiovascular health. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a significant risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular complications. Monitoring blood pressure regularly helps identify hypertension early and allows for timely intervention through lifestyle changes or medication. Cholesterol Levels (Lipid Profile) A lipid profile measures levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. High cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Screening for cholesterol levels helps assess cardiovascular risk and guide interventions such as dietary modifications, exercise, or medication to manage cholesterol levels. Blood Glucose (Blood Sugar) Test Monitoring blood glucose levels is essential for detecting diabetes or prediabetes. High blood sugar levels indicate impaired glucose metabolism, which can lead to diabetes if left untreated. Early detection allows for lifestyle modifications and interventions to prevent or manage diabetes effectively. Complete Blood Count (CBC) A complete blood count evaluates various components of blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. CBC helps diagnose conditions such as anemia, infections, and blood disorders. It provides valuable insights into overall health and helps identify underlying medical conditions. Thyroid Function Tests Thyroid function tests assess the levels of thyroid hormones (TSH, T3, T4) in the blood. Thyroid dysfunction can lead to various health issues, including fatigue, weight changes, and mood disturbances. Monitoring thyroid function helps diagnose thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism and guides appropriate treatment. Liver Function Tests (LFTs) Liver function tests evaluate liver enzymes and proteins in the blood, providing insights into liver health. Abnormal LFT results may indicate liver damage or dysfunction, which can result from various causes such as alcohol consumption, viral hepatitis, or fatty liver disease. Monitoring liver function helps diagnose liver disorders and guides management strategies. Kidney Function Tests (Renal Panel) Kidney function tests assess the levels of creatinine, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), and other markers of kidney function in the blood. Abnormal kidney function tests may indicate kidney disease or impaired kidney function. Monitoring kidney function helps detect kidney disorders early and guides interventions to prevent kidney damage. Bone Density Test (DEXA Scan) A bone density test, also known as a DEXA scan, measures bone mineral density and assesses the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. It helps diagnose osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weakened bones, and guides preventive measures such as dietary changes, exercise, and medication to maintain bone health. Colon Cancer Screening (Colonoscopy or Fecal Occult Blood Test) Colon cancer screening aims to detect colorectal cancer or precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum. Colonoscopy and fecal occult blood tests are common screening methods used to identify abnormalities in the colon. Early detection through colon cancer screening improves treatment outcomes and reduces mortality from colorectal cancer. Breast Cancer Screening (Mammography) Mammography is a screening test used to detect breast cancer in its early stages. It involves imaging the breast tissue to identify abnormal changes such as lumps or calcifications. Regular mammograms help detect breast cancer early, when it is most treatable, and increase the chances of successful treatment and survival. Including these essential medical tests in your health check-up provides a comprehensive assessment of your health and helps identify any potential health concerns early. Regular monitoring and early detection enable timely interventions and preventive measures, contributing to better health outcomes and overall well-being. To find out more about the health check-up services we offer, visit our check-up center. *Image by Bruno Pixabay

Women's Health: The Importance of Regular Check-ups

29/01/2024

Women's health needs are diverse and unique, underscoring the importance of regular check-ups as a fundamental component of proactive healthcare. Routine examinations play a pivotal role in addressing specific health concerns, preventing potential issues, and promoting overall well-being for women across various life stages. 1. Reproductive Health Women's reproductive health involves a complex interplay of factors, including menstrual health, contraception, fertility, and menopause. Regular health check-ups allow healthcare providers to monitor menstrual cycles, address concerns related to reproductive organs, and provide guidance on family planning, fertility, and hormonal changes associated with menopause. 2. Breast Health Breast cancer is a significant health concern for women. Regular breast examinations and mammograms are crucial components of routine check-ups. Early detection through screenings enhances treatment options and significantly improves outcomes in cases of breast cancer, emphasizing the importance of preventive care. 3. Pelvic Health Pelvic health is a vital aspect of women's well-being. Routine check-ups include pelvic exams to assess the health of the reproductive organs, screen for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and identify any abnormalities or signs of gynecological conditions. Regular examinations contribute to early detection and effective management of pelvic health issues. 4. Bone Health Women are more prone to osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weakened bones. Bone density screenings during check-ups help assess bone health, enabling preventive measures to maintain bone density and reduce the risk of fractures, particularly as women age. 5. Cervical Health Cervical cancer is a preventable condition through regular Pap smears and human papillomavirus (HPV) screenings. Health check-ups for women include these screenings to detect abnormalities in cervical cells early, allowing for interventions that prevent the development of cervical cancer. 6. Cardiovascular Health Cardiovascular diseases impact women, and routine health check-ups assess risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and overall heart health. Early detection enables lifestyle modifications and interventions that contribute to cardiovascular well-being. 7. Mental Health Women may face unique mental health challenges, including mood disorders, anxiety, and postpartum depression. Regular health check-ups provide opportunities to discuss mental health concerns, receive support, and access appropriate interventions, fostering overall emotional well-being. 8. Hormonal Health Hormonal imbalances can affect various aspects of women's health, including menstrual regularity, fertility, and overall well-being. Health check-ups may involve assessments of hormonal levels, allowing for interventions and treatments to address hormonal imbalances and associated symptoms. 9. Lifestyle Counseling Women's health check-ups often include discussions about lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and stress management. Healthcare providers offer guidance on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing weight, and adopting habits that contribute to overall well-being. In conclusion, regular health check-ups are essential for addressing the unique health needs of women. From reproductive and gynecological health to cardiovascular well-being and mental health, routine examinations empower women to take charge of their health, prevent potential issues, and maintain overall well-being across various life stages. By prioritizing regular check-ups, women invest in their health and contribute to a healthier and more fulfilling life. To find out more about the health check-up services we offer, visit our check-up center. *Image by StockSnap Pixabay

Men's Health Matters: The Role of Health Check-ups for Men

23/01/2024

Men's health is a critical aspect of overall well-being, and regular health check-ups play a pivotal role in maintaining and enhancing the quality of life for men. While men are often less inclined to prioritize their health, routine check-ups are essential for addressing specific health concerns and preventing potential issues that can significantly impact their longevity and overall well-being. Cardiovascular Health Heart disease is a leading cause of mortality for men. Regular health check-ups monitor blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other cardiovascular indicators. Early detection of high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol allows for lifestyle modifications or medication interventions, reducing the risk of heart-related issues. Prostate Health Prostate health is a key concern for men, particularly as they age. Prostate cancer is a common condition, and regular check-ups, including prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screenings, aid in early detection. Early intervention and treatment can significantly improve outcomes and reduce the impact of prostate-related health issues. Testicular Health Testicular cancer is most common among young men. Routine health check-ups include testicular examinations, which can aid in the early detection of abnormalities. Timely identification and treatment contribute to higher survival rates and minimize the impact on reproductive health. Mental Health Mental health is a vital component of overall well-being for men. Regular health check-ups provide an opportunity to address mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety. Open discussions with healthcare providers can lead to appropriate interventions, counseling, or referrals to mental health professionals when needed. Diabetes Prevention and Management Men are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Health check-ups monitor blood sugar levels and assess diabetes risk factors. Early detection allows for lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, and medication management, reducing the risk of complications associated with diabetes. Colon Cancer Screening Colon cancer is a significant health concern for men. Regular health check-ups may include colonoscopies or other screening tests, particularly for those with a family history of colorectal cancer. Early detection and removal of precancerous polyps can prevent the development of colon cancer. Bone Health Osteoporosis is often associated with women, but men are also at risk. Health check-ups may involve bone density screenings to assess bone health. Early detection enables interventions to prevent fractures and maintain overall skeletal well-being. Lifestyle Counseling Regular health check-ups offer opportunities for lifestyle counseling, focusing on diet, exercise, and substance use. Healthcare providers can offer guidance on maintaining a healthy weight, incorporating physical activity, and making informed choices that positively impact men's overall health. By addressing these specific health concerns through regular check-ups, men can take proactive steps towards preventive care and early intervention. Embracing routine health assessments not only contributes to a longer and healthier life but also improves the overall quality of life by minimizing the impact of preventable health issues. Regular health check-ups empower men to make informed decisions about their well-being and take control of their health outcomes. To find out more about the health check-up services we offer, visit our check-up center. *Image by Pexels via Pixabay

