Vim & Vigor - Winter 2009 - North Mississippi - (Page 16)

s it a sign?symptoms you shouldn’t ignore— they could mean cancer by shelley flannery As my friends and family know, I’m a fairly, OK very, indecisive person. There are just too many options out there when it comes to dinner out, movies to rent, clothes to buy, vacations to go on—you name it, and I will resist narrowing it down to one. So, often I look for signs in making a decision. Just yesterday, I was about to order a takeout dinner when my phone died. I took it as a sign and foraged my pantry for something to eat instead. Finding a can of my favorite soup waaaay in the back, I saved $13.49 plus tax and delivery—and probably hundreds of calories. Of course, following “signs” doesn’t always pan out. Like the time I bought a set of eight wine glasses on clearance that matched my dinnerware perfectly, only to get them home and discover they were too tall to fit in my kitchen cabinets. Looking for signs when it comes to health follows the same principles. Sometimes they mean something, and sometimes they don’t. Regardless, when it comes to symptoms that could possibly indicate cancer, it’s better to find out for sure. “Many people have symptoms that aren’t related to cancer,” says Len Lichtenfeld, M.D., deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. “But there’s no question, if you have persistent symptoms, see your doctor.” Here are five signs you shouldn’t ignore: have lumps that come and go throughout the month, Vahdat says. “As long as they go, that’s good. But if they stay, see your doctor.” WHAT ELSE IT COULD BE Most lumps don’t prove to be cancerous. They could be cysts, calcifications or abscesses. About 1 million Americans develop skin cancer each year, making it the most common form of cancer in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute. “If you notice an unusual mole or a change in your skin, have it checked,” suggests Susan M. Schneider, Ph.D., R.N., a member of the board of directors for the Oncology Nursing Society. She recommends following the ABCD rule from the American Cancer Society on what to look out for: • Asymmetry—two halves of a birthmark or mole don’t match. • Border—edges are irregular, ragged or not well-defined. • Color—pigmentation is not uniform and may include brown, black, pink, red, white or blue coloring. • Diameter—larger than a quarter inch, or roughly the diameter of a pencil eraser. WHAT ELSE IT COULD BE Normal moles can develop later in life—or even fade away. Harmless liver spots, which develop due to sun exposure and have nothing to do with liver function, also are common with aging. an unusual mole “Any lump that wasn’t there previously—whether in your neck, stomach, breast or somewhere else—needs to be evaluated,” says Linda Vahdat, M.D., a spokeswoman for the American Society of Clinical Oncology. It’s important to be familiar with your body. For instance, younger women tend to have denser breast tissue than older women and may a lump Not every stomachache warrants a trip to the doctor, but if you have persistent abdominal pain, pressure or swelling, or if you fill up quickly when eating or need to urinate often, it’s time to make an appointment. PHOTOGRAPH BY PHOTOLIBRARY vague abdominal discomforts vim & vigor · winte r 2 009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Winter 2009 - North Mississippi

Vim & Vigor - Winter 2009 - North Mississippi
Opening Thoughts
Our Newest Addition
Diabetes Check
Model Behavior
Is it a Sign?
Your Heart: The Owner's Manual
Independence Days
Sidney Poitier
The Right Stuff
Watch and Learn
Up to Speed
Shining Stars
Back in Action
Digest This
Healthy Bites
Catch the Spirit

Vim & Vigor - Winter 2009 - North Mississippi