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Too Few Americans Getting Screened for Cancer

THURSDAY, July 26, 2018 (Health Day News) -- Routine checks for breast, prostate, cervical and colon cancer save lives, but screening rates for all but colon cancer have stalled in recent years, U.S. health officials report.  According to the new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, the number of Americans getting recommended cancer screening remains below target levels. This is especially the case for people who don't have health insurance.  "Continued public health efforts are needed to reduce barriers for accessing medical care; increase the number of providers who discuss the harms and benefits of cancer screening with patients, and increase the number of people who receive cancer screenings, particularly among the uninsured and those with no usual source of care," said lead researcher Ingrid Hall. She is an epidemiologist in CDC's division of cancer prevention and control.  Despite the increase in colon cancer screening rates, the use of colon cancer screening still fell below national targets, as did screening for breast and cervical cancer, Hall added.  For the cancer screenings studied, lack of screening was associated with not having a regular source for medical care, not being insured and not having seen a doctor in the past year, Hall said.

In addition, Asians, younger folks, the poor and the less educated were also less likely to get cancer screenings, she noted.  "Appropriate screening, diagnosis, timely follow-up and effective treatment could help to make progress toward reducing society's overall cancer burden and improve health equity in cancer outcomes for all," Hall said.  Among all women included in the study, 81 percent reported having a recent Pap test and 72 percent reported a recent mammogram, the findings showed.  Among women aged 50 to 75, just over 63 percent reported a recent colon cancer screening test, as did 62 percent of men in the same age group.  Only 36 percent of men aged 50 or older said they had recently gotten a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, the researchers reported.  According to the study, the use of Pap tests declined 4 percent from 2000 to 2015, and rates of mammograms declined 3 percent among women who had a regular source of care.

Cataract Surgery

Take a look at an actual cataract surgery being performed here at Surgery Center of Silverdale by Dr. Jason Cheung

The Signs and Symptoms of Gallbladder Problems

The gallbladder is a small sac that stores bile from the liver, and it's found just beneath your liver.  It releases bile through ducts into the small intestine to help break down the foods you eat — particularly fatty foods.  Typically the gallbladder doesn't cause too many problems or much concern, but if something slows or blocks the flow of bile from the gallbladder, a number of problems can result. 

What Can Go Wrong

Some common gallbladder problems include:  Gallstones (Cholelithiasis) This is a condition in which small stones, or sometimes larger ones, develop inside the gallbladder.  These stones form from substances found in bile, including cholesterol and a pigment called bilirubin.  Gallstonesmay cause pain known as biliary colic (see below), but about 90 percent of people with gallstones will have no symptoms.  Most symptomatic gallstones will have been present for a number of years.

For unknown reasons, if you have gallstones for more than 10 years, they are less likely to cause symptoms.  Biliary Colic This term is often used to describe severe episodes of pain that can occur when gallstones block the flow of bile to the small intestine.

The gallbladder contracts vigorously against the blockage, causing severe pain in spasms, or sometimes constant pain.  Biliary colic episodes usually last one to five hours, with mild pain lingering for up to 24 hours. They’re especially common after large or fatty meals, particularly if you’ve been fasting beforehand. Inflamed Gallbladder (Cholecystitis) Inflammation of the gallbladder can be caused by gallstones, excessive alcohol use, infections, or even tumors that cause bile buildup.  But the most common cause of cholecystitis is gallstones.  In this case, irritation by gallstones causes the gallbladder walls to become swollen and painful.  An episode of inflammation can last for several hours, or even a few days. Fever is not unusual.  Sometimes, the inflamed gallbladder is invaded by intestinal bacteria and becomes infected.  Occasionally, the gallbladder actually ruptures, which is a surgical emergency.  Suspected episodes of cholecystitis always require medical attention, particularly if you have a fever.  Acalculous Biliary Pain This refers to pain in the bile ducts that isn’t followed by any gallstones appearing in imaging tests.  It may be due to improper emptying of the gallbladder, overly sensitive bile ducts or small intestine, or gallstones that are too small to be seen on imaging scans or passed through already.

Common Gallbladder Symptoms

Most gallbladder symptoms start with pain in the upper abdominal area, either in the upper right or middle.

Specific symptoms may vary according to what type of gallbladder condition you have, although many symptoms are common among the various types of gallbladder problems.  Here are some common symptoms of gallbladder problems:

  • Severe pain in the upper right or center of your abdomen

  • Tenderness in the abdomen, particularly the right upper quadrant

  • Abdominal pain lasting several hours

  • Pain that may extend beneath the right shoulder blade or to the back

  • Pain that worsens after eating a heavy meal, particularly fatty or greasy foods

  • Pain that feels dull, sharp, or crampy

  • Pain that increases when you breathe in deeply

  • Heartburn, indigestion, and excessive gas

  • Chest pain

  • A feeling of fullness in the abdomen

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Fever, ranging from low-grade to severe

  • Shaking with chills

  • Stools of an unusual color (often lighter, like clay)

  • Dark urine (often described as tea-colored) 

Some gallbladder problems, like simple gallstones that are not blocking the bile ducts, often cause no symptoms at all.

They're most often discovered during an X-ray or CT scan that's performed to diagnose a different condition, or even during abdominal surgery.  If you spot any symptoms of gallbladder trouble, see your doctor for a diagnosis and prompt treatment to get your digestive tract running smoothly again.  It’s essential to seek immediate treatment if you develop a severe gallstone complication that causes any of the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain so severe you can’t sit or lie still or keep food down

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

  • Severe fever with chills