Health Check-ups at Different Life Phases

08/01/2024

Health check-ups evolve and adapt to meet the changing health needs of individuals as they progress through different life stages. Tailored healthcare during various phases of life plays a pivotal role in ensuring optimal health and well-being, impacting one's quality of life significantly. Childhood and Adolescence:During childhood and adolescence, health check-ups focus on growth and development, immunizations, and early detection of health issues. Pediatricians monitor growth milestones, conduct developmental screenings, and administer vaccines according to recommended schedules. These check-ups also emphasize preventive care, promoting healthy habits and addressing issues such as nutrition, safety, and mental health. Young Adulthood:In young adulthood, health check-ups often become less frequent unless specific health concerns arise. Routine screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may become more relevant. These check-ups may also focus on reproductive health, family planning, and lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, and mental well-being. Middle Adulthood:As individuals enter middle adulthood, health check-ups tend to become more comprehensive and frequent. Screenings for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer become more crucial. These check-ups also encompass discussions about managing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, and screenings for conditions more common in this age group, such as colon cancer. Senior Years:Health check-ups for seniors become more frequent and comprehensive, addressing age-related health concerns. These may include screenings for osteoporosis, cognitive decline, vision and hearing impairment, and evaluations of balance and mobility. Monitoring chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis becomes a primary focus, along with discussions about end-of-life care preferences and advanced care planning. Tailored healthcare at different life stages is crucial for several reasons: Early Detection and Prevention:Health check-ups at every life stage emphasize early detection and prevention of health issues. Detecting conditions early allows for timely interventions, potentially preventing the progression of diseases and improving treatment outcomes. Managing Age-Related Changes:Tailored healthcare addresses age-specific health concerns and changes, ensuring that individuals receive appropriate screenings, vaccinations, and guidance to manage conditions commonly associated with their life stage. Improving Quality of Life:Regular check-ups facilitate the management of chronic conditions, promoting better health outcomes and enhancing the overall quality of life. By addressing health concerns proactively, individuals can better maintain their independence and well-being as they age. In conclusion, health check-ups at different life stages are essential for adapting healthcare to evolving needs. Tailored healthcare, emphasizing preventive care, early detection, and condition management, significantly impacts an individual's quality of life by ensuring proactive health measures appropriate to each stage of life. To find out more about the health check-up services we offer, visit our check-up center. *Image by Sibeal Artworks from Pixabay

Senior Health: Promoting Well-being Through Regular Check-ups

24/11/2023

As individuals age, their health needs change, often necessitating a more comprehensive and tailored approach to healthcare. Senior health encompasses a range of unique concerns, from managing chronic conditions to maintaining mobility and mental well-being. Regular check-ups play a pivotal role in promoting the well-being of seniors, facilitating early detection, management, and prevention of age-related health issues, thus contributing significantly to their independence and quality of life. One of the primary focuses of senior health check-ups is the management of chronic conditions that become more prevalent with age. Conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and osteoporosis often require continuous monitoring and adjustment of treatment plans. Regular check-ups enable healthcare providers to assess the progression of these conditions, make necessary alterations in medications or lifestyle recommendations, and prevent complications that could affect seniors' independence. Furthermore, regular health check-ups for seniors encompass screenings and assessments specifically tailored to detect age-related diseases. These may include screenings for cognitive decline, vision and hearing loss, cancer, bone density, and immunizations against diseases such as influenza and pneumonia. Early detection through these screenings allows for timely interventions, potentially preventing the advancement of certain conditions and maintaining seniors' autonomy. Mobility and functional ability are critical components of independent living for seniors. Health check-ups often include evaluations of balance, strength, and flexibility. Identifying issues related to mobility early on allows healthcare providers to recommend exercises, physical therapy, or assistive devices that can help seniors maintain their mobility and prevent falls, which can have severe consequences in older age. Mental health is another crucial aspect addressed during senior health check-ups. Conditions like depression and anxiety can often go unnoticed or untreated in older adults. Regular check-ups provide an opportunity for healthcare providers to assess seniors' mental well-being, offer support, and intervene if necessary, thus improving their overall quality of life. Preventive care is paramount in senior health. Regular check-ups not only address existing health concerns but also focus on preventive measures to reduce the risk of future health issues. Lifestyle counseling, such as advice on nutrition, exercise, and smoking cessation, is commonly integrated into these check-ups, empowering seniors to make healthier choices that can positively impact their well-being. Moreover, regular health check-ups for seniors foster a strong doctor-patient relationship. This connection allows healthcare providers to understand their patients' needs, preferences, and values, leading to more personalized care and informed decision-making regarding treatment options. In essence, promoting well-being through regular check-ups is integral to senior health. These check-ups serve as a proactive approach to maintaining health, managing existing conditions, and preventing potential complications that could jeopardize seniors' independence and quality of life. By addressing the unique health concerns of seniors holistically, regular check-ups empower them to age with dignity, vitality, and a higher level of autonomy, enabling them to lead fulfilling lives as they navigate the aging process. To find out more about the health check-up services we offer, visit our check-up center. *Photo by Kampus Production via Pexels

The Financial Benefits of Health Check-ups

09/11/2023

Health check-ups are not only essential for your overall well-being but can also prove to be a smart financial decision. Many people often perceive healthcare costs as an expense, but in reality, investing in regular health check-ups can save you a significant amount of money in the long run. Let's delve into some of the financial benefits of health check-ups and how they contribute to long-term cost savings. Early Disease Detection: Health check-ups are designed to identify health issues in their early stages. Detecting a condition at an early stage often means simpler and more cost-effective treatments. For instance, discovering high blood pressure early through routine check-ups can lead to lifestyle changes and medication, which is far less expensive than treating the consequences of uncontrolled hypertension like heart attacks or strokes. Prevention is Cheaper than Cure: Preventive care, which includes vaccinations, screenings, and health check-ups, is less expensive than dealing with a full-blown illness or chronic condition. For example, vaccinations are a cost-effective way to prevent serious diseases such as flu, hepatitis, and certain types of cancer. Reduced Emergency Room Visits: Neglecting regular health check-ups can result in unexpected, costly visits to the emergency room when health conditions worsen. These emergency visits can be avoided through regular preventive care, saving you from expensive medical bills. Lower Medication Costs: Health check-ups can help monitor chronic conditions like diabetes and high cholesterol. By managing these conditions effectively, you can reduce the need for costly medications or complications related to uncontrolled illnesses. Lower Insurance Premiums: Some health insurance plans offer discounts or incentives for policyholders who actively engage in preventive care, including routine check-ups. By taking advantage of these benefits, you can lower your overall healthcare costs. Decreased Productivity Loss: Falling seriously ill can result in extended periods of missed work, which can have a direct impact on your income. Regular health check-ups can help you maintain good health, reducing the likelihood of major illnesses that can lead to significant productivity losses. Avoiding Expensive Surgeries: Detecting and managing health issues early can often prevent the need for expensive surgical procedures. For example, identifying and treating gallstones early can prevent the need for costly gallbladder removal surgery. Peace of Mind: Regular health check-ups can provide peace of mind. Knowing that you are in good health and receiving reassurance from your healthcare provider can reduce stress and anxiety, which can have financial benefits in terms of improved mental well-being. In conclusion, the financial benefits of health check-ups cannot be overstated. By investing in preventive care, you not only protect your health but also your financial stability. The old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," certainly applies when it comes to healthcare. Taking proactive measures through regular health check-ups is a small price to pay for the substantial cost savings and the priceless gift of good health and peace of mind. So, make sure to schedule your next health check-up, not just as an expense, but as a smart financial move that will benefit you in the long run. To find out more about the health check-up services we offer, visit our check-up center. *Photo by Pavel Danilyuk via Pexels

