I’m a dermatologist’s dream – a fair-skinned, freckly person with lots of small moles. The perfect candidate for a lifetime of 6-month skin checks!
Luckily for me, none of my moles have ever been cancerous. To be honest (please look the other way, dermatologist friends) I have sometimes put off skin checks for fear of being invited to undergo yet another biopsy. I’ve had about 9 procedures so far, and I have the scars to prove it. But this time around, I found a product that really reduced my healing time and scarring. I’m so excited about the results that I don’t care if I need a total-body shave biopsy next year. Bring it on! No one will be able to tell.
It is a little surprising that hydrocolloid gel technology hasn’t been on the consumer market for all that long (I wasn’t able to figure out when this product was launched in retail stores but it seems to me that I’ve only seen it around for the last few years or so). Hydrocolloid dressings are a staple in wound healing in the hospital setting, and I’ve seen marvelous results with pressure ulcer repair in the hands of experienced wound care nurses. The gel essentially creates a moist scaffold for skin cells to fill in defects and divots. The gel absorbs moisture from the skin and wound “oozing” while creating a sterile barrier against dirt and germs. The scab-less healing creates minimal scar tissue and the bandage is hypo-allergenic and incredibly flexible.
The product I used is called ActivFlex premium adhesive bandages (a Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid brand). I’ve seen generic knock-offs on store shelves but haven’t tried them. All I can say is that the experience has been terrific, and it’s such a relief to know that I don’t need to worry about scars from small cuts, burns, or mole biopsies any more. This is a fantastic invention – and I’d love to hear from others (be they dermatologists, plastic surgeons, or regular users of the product) to find out if they’ve had the same luck!
No need to fear skin checks anymore, my fair-skinned friends. You can recover nicely from procedures with a little hydrocolloid help from your local grocery store or pharmacy.
A hundred bucks doesn’t buy much these days. A crisp Ben Franklin can be exchanged for
50 Big Macs
A Broadway show ticket
A night in a New York City hotel (just joking)
A college textbook (paperback)
Your life? Yes, 5 crumpled Andy Jacksons can save your life, as was reported earlier this year in a front page article in The Plain Dealer, Cleveland’s only daily newspaper. University Hospital is now offering a $99 spiral computed tomography (CT scans) of the chest in individuals who are at increased risk of developing lung cancer. The rationale is that if cancers can be detected early, then the cure rate for surgical removal is very high.
Gary Schwitzer, medical blogger and press watchdog, tries to bring some balance to the distorted media coverage of CT lung cancer reportage.
In the face of accumulating evidence and a U.S. Preventive Services Task Force finding that PSA screening for prostate cancer does more harm than good, the most frequent response I hear from physicians who continue to defend the test is that PSA is all we have, and that until a better test is developed, it would be “unethical” to not offer men some way to detect prostate cancer at an asymptomatic stage. (However, these physicians for the most part don’t question the ethics of not offering women screening for ovarian cancer, which a recent randomized trial concluded provides no mortality benefit but causes considerable harms from diagnosis and treatment.)
I’m currently reading historian Stephen Ambrose’s dual biography of Oglala Sioux leader Crazy Horse and Civil War cavalry general George Armstrong Custer, whose troops were routed by the Sioux at the famous Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. One premise of the book is that the same aggressive instincts that served Custer so well during the Civil War Read more »
One wonders how many men have their blood tested for PSA levels looking for prostate cancer without being asked if that’s what they really wanted.
The Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making (which supports my web publishing efforts) has now posted on its YouTube page a video clip with a man who has some regrets about his prostate cancer screening and treatment experience. It’s the same man featured in the New York Times Sunday magazine piece, “Can Cancer Ever Be Ignored?”
Relevant excerpt from the NYT piece:
“Tim Glynn, a self-described country lawyer from Setauket, N.Y., was 47 in 1997 when he went to his primary-care doctor, troubled by a vague feeling of being down. After his physical exam, Glynn was sent to have his blood drawn. Along with thyroid and cholesterol levels, the doctor ordered a P.S.A. test. Read more »
Most of us born several decades ago, recall the futuristic book Fantastic Voyage by Isaac Asimov, where a miniaturized crew traveled through a human body to cure a scientist who has a blot clot lodged in his brain. Ironically, miniaturized medical care is now upon us while books are at risk of becoming obsolete.
I hope that gastroenterologists won’t become obsolete, at least until my last kid graduates from college.
I perform an amazing diagnostic procedure called wireless capsule endoscopy (WCE), when patients swallow a camera. Once swallowed, this miniaturized camera takes its own fantastic voyage through the alimentary canal. The test is used primarily to identify sources of internal bleeding within the 20 feet of small intestine, which are beyond the reach of gastroenterologists’ conventional scopes. I have performed over 200 of these examinations, and I am still awestruck when I watch a ‘movie’ of someone’s guts. While most examinations do not reveal significant findings, I have seen dramatic lesions that were bleeding before my eyes. WCE can crack a cold medical case wide open.
Here’s a typical view of the small bowel as seen by the cruising camera: Read more »
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