Second Opinions in Cancer Care: What You Need to Know

17/10/2023

A cancer diagnosis is one of the most life-altering events an individual can face. It comes with a wave of emotions, questions, and decisions that can be overwhelming. In this context, seeking a second medical opinion is not only a right but a valuable step to consider. Second opinions in cancer care can provide critical information, clarity, and peace of mind during a time of uncertainty. The Emotional Impact of a Cancer Diagnosis A cancer diagnosis can be emotionally devastating. Patients often experience fear, anxiety, and a sense of urgency to make decisions about their treatment. At this point, emotions can cloud judgment, and it becomes even more crucial to have a clear understanding of your diagnosis and treatment options. Why Seek a Second Opinion? Confirming the Diagnosis: Mistakes can occur in the diagnosis process. Seeking a second opinion can confirm the diagnosis, ensuring that the right type and stage of cancer are accurately identified. Understanding Treatment Options: Cancer treatment is complex and rapidly evolving. A second opinion can provide a fresh perspective on the best treatment options available, which may include different types of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or clinical trials. Exploring Alternative Approaches: Different cancer centers may have access to varied treatment approaches, including innovative therapies and clinical trials. A second opinion can help you explore alternative treatments not considered in your initial evaluation. Optimizing Your Treatment Plan: In some cases, a second opinion can lead to treatment plan adjustments that offer improved outcomes. This can involve refining the timing of treatments or integrating multiple modalities for a more comprehensive approach. When to Seek a Second Opinion The decision to seek a second opinion in cancer care is highly personal. However, there are specific scenarios where it's particularly advisable: Rare or Aggressive Cancers: For rare cancers or those with an aggressive nature, multiple perspectives can help guide treatment decisions. Complex Cases: Complex cases involving multiple types of cancer or tumors in challenging locations can benefit from additional expert insights. Discrepancies in Diagnosis: If you receive conflicting diagnoses or are unsure about your treatment options, a second opinion can clarify the situation. Prior to Starting Treatment: Seeking a second opinion before initiating treatment is a common practice and can provide peace of mind and ensure the chosen approach aligns with the best available evidence. The Process of Obtaining a Second Opinion Consult with Your Current Healthcare Provider: Begin by discussing your desire for a second opinion with your current oncologist. They should be supportive of your decision and can provide you with medical records, test results, and any relevant information. Research and Identify Specialists: Identify cancer centers, specialists, or oncologists with expertise in your type of cancer. Consider seeking out National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers, which are at the forefront of cancer research and treatment. Request a Consultation: Contact the selected specialists or cancer centers to request a consultation. Many institutions offer remote or virtual second opinions, making the process more accessible. Consultation and Review: During the consultation, the specialist will review your medical records and may conduct additional tests or assessments. They will then discuss their findings and recommendations with you. Discussion and Decision: Engage in open and honest discussions with the specialist about your diagnosis and treatment options. Take time to ask questions and make an informed decision. Challenges and Considerations While second opinions in cancer care can be highly beneficial, they come with certain challenges and considerations: Insurance Coverage: Check with your health insurance provider to understand coverage for second opinions. In many cases, insurance will cover the cost. Coordination of Care: Ensure that your primary oncologist and the specialist providing the second opinion communicate effectively to create a cohesive care plan. Emotional Impact: Seeking a second opinion can be emotionally taxing, as it involves confronting the diagnosis and the uncertainty of the situation. Final thoughts A cancer diagnosis is a life-altering event, and the decisions made in the initial stages can significantly impact the journey ahead. Seeking a second opinion in cancer care is a proactive and wise step to ensure the most accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. It offers valuable insights, clarity, and confidence during a time when these aspects are most needed. While it may seem challenging, remember that the goal of seeking a second opinion is to make well-informed choices about your health, with the ultimate aim of achieving the best possible outcome in your cancer journey. Here at France Surgery, we can provide you with a second medical opinion in France from just €450. If you’ve recently had a diagnosis and you’ve got some doubts, contact us now to benefit from a second medical opinion. *Photo by Chokniti Khongchum via Pexels

When to Seek a Second Medical Opinion: Red Flags and Scenarios

06/10/2023

When it comes to your health, decisions about diagnoses and treatment plans are often life-altering. While most healthcare professionals are dedicated to providing the best care possible, the complexity of medicine means that misdiagnoses or suboptimal treatment options can occur. This is where seeking a second medical opinion becomes crucial, and understanding when to do so can make all the difference. Complex or Rare Diagnoses One of the most compelling reasons to consider a second medical opinion is when faced with a complex or rare medical condition. These conditions often challenge even the most experienced healthcare providers, and consulting with multiple experts can lead to a more accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. For instance, a rare genetic disorder or an unusual presentation of a common condition might warrant seeking additional perspectives. Serious or Life-Threatening Diagnoses When the stakes are high, such as in cases of serious or life-threatening illnesses like cancer, heart disease, or neurological disorders, it's prudent to explore all available options. Seeking a second opinion can provide peace of mind and ensure that the recommended treatment aligns with the best available evidence and expert consensus. Dissatisfaction with Current Treatment Plans If you find yourself feeling uneasy about your current treatment plan or you believe it isn't delivering the expected results, it's a valid reason to seek a second medical opinion. This is particularly important in chronic conditions where the treatment may need adjustments over time. A fresh perspective can uncover alternative approaches that may be more effective or better suited to your individual needs. Questions About Surgery Decisions regarding surgery should be approached with caution. If surgery is recommended, especially for complex or invasive procedures, seeking a second opinion is advisable. This can confirm the necessity of the surgery, explore less invasive options, or ensure that you are fully informed about the risks and benefits. Medication Side Effects or Allergic Reactions Experiencing unexpected or severe side effects from prescribed medications can be distressing. In such cases, it's essential to consult with another healthcare provider to evaluate whether the medication is appropriate for you or if there are safer alternatives. Persistent or Worsening Symptoms When your symptoms persist or worsen despite treatment, it could indicate an underlying issue that hasn't been addressed. Seeking a second opinion can help uncover the root cause of your health problems and prevent unnecessary suffering or complications. Complex Treatment Plans In cases where treatment plans involve multiple medications, therapies, or lifestyle changes, seeking a second opinion can provide clarity. It can help you ensure that the treatment regimen is well-coordinated, evidence-based, and aligns with your overall health goals. Concerns About Misdiagnosis If you suspect that you may have been misdiagnosed or have received conflicting opinions from different healthcare providers, seeking a second medical opinion is not only a right but a responsibility to your health. Misdiagnoses can lead to delayed or incorrect treatments, potentially causing harm. Peace of Mind and Confidence Sometimes, the decision to seek a second opinion is not based on specific concerns but rather a desire for peace of mind. Healthcare decisions are deeply personal, and you have the right to feel confident and fully informed about your treatment choices. A second opinion can offer reassurance and confidence in your healthcare journey. Final Thoughts In conclusion, knowing when to seek a second medical opinion is as crucial as the decision itself. It is not a sign of mistrust in your healthcare provider but rather a proactive approach to ensure the best possible care and outcomes. Ultimately, your health and well-being are paramount, and seeking additional perspectives when facing significant medical decisions can lead to more accurate diagnoses and more effective treatments, ultimately improving your quality of life. Here at France Surgery, we can provide you with a second medical opinion in France from just €450. If you’ve recently had a diagnosis and you’ve got some doubts, contact us now to benefit from a second medical opinion. *Image by valelopardo from Pixabay

Why it’s important to see a doctor when you feel like something’s wrong

09/06/2023

Your body has an incredible ability to communicate with you, often alerting you when something doesn't feel quite right. Whether it's a persistent pain, an unusual symptom, or simply a gut feeling that something is off, paying attention to these signals is crucial for maintaining your health and well-being. In such situations, seeking prompt medical attention from a qualified doctor can make all the difference. This article highlights the importance of seeing a doctor when you suspect something might be wrong and why it is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Early detection improves prognosis One of the most significant reasons to consult a doctor when you have concerns about your health is the potential for early detection of serious conditions. Many illnesses and diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular problems, and chronic conditions, can manifest with subtle warning signs. By visiting a doctor promptly, you increase the likelihood of catching potential issues in their early stages, when they are often more treatable and have better prognoses. Accurate diagnosis and treatment When you try to self-diagnose or rely on unreliable sources, you run the risk of misidentifying your symptoms or underestimating their severity. Only a trained healthcare professional can conduct a thorough examination, review your medical history, and order appropriate tests to provide an accurate diagnosis. Timely and accurate diagnosis is the key to effective treatment. Without it, you may delay necessary interventions or resort to ineffective remedies, potentially exacerbating the problem and jeopardizing your health. Prevention and proactive healthcare Regular check-ups and preventive care are essential for maintaining optimal health. Even if you feel fine, routine medical visits allow doctors to monitor your well-being, identify potential risk factors, and suggest necessary lifestyle modifications to prevent future health issues. By seeing a doctor when you suspect something is wrong, you actively engage in proactive healthcare, prioritizing prevention rather than waiting for a crisis to occur. Prevention is not only more cost-effective but also leads to better health outcomes and a higher quality of life in the long run. Professional guidance and peace of mind Navigating the vast sea of medical information available on the internet can be overwhelming and misleading. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment based on unverified sources can lead to unnecessary anxiety or inadequate care. Consulting a doctor provides you with expert guidance based on years of medical education and experience. A healthcare professional can help alleviate your concerns, provide accurate information, and offer appropriate treatment options, giving you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you are in capable hands. A holistic approach to health Doctors are not just there to treat specific ailments; they are also trained to consider the bigger picture of your overall health and well-being. When you seek medical attention, a doctor will assess your symptoms within the context of your medical history, lifestyle, and personal circumstances. They can identify underlying factors that may contribute to your symptoms and provide comprehensive care that addresses your physical, mental, and emotional needs. This holistic approach can help you achieve optimal health and prevent future health issues. Final thoughts When you sense that something is wrong with your body, it's crucial not to ignore the signs or rely solely on self-diagnosis. Seeking medical attention from a qualified doctor is a prudent decision that can save lives, lead to accurate diagnoses and appropriate treatments, facilitate preventive care, provide professional guidance, and ensure a holistic approach to your well-being. Remember, your health is too precious to gamble with, so trust your instincts, prioritize your well-being, and make that appointment with a doctor when you suspect something might be wrong. Your future self will thank you. At France Surgery, we can help you get a second opinion from our network of medical experts in France. Contact us today to find out more. *Image by Max from Pixabay

Medical tourism vs. health & wellness tourism: Understanding the differences

11/05/2023

Medical tourism and health and wellness tourism are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are not one and the same. While both involve traveling to another country for healthcare purposes, there are important differences to note between the two. Primarily, medical tourism refers to traveling abroad for medical procedures and treatments that are not available, affordable, or accessible in the home country. These procedures are typically focused on diagnosing and treating specific medical conditions or illnesses, such as heart surgery, cancer treatment, or organ transplants. Medical tourism is often seen as a way for patients to save money on expensive medical procedures, while also receiving high-quality care from qualified professionals. On the other hand, health and wellness tourism is focused on preventative care and promoting overall health and wellbeing. This type of tourism typically involves activities such as spa treatments, yoga retreats, and fitness programs that aim to improve physical, mental, and emotional health. Health and wellness tourism is becoming increasingly popular as people look for ways to take a break from their busy lives and prioritize self-care. While medical tourism and health and wellness tourism may seem like two completely different things, there are some areas where they overlap. For example, some medical tourism destinations also offer health and wellness programs, such as nutrition counseling, stress management, and mindfulness training, to help patients recover and maintain their health after medical procedures. Another area where the two types of tourism intersect is in the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Many medical tourism destinations offer CAM therapies, such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, and massage therapy, as part of their treatment programs. Similarly, many health and wellness tourism destinations incorporate CAM practices into their programs as well, to provide a more holistic approach to health and wellness. In conclusion, medical tourism and health and wellness tourism are two distinct types of tourism that serve different purposes. Medical tourism is focused on treating specific medical conditions, while health and wellness tourism is focused on promoting overall health and wellbeing. However, there are some areas where the two types of tourism intersect, such as the use of CAM therapies and the incorporation of health and wellness programs into medical tourism destinations. It’s important for travelers to understand the differences between these two types of tourism to ensure they choose the right type of travel experience for their needs. *image credit: Couleur from Pixabay  [Related reading: The benefits of partnering with a reputable company for medical treatment abroad]

The evolution of Medical Tourism: From spa retreats to surgery

13/04/2023

Medical tourism has come a long way since its early days, when it was predominantly a niche industry catering to wealthy clients seeking spa retreats in exotic locations. Today, medical tourism encompasses a wide range of medical procedures, from cosmetic surgery to complex organ transplants, and is a booming global industry estimated to be worth $11.56 billion in 2020. The origins of medical tourism can be traced back to ancient Greece, where pilgrims traveled to temples dedicated to Asclepius, the god of medicine, to seek healing. In modern times, medical tourism began to gain popularity in the 1990s, as patients from developed countries started to seek affordable healthcare options in developing countries like Thailand, India, and Mexico. In its early days, medical tourism was primarily focused on cosmetic surgery, dental procedures, and elective treatments like weight loss surgeries. Patients were attracted to the lower costs of these procedures, as well as the opportunity to combine medical treatment with a vacation or retreat. However, as medical tourism became more mainstream, it began to encompass a wider range of medical procedures, including complex surgeries like heart transplants, liver transplants, and cancer treatments. Patients from developed countries were attracted not only to the lower costs of these treatments, but also to the high-quality medical care provided by experienced and well-trained doctors. Today, medical tourism is a global industry that spans the globe, with patients traveling from all corners of the world to seek medical treatment in countries like France. The industry is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, driven by factors like rising healthcare costs, increased globalization, and advances in medical technology. Despite its many benefits, medical tourism is not without its challenges. Patients who choose to travel abroad for medical treatment must navigate complex legal, logistical, and cultural barriers, and must carefully research the quality and reputation of the medical providers they are considering. [Related reading: The benefits of partnering with a reputable company for medical treatment abroad] Overall, medical tourism has come a long way since its early days as a luxury retreat for the wealthy. Today, it is a global industry that is transforming healthcare, providing patients with affordable, high-quality medical care and driving innovation in the field of medicine. If you'd like to find out more about our own Medical Tourism services, contact us now. *Image by Tesa Robbins from Pixabay 

Preventative Care for Women: Understanding the Importance of Regular Gynecological Exams and Breast

19/01/2023

Preventative care for women is crucial for maintaining good health and detecting potential health problems early on. One important aspect of preventative care for women is regular gynecological exams and breast cancer screenings. These exams and screenings can help detect and prevent a variety of health issues, including cancer, sexually transmitted infections, and other conditions that can impact women's reproductive health. A gynecological exam is a routine check-up that includes a pelvic exam and a pap smear. During a pelvic exam, a healthcare provider will examine a woman's reproductive organs, including the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. A pap smear, also known as a cervical cancer screening, is a test that looks for abnormal cells on the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. Regular pelvic exams and pap smears are important for detecting cervical cancer and other conditions, such as endometriosis and ovarian cysts, in their early stages. In addition to gynecological exams, regular breast cancer screenings are also an important part of preventative care for women. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, and early detection is key to survival. There are two main types of breast cancer screenings: mammograms and clinical breast exams. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast, and a clinical breast exam is a physical examination of the breast by a healthcare provider. Both types of screenings can help detect breast cancer early, when the chances of treating it are higher. It is recommended that women between the ages of 50 and 74 have a mammogram every two years, and women over the age of 75 should continue to have mammograms as long as they are in good health. Women between the ages of 40 and 49 should talk to their healthcare provider about when to start having mammograms and how often to have them. Regular gynecological exams and breast cancer screenings can be a daunting prospect for some women, but they are important for maintaining good health. It is important to remember that these exams and screenings are not just about detecting cancer, but also about detecting and preventing other conditions that can affect women's reproductive health. It's important for women to make sure they are aware of their body and any changes that happen. It's also important for them to communicate with their healthcare provider about any concerns they have. They should be aware of the different types of screenings and tests that are available to them and understand the benefits of these tests. *Image by Alisa Dyson from Pixabay 

5 ways to ward off health issues

12/01/2023

As they say, “prevention is better than cure”, yet many people only visit their healthcare physician when they feel significantly unwell. Sometimes, sadly, depending on how long they have left it, their treatment options and prognoses can be more limited. Early detection and intervention of health issues can have several benefits. Some of the main reasons why it's important to identify health issues early include: – Increased treatment options: If a health issue is detected early, there may be more treatment options available, and the treatment may also be less aggressive and more effective. – Improved outcomes: Early detection and treatment of health issues can lead to better outcomes, such as a greater chance of recovery or remission. – Reduced risk of complications: Early detection can help to reduce the risk of complications from a health issue, such as the development of chronic conditions or secondary illnesses. – Increased chance of survival: For some health issues, such as certain types of cancer, early detection can greatly increase your chance of survival. – Cost savings: Treating health issues in their early stages can be less expensive than waiting until they are more advanced and harder to treat. This can also reduce the burden on the healthcare system. Overall, early detection is crucial for preventing or minimizing the consequences of a disease, which is why preventive screenings, regular check-ups, and being aware of potential health concerns are important. Here are 5 ways you can ward off health issues: 1. Eat a balanced diet: Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help to keep the body healthy and ward off disease. 2. Get regular exercise: Regular physical activity has been shown to improve overall health, reducing the risk of chronic disease, and promoting longevity. 3. Get enough sleep: Getting adequate sleep is essential for maintaining good health and can help to improve immune function and prevent chronic disease. 4. Manage stress: Chronic stress can have a negative impact on overall health, so it's important to find ways to manage and reduce stress, such as through meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques. 5. Preventive health screenings: Regular check-ups and screening tests can help to detect and prevent health issues in their early stages, when they are more treatable. This includes tests like blood pressure, cholesterol, cancer screening,and sexual health checks.

What is preventative care?

15/12/2022

Most people only see their doctor when they are sick. This is referred to as ‘diagnostic care’ and it usually involves your physician running tests and carrying out examinations to determine what’s wrong with you. As its name suggests, preventative care, on the other hand, focuses on helping you stay as healthy as possible. It does so primarily through regular physical examinations or check ups, which can often identify a range of medical issues before they develop into something more major.  Examples of preventative care The concept of preventative care is all about being proactive rather than reactive. This means taking advantage of the resources and services that are available to you to help avoid more serious medical problems going forward. Examples of preventative care include: – Annual physical examination or check up – Laboratory and screening tests carried out during a check up – Yearly flu shots  – Routine vaccinations – Yearly mammograms (usually for women 40 and older) – Colonoscopy (usually one every 10 years for those 50 and older) The benefits of preventative care As we’ve already mentioned, preventative care is designed to identify any potential health issues early on before they become a more serious problem. Doing so affords a number of benefits, including: – Better prognosis (this is especially true for certain cancers) – Greater treatment responses – Lower healthcare costs – Overall peace of mind for you While preventative care is important for everyone, it can be particularly beneficial for those who have a family history of certain conditions. Your physician will take this into account during any regular examinations you have, tailoring your tests to look for specific issues. Preventive care costs Depending on the type of insurance you have, preventative care is often 100% covered. However, if you’re in any doubt, it’s always best to contact your insurance provider in the first instance. If preventative care is indeed covered by your insurance, taking advantage really is something that shouldn’t require much thought. The benefits are numerous and the peace of mind you can afford from doing so is priceless. *image courtesy of batian lu from Pixabay

Laboratory & screening tests you can expect during a physical exam

09/12/2022

Following on from our post last week on what to expect during a physical examination, today’s blog will explain some of the laboratory and screening tests you may also undergo. Now it’s important to note that there are no standard laboratory or screening tests during a physical exam, so what you are advised to have will depend on your physician and health history. Laboratory tests during a physical exam The main laboratory tests you are likely to undergo during a physical exam are: – Complete blood count (CBC) – A CBC is a blood test that helps evaluate your overall health and detect a wide range of conditions, including anemia, infection and leukemia. – Chemistry panel – A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) will include an electrolyte panel (which measures levels of sodium, chloride, potassium and bicarbonate), kidney function tests, liver function tests and also measures glucose and calcium. – Blood glucose – To look for signs of diabetes or pre-diabetes. – Urinalysis – Using a sample of your urine, this test can detect a range of conditions, including urinary tract infections, kidney disease and diabetes. – Fecalysis – A stool sample test (fecalysis) can detect certain conditions affecting your digestive tract, including parasites, viruses, bacteria, poor nutrient absorption and even cancer. Screening tests during a physical exam In addition to the laboratory tests outlined above, you may also undergo the following screening tests: For women: – Mammogram – A screening test for breast cancer, usually recommended for women 40 and over – Pap smear – A screening test for cervical cancer, usually recommended for women 21 and older For men: – Prostate exam – A digital rectal exam is the most common method used for physically checking your prostate, while a PSA test measures the level of prostate-specific antigen in your blood – both of which can flag early signs of prostate cancer. – Testicular exam – A physical exam that checks both testicles for signs of abnormality, including lumps, changes in size, and tenderness. – Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) screening – This simple ultrasound looks for a bulge or swelling in the aorta, and is usually recommended for men 65 and over, as they are most at risk. Both men and women: – Cholesterol test – Also called a ‘lipid panel’, this checks your cholesterol levels to see if you are at risk of heart attack or stroke. – Osteoporosis - A bone density scan can help reveal potential issues relating to weak bones. – Hepatitis – Everyone should be tested for hepatitis C at least once to find out if they have ever been infected with the virus. – Colorectal – A colonoscopy is usually used to check for colorectal cancer and other abnormalities in your colon. If you are a smoker, or have a family history of certain conditions, your physician may also recommend further tests in addition to those above. * Image by Ernesto Eslava from Pixabay 

Why regular health check ups are a must

24/11/2022

Regular health check ups can help with everything from weight and blood pressure monitoring to early detection of more serious issues. Yet a significant proportion of people simply neglect to have them frequently. Indeed, according to a new national poll from NORC at the University of Chicago and the West Health Institute, around 40 percent of Americans reported skipping a recommended medical test or treatment. Meanwhile, 44 percent said they neglected to see a doctor despite being sick or injured in the last year because of cost. Separate research also reveals that men are more likely to miss health check ups, with a third of men thinking they do not need annual health screenings. The Harris Poll, which surveyed people nationally, also found that two-thirds of men believe they are “naturally healthier than others in general.” The benefits of regular health check ups First and foremost, regular health check ups can help detect medical conditions while they are still in their early stages, which can yield a number of follow on benefits. For example, an early cancer diagnosis can significantly improve a patient’s outcome. Treatment can be given sooner, increasing the chances of a patient responding positively. Furthermore, when medical conditions are diagnosed earlier, the chances of them becoming more severe are lessened. In turn, this means that healthcare interventions and associated costs are, inevitably, greatly reduced. Then there is the peace of mind that can be afforded through regular health check ups. Instead of wondering whether the few symptoms you are experiencing are serious, isn’t it better to get checked out and put your mind at ease? Finally, regular health check ups also serve to strengthen your relationship with doctors and physicians. By building mutual trust, more open and honest conversations can be had, which often lead to swifter diagnoses. Final thoughts When was the last time you had a health check up? On an annual basis wouldn’t be a bad start. Whether you are young or old, regular health check ups are important. Most medical conditions do not discriminate, which means staying abreast of any changes with your body is so important. Chances are you’ll be given a clean bill of health on a regular basis. But with regular health check ups, you stand a significantly greater chance of any potential medical issues being discovered early and, potentially, before they become a bigger problem. *Image by tomwieden from Pixabay 

Vitamin D deficiency may increase premature death risk

26/10/2022

It's often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, and now new research shows that vitamin D could prolong your life. According to a study by researchers from the University of South Australia, there is a causal relationship between vitamin D deficiency and premature death. For the study, the researchers recruited over 300,000 individuals, aged 37-73, from the UK Biobank. They obtained the participants' genetic data, as well as their vitamin D serum levels. Over a 14-year follow-up period, the researchers recorded all-cause mortality and deaths caused by cancer, cardiovascular disease respiratory disease. At the end of the research period, there had been 18,700 deaths. Further analysis revealed that the risk of death decreased significantly with increasing vitamin D levels, but that this effect plateaued when serum levels reached 50 nmol/L. “In this study, we found evidence for a benefit across all the main causes of death, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory disease-related mortality,” said study author Elina Hypponen, PhD, a University of South Australia professor and director of the Australian Centre for Precision Health. “However, in most cases, any benefit for increasing vitamin D levels was restricted to those individuals who have very low concentrations,” she added. *Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay 

New wearable device can track tumors in real time

20/10/2022

A revolutionary new wearable sensor, which tracks tumors in real time, could provide invaluable insights into how cancer cells respond to treatments. The new device can report in real time how a tumor is growing or shrinking. The results are sent wirelessly to a smartphone for analysis, enabling physicians to more closely monitor patients' progress. So far, the device has been used and proven itself in animal studies. “Our technology is the first bioelectronic device to monitor tumor regression, and the first technology to monitor tumors in real time,” said Alex Abramson, PhD, assistant professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech and a co-author of a new study focusing the device. At present, the most common ways to measure tumors are calipers or bioluminescence imaging (BLI). While these methods are useful and, indeed, accurate, they are only typically performed every few days or weeks. With the new wearable sensor, tumor information is captured every 5 minutes, allowing changes to be recorded in a more timely fashion. Furthermore, the new sensor can also detect extremely small changes that calipers and BLI can’t. Our sensor will allow us to better understand the short-term effects of drugs on tumors and allow scientists and health care professionals a more streamlined method to screen drugs that could become therapies in the future,” Abramson added. *Image by Darko Stojanovic from Pixabay

Lifting weights linked with longer life

06/10/2022

We recently wrote about how 10,000 steps a day may halve dementia risk. Now, separate research has revealed how lifting weights can help people live longer. According to the study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, US, regularly lifting weights was linked to a lower risk of death from any cause, with the exception of cancer. “Older adults who participated in weight lifting exercise had significantly lower mortality before and after factoring in aerobic exercise participation, and importantly, those who did both types of exercise had the lowest risk,” said lead author Jessica Gorzelitz, PhD, researcher in the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Cancer Institute. Publishing their findings in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the researchers said individuals who met recommended amounts of both muscle-strengthening exercises and aerobic moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), appeared to gain additional benefit. The findings provide strong support for the current Physical Activity Guidelines for U.S. adults, added Gorzelitz. Current guidelines in the United States on physical activity recommend all adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week, or a minimum of 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity, or an equal combination of the two. In addition, the guidelines also advocate two or more days of strengthening activities that incorporate all major muscle groups, including the legs, hips, back, abdomen chest, shoulders, and arms. *Image by Fabiano Silva from Pixabay 

Common weedkiller found in 80% of people's urine

13/07/2022

A widely used weedkiller has been found in the urine of 80% of people who were tested as part of a national survey in the United States, including children as young as six. Of the 2,310 people whose urine was tested for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1,885 samples were found to contain glyphosate, one of the most popular weedkillers used around the world and the main active ingredient in the Roundup brand, owned by German pharmaceutical company Bayer. Almost a third of samples came from minors. The survey forms part of a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention program. "Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the country, yet until now we had very little data on exposure," Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist at the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement. "Children in the United States are regularly exposed to this cancer-causing weedkiller through the food they eat virtually every day." Despite insisting that glyphosate is safe, Bayer is currently facing thousands of lawsuits which claim the chemical causes cancer. Bayer previously won four separate trials of a similar nature. In 202, the Environmental Protection Agency stated that glyphosate poses no serious health risk to humans and is “not likely” to cause cancer. *Image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay

Weight-loss surgery found to slash cancer risk and mortality

09/06/2022

Bariatric surgery, also commonly referred to as weight-loss surgery, can help to reduce the risk of developing six different types of cancer associated with obesity, new research suggests. For the study, more than 1,600 obese people who had either gastric bypass surgery or sleeve gastrectomy surgery were compared to a control group of over, 2,100 obese individuals with obesity who did not undergo surgery. Both groups were matched in terms of age, sex and BMI. According to the study, the findings of which were presented at the 2022 annual meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), people who underwent bariatric surgery were also less likely to develop any type of cancer compared to their obese peers who had not had surgery. In fact, the study found that only 5.2 percent of people who had bariatric surgery went on to develop some type of cancer during the 10-year study period, compared to 12.2 percent of those who did not have weight loss surgery. Furthermore, the overall 10-year survival rate for patients who underwent surgery was 92.9 percent, while it was just 78.9 percent for the non-surgical group. Commenting on the study, Dr. Shanu Kothari, president of the ASMBS, said: “Patients live longer after bariatric surgery because they have less cardiac events and less cancers.” *Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

Cancer-killing virus injected into human in new trial

07/06/2022

A virus that infects and kills cancer cells has been injected into a human patient for the first time as part of a new clinical trial. The novel therapy, CF33-hNIS, also called Vaxinia, is what is known as a oncolytic virus i.e. one that deliberately targets cancel cells while avoiding healthy cells. It infiltrates the cancer cells and rapidly replicates, killing its host. At low doses, the therapy has been shown to reduce the size of a broad range of cancers in animal and laboratory models. And according to Imugene Limited, a clinical cancer research company, it can also help prime peoples' immune systems against cancer. For the phase one clinical trial, Vaxinia will be injected into people who have solid tumors and have received at least two types of prior treatment. The virus is either injected directly into the tumor itself or via the patient's vein. This phase of the trial is designed to judge Vaxinia's safety and tolerability in human patients. "Our previous research demonstrated that oncolytic viruses can stimulate the immune system to respond to and kill cancer, as well as stimulate the immune system to be more responsive to other immunotherapies," says City of Hope oncologist and principal investigator Daneng Li. "We believe CF33-hNIS has the potential to improve outcomes for our patients." *Image courtesy of PIRO4D from Pixabay

Dogs can detect passengers with COVID-19 at airports - study

18/05/2022

They are known to be able to sniff out illegal drugs and even cancer, but now a new study suggests sniffer dogs can also detect COVID-19 among airline passengers. Perhaps even more remarkable is the study, conducted by researchers in Finland, also found that once trained, dogs are as acuurate at sniffing out COVID-19 as a PCR nose and throat swab test. "Our preliminary observations suggest that dogs primed with one virus type can in a few hours be retrained to detect its variants," added Anu Kantele, a professor of infectious diseases at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and colleagues. For the study, the researchers took four dogs previously trained to detect illegal drugs, dangerous goods and cancers, and trained them to recognise SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19. To do so, the study team used swab samples from 114 people who had tested positive for the virus on a PCR swab test, including 28 with no symptoms, and from 306 negative tests. Remarkably, the dogs were able to successfully detect 92% of infected people and 91% of uninfected people. The dogs' noses were then put to the test in a live environment at Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport in Finland between September 2020 and April 2021. The dogs correctly identified 296 (99%) of 300 passengers with negative PCR results. Read the full release at BMJ Global Health. *Image: Sniffer dogs at Melbourne Airport doing a demonstration, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Could the 'love hormone' oxytocin be responsible for life satisfaction?

04/05/2022

Oxytocin – also known as the “love hormone” – is a neurochemical that acts on organs in the body and as a chemical messenger in the brain, controlling not just key functions of the reproductive system, but also aspects of human behaviour. Now, new research has revealed how people whose brains produce more oxytocin are kinder to others and live more satisfied lives. In addition, the research also discovered that as we age we produce more oxytocin, which could provide clues as to why older individuals are often more caring and more content with life than their younger peers. For the research, more than 100 people were recruited and asked to watch an empathy-invoking video about a father and his child with terminal cancer. At the end of the video, the participants were given a financial reward and asked if they wanted to donate any of it to charity. Oxytocin levels were measured before and after these steps. “The findings of our study are consistent with many religions and philosophies, where satisfaction with one’s life is enhanced by helping others,” reported first author Dr Paul J Zak of Claremont Graduate University. “People who released the most oxytocin in the experiment were not only more generous to charity, but also performed many other helping behaviors. This is the first time a distinct change in oxytocin has been related to past prosocial behaviors,” reported Zak. The findings of the study are published in the journal Frontier in Behavioral Neuroscience. *image courtesy of Tristan Le via pexels.com

Having a healthy gut microbiome can improve the success of cancer treatment

01/03/2022

More is being discovered all the time about the significant role of the bacteria, fungi and other microbes that live in our stomachs and intestines when it comes to our health. Now, the largest study of its kind to date has confirmed the link between the gut microbiome and the response to cancer immunotherapy therapy for melanoma. The study, the findings of which are published in the journal Nature Medicine, was co-ordinated by King's College London, CIBIO Department of the University of Trento and European Institute of Oncology in Italy, University of Groningen in the Netherlands and funded by the Seerave Foundation. Dr Karla Lee, clinical researcher at King's College London and first author of the study, said: "Preliminary studies on a limited number of patients have suggested that the gut microbiome, as an immune system regulator, plays a role in the response of each patient to cancer immunotherapy, and particularly in the case of melanoma. This new study could have a major impact on oncology and medicine in general." It's known that dietary changes can alter the microbiome, as can next generation probiotics and faecal transplantation. This change is in turn modifying the microbiome's action on the immune system. With this new understanding of the microbiome's impact on cancer therapy effectiveness, clinicians can potentially look to alter a patient's microbiome before beginning treatment. This is potentially important because less than 50% of immunotherapy patients respond positively to treatment for melanoma. *image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license

Highly accurate new blood test can detect early-stage lung cancer

10/02/2022

The earlier lung cancer is diagnosed, the greater a patient's chances of survival. Now, a new test has could help with the detection of lung cancer in is early stages. Developed by researchers at Peking University People’s Hospital in China, the novel non-invasive blood test assess levels of lipid biomarkers in patients' plasma samples. While lung cancer screening techniques already exist, they often produce low accuracy results. And considering better treatment options and survival rates are associated with earlier detection, accuracy is key. In contrast, the new test, named Lung Cancer Artificial Intelligence Detector (LCAID), has high accuracy. The study’s lead author, Jun Wang, chief of the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Peking University Peoples Hospital, explained: “The accuracy and high specificity of LCAID might help improve the detection and screening of lung cancer and consequently reduce unnecessary exposure to radiation and invasive diagnostic procedures. Notably, most patients with lung cancer included in this study were at Stage I, and over 90% of them were correctly classified by LCAID.” More information about the LCAID research can be found in Science Translational Medicine. *Image courtesy of Belova59 from Pixabay 

Magnesium's role in fighting cancer, boosting immunity revealed

25/01/2022

Magnesium is an essential macromineral, which means we all need to consume relatively large amounts of it to stay healthy. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the recommended daily amount of magnesium adults 19-51+ years should consume is 400-420 mg daily for men and 310-320 mg for women. Almonds, cashews, peanuts and spinach are all good sources of magnesium. But walnuts are even more magnesium-rich, providing around 158mg of the macromineral per 100g. Consuming enough magnesium in your diet is linked with a number of health benefits, including healthy bones, lower type 2 diabetes risk and better cardiovascular health. Magnesium is also linked to improved muscle contraction and nerve transmission, as well as better regulated blood pressure and boosted immunity. Previous research has shown that mice on a low-magnesium diet experience faster rates of cancer spread. Furthermore, said mice have weaker immune defenses against influenza viruses. Now, Swiss scientists have discovered that a type of immune cell, called a cytotoxic or “killer” T cell, need magnesium to do their jobs and eliminate cancerous or infected cells. The researchers discovered that magnesium activates a protein called LFA-1 on the surface of cytotoxic T cells, which they use to lock on to their targets. Senior author Dr. Christoph Hess, Ph.D., from the University of Basel in Switzerland and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, explains: “In the inactive state, this docking site is in a bent conformation and thus cannot efficiently bind to infected or abnormal cells.” “If magnesium is present in sufficient quantities in the vicinity of the T cells, it binds to LFA-1 and ensures that it remains in an extended — and therefore active — position.” The researchers also found, through analyzing data from past clinical trials of cancer immunotherapies, that low serum levels of magnesium were associated with more rapid disease progression and shorter survival. The Swiss study appears in the journal Cell. *image by Pera Detlic from Pixabay

World-leading French robot technology helping oncologists treat liver tumors

06/07/2021

Liver cancer patients in France are benefiting from world-leading robot technology that is helping physicians treat and operate on them. The only two of their kind, the two robots, developed by Montpellier-based medical device company Quantum Surgical, assist oncologists in the delivery of a treatment known as “elimination by microwaves”. Prior to the addition of the robots, physicians needed to guide a tiny needle into a liver cancer patient’s tumor so that microwaves could be passed into it. Now, the robots carry out this part using 3D images with pinpoint accuracy. The robots are being used as part of a clinical trial at Montpellier Hospital that will test the technology on 20 patients. Currently, it is only being used on liver cancer patients, but the technology has been used target cancerous tumours in animals’ lungs and kidneys. Professor Thierry de Baère, head of therapeutic imaging at the Institut Gustave Roussy in Villejuif, one of Europe’s leading cancer centres and one of two in France where the robot is currently used, said: “The robot can put a small needle in exactly the right place, from the right direction and at the right depth.” Prof de Baère has performed five operations using the technology and all the patients were discharged the next day. *Image courtesy of Quantum Surgical

26 French hospitals rank among world’s best when it comes to cancer care

03/12/2020

Newsweek, in collaboration with Statista Inc., has compiled a league table of the world’s best specialized hospitals 2021, and France has no less than 26 Cancer Centers (CLCCs) in the top 200. Topping the list of French oncology hospitals is Institut Gustave Roussy in Villejuif, which ranked fifth in the overall oncology list. Two more French cancer centers – Institut Curie and Hôpital Universitaire Pitié Salpêtrière – were also in the top 50, ranking 12th and 31st respectively. All in all, 26 French cancer hospitals were included in the top 200 global oncology list, highlighting just how renowned these establishments are on the international medical stage. Speaking about the rankings, Jean-Yves Blay, President of Unicancer – the National Federation of French Cancer Centres – said: “We are proud to see that more than half of CLCCs are ranked among the best cancer hospitals in the world. The model of care for cancer patients within the CLCCs is unique and this international recognition underscores the strength and excellence of our network, supported by common values ​​and commitments, at the service of the patient. It also testifies to our constant quest for excellence in healthcare, research and higher education.” For the rankings, Newsweek and Statista surveyed more than 40,000 medical experts from over 20 countries. A global board of experts was then asked to review and rank the hospitals outlined in the survey. You can check out the full Newsweek oncology ranking here.

Cancer mortality rates continuing to fall in U.S.

17/03/2020

With news headlines currently dominated by the Covid-19 outbreak, it could be easy to overlook other health stories worthy of note. That’s why we are pleased to share that cancer rates in the United States are continuing to fall, according to a new report. As outlined in the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, cancer rates in the U.S. continued falling from 2001 to 2017 – dropping, on average, by 1.5% a year. Furthermore, new cancer diagnoses have decreased at an average annual rate of 0.6% over the same period. Interestingly, the annual decline in mortality was slightly more pronounced among men (1.8%) than women (1.4%); nevertheless, decreases were seen across all major racial/ethnic groups and among adults, teens and children alike. Among men, mortality rates fell for 11 of the 19 most common cancers. They remained stable for four cancers, including prostate. And increased for another four: mouth, pharynx, soft tissue and pancreas. Among women, mortality rates fell for 14 of the 20 most common cancers, including the top three: lung, breast and colon. However, an increase in mortality rates was seen in cancers of the uterus, liver, brain, soft tissue and pancreas. Mouth and pharynx cancer rates remained stable. Despite mortality rates decreasing by 4.8% a year in men and 3.7% in women, lung cancer remains the number one cause of cancer death in the United States. Commenting on the findings of the report, U.S. Centers for Disease Control director, Dr. Robert Redfield, said: “The United States continues to make significant progress in cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.”

Lose weight, lower prostate cancer risk - study

10/03/2020

If there wasn’t already enough motivation for overweight men to shed some pounds, new research suggests losing weight could help lower the risk of advanced prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men globally, with approximately 1.3 million new cases in 2018 alone. Fortunately, if discovered early enough, prostate cancer has a relatively low mortality rate, with 96% of patients surviving for 15 years or more following an early stage diagnosis. However, as with any cancer, prevention is better than cure, and survival rates for advanced prostate cancer are very poor. That’s why a new, large-scale analysis of 15 studies involving nearly 831,000 men is significant. It found that having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of above 25 during middle to late adulthood was associated with the highest risk for advanced prostate cancer. Furthermore, the researchers from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University found that having a larger waist size was also associated with an increased risk of advanced prostate cancer and death. “These study results show that risk for advanced prostate cancer can be decreased by maintaining a 'healthy' weight, which is in line with guidelines by the American Cancer Society and World Cancer Research Fund,” said study author Jeanine Genkinger, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health The study was published March 4 in the Annals of Oncology.

You could live up to 14 years longer by avoiding these 5 bad habits

20/02/2020

A new study has revealed five bad health habits which, if avoided, could help you live significantly longer. While the habits themselves are nothing we haven’t heard before, the findings of the study are important as they highlight just how much of an impact the five factors can have on lifespan. So if you want to live years longer, avoid these five behaviours: smoking, not exercising, being overweight, drinking too much alcohol and eating an unhealthy diet. Specifically, the study found that women aged 50 who avoided all five risk factors lived 14 years longer than women who did not. Among men, the difference in lifespan was 12 years. Publishing the study findings in the BMJ, senior author Dr. Frank Hu, who chairs the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said: “We found that following a healthy lifestyle can substantially extend the years a person lives disease-free.” Importantly, the results held true even after adjusting the data for age, ethnicity, family medical history and other potentially influential factors – emphasising that everyone stands to benefit from avoiding these five unhealthy habits. Finally, the research also revealed that the five habits had a positive impact for people diagnosed with a disease during the study period. For example, individuals who developed cancer lived an additional 23 years if they adopted four of the five healthy practices. In contrast, among those who didn't change, half only survived an additional 11 years. The same patterns were witnessed for both heart disease and diabetes.

More health benefits of Mediterranean diet discovered

18/02/2020

The Mediterranean diet, which features plenty of vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans and whole grains, has long been lauded for its heart health benefits. But now a new study shows that it could also improve brain function in elderly people, even when only eaten for a year. According to the research published in the BMJ, following a Mediterranean diet for just 12 months can inhibit production of inflammatory chemicals in elderly individuals that can lead to loss of cognitive function, as well as prevent the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and atherosclerosis. For the study, 612 elderly people from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom has their gut microbiome analysed. Then, 323 of them were put on a special diet, based on Mediterranean principles, for one year, while the rest were asked to eat as they normally would. After 12 months, all of the study participants had their gut microbiome re-analysed. Those who had followed the Mediterranean diet saw beneficial changes to the microbiome in their digestive system. The rate at which bacterial diversity was lost slowed and the production of potentially harmful inflammatory markers was reduced. Furthermore, there was also a growth of beneficial bacteria linked to improved memory and brain function. So-called “keystone” species, critical for a stable “gut ecosystem”, were also boosted, helping to slow signs of frailty, such as walking speed and hand grip strength. “Our findings support the feasibility of changing the habitual diet to modulate the gut microbiota which in turn has the potential to promote healthier aging,” the study authors said.

Could cervical cancer really be a thing of the past by 2120?

13/02/2020

According to the American Cancer Society, in 2020, there will be around 13,800 new cases of invasive cervical cancer diagnosed and about 4,290 women will die from the disease. Nevertheless, cervical cancer has a lot of optimism surrounding t, with specialists and the World Health Organization (WHO) arguing that the disease could be eradicated completely in the next 100 years. The WHO says that by applying the right preventative measures, cervical cancer mortality rates could be lowered significantly. Now, two separate studies published in The Lancet contend that cervical cancer could become a distant memory by 2120. Both studies outline measures that should be taken by different countries to prevent cervical cancer. First, girls from low- and middle-income backgrounds should be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) – the top risk factor for cervical cancer. This would, the WHO says, avert an estimated 61 million cases of cervical cancer up to 2120. Furthermore, if individuals get screened for this type of cancer twice in their lifetime, its incidence can be reduced by 96.7%, and avert 2.1 million new cases. However, Prof. Marc Brissonco-lead of both studies from Université Laval’s Faculty of Medicine in Québec, Canada, warns that cervical cancer eradication can only be achieved with “considerable international financial and political commitment, in order to scale up prevention and treatment.”

Landmark cancer study to transform treatment

06/02/2020

Cancer is like a 100,000-piece jigsaw puzzle and until now, 99% of the pieces have been missing. But a new landmark cancer study, involving more than 1,300 scientists, has built the most detailed picture of the disease ever, providing an almost complete picture of every type of cancer. Published in the journal Nature, the studies could lead to individual treatments being developed based on a patient’s unique situation, as well as the development of new ways to find cancer earlier. Historically, doctors have been left frustrated when two patients with seemingly identical cancers respond differently to the same treatment. It’s proof of cancer’s complexity and something that has challenged doctors for years. With the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) project, though, scientists now have a much better understanding of why cells in cancerous growths keep growing uncontrollably. The specific set of DNA changes that cause this to happen are known as “driver mutations”. The project found between four and five fundamental mutations that drive a cancer’s growth. These are potential weak-spots that could be exploited with treatments that attack these driver mutations. “Ultimately, what we want to do is to use these technologies to identify treatments that are tailored to each individual patient,” said Dr Peter Campbell, from the Wellcome Sanger Institute. The study also uncovered some surprising similarities between cancers found in different types of tissue.

Study shows it’s never too late to quit smoking

30/01/2020

Lungs have the ability to repair themselves, but only if a person stops smoking, new research suggests. It had previously been thought that the mutations that lead to lung cancer were permanent and smokers had already done irreparable damage with their habits. However, the surprise findings, published in the journal Nature, show that some cells escape the damage caused by smoking and can actually help repair the cells around them once a person has quit. This almost magical ability was witnessed by scientists from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and UCL even in people who had smoked a pack a day for 40 years before giving up – highlighting that it’s really never too late to quit. Exactly how certain cells avoid the genetic devastation caused by smoking is unclear, but the researchers said they appeared to “exist in a nuclear bunker”. Speaking about the findings of the research, Dr Rachel Orritt, from Cancer Research UK, said: “It's a really motivating idea that people who stop smoking might reap the benefits twice over - by preventing more tobacco-related damage to lung cells, and by giving their lungs the chance to balance out some of the existing damage with healthier cells”. It is estimated that of the 47,000 cases of lung cancer in the UK each year, almost three-quarters are caused by smoking.

Prostate overtakes breast to become most common form of cancer in England

28/01/2020

In 2018, there were nearly 50,000 confirmed cases of prostate cancer in England – around 8,000 more than in 2017, which makes it the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country, overtaking breast cancer for the first time. Now Public Health England says that the reason why more cases of prostate cancer are being confirmed is simply because more men are getting tested, and not because the cancer has seen a sharp rise. With 49,029 confirmed cases, prostate tops the list of common cancers in England, followed by breast with 47,476 cases. Lung and bowel cancers are the next most commonly diagnosed. The head of the NHS, Simon Stevens, says that celebrity prostate cancer stories, like actor and comedian Stephen Fry’s, have helped raise awareness of the importance of having prostate cancer tests. Fry was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018, which he says was “thankfully caught in the nick of time". He subsequently underwent prostate cancer surgery. Prostate cancer has a high survival rate, with Cancer Research UK statistics showing that more than 8 in 10 (84%) men diagnosed with the disease in England and Wales survive for 10 years or more. But the key to successfully treating prostate cancer is to detect it early and begin treatment as soon as possible, which is why it’s crucial for men to get tested on a regular basis. Cancer tsar Prof Peter Johnson said: “As people live longer, we're likely to see prostate cancer diagnosed more often, and with well-known figures like Rod Stewart, Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull all talking openly about their diagnosis, more people will be aware of the risk.”

Breakthrough immune discovery could help with treatment of all cancers

21/01/2020

Scientists from Cardiff University in the UK have discovered a part of our immune system that could be harnessed to kill all types of cancer. Despite their work being at an early stage, the team says the newly-discovered technique killed prostate, breast, lung and other cancers in lab tests. The findings of their research, which are published in the journal Nature Immunology, have not yet been tested in humans, but, nevertheless, the researchers say they hold “enormous potential.” The scientists made their potentially game-changing discovery while looking for “unconventional” ways the immune system naturally attacks tumours. They found a T-cell in blood that could find and kill a wide range of cancers, while leaving normal tissues untouched. Speaking about their findings, researcher Prof Andrew Sewell said: “It raises the prospect of a 'one-size-fits-all' cancer treatment, a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population.” While T-cell cancer therapies are nothing new, with treatments like CAR-T already being used to seek out and destroy cancer, the Cardiff researchers’ discovery is exciting because it could lead to treatments being developed that are more effective against solid cancers (those that form tumours). The researchers say their discovery has the potential to lead to a "universal" cancer treatment.

AI outperforms doctors in diagnosing breast cancer

02/01/2020

Artificial Intelligence is better at diagnosing breast cancer than human doctors. That’s the conclusion of a new study published in the journal Nature. For the research, an international team, including representatives from Google Health and Imperial College London, used anonymous X-ray images of 29,000 women to train a computer model so that it could spot breast cancer. When put to the test against six radiologists in reading mammograms, the algorithm came out on top. In fact, it was even proven to be as good as two doctors working together – the current system for assessing mammograms. And unlike the human experts who had access to the patients’ medical history, the AI had just the X-rays to go on. Specifically, the AI resulted in a reduction of 1.2% in false positives - when a mammogram is incorrectly diagnosed as abnormal – and a 2.7% reduction in false negatives, where a cancer is missed. While we’re not likely to see AI being used to diagnose or clear breast cancer patients any time soon, the technology could be used to assist radiologists and speed up diagnoses going forward. Speaking about the findings of the research, Dominic King, from Google Health, said: “Our team is really proud of these research findings, which suggest that we are on our way to developing a tool that can help clinicians spot breast cancer with greater accuracy.”

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