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Doc Talk

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When it comes to weight management, Dr. Troy Schumann can safely say he really knows what he’s talking about. The St. Elizabeth Weight Management Center physician has not only undergone specialty training in bariatric medicine, but he was once clinically obese himself. In fact, he’s so interested in the field that today he’s in the process of becoming a certified bariatrician.

 

In other words, Troy Schumann understands the problem his patients face on both a personal and professional level. But it’s his personal experience – perhaps more than any other – that has given him special insight into both the frustration of being overweight and the very real health risks of do-it-yourself dieting.

 

"Before I received specialty training in bariatrics – when I was just out of my medical residency – my weight was in the obese range. And even though I was a physician, I was still looking for that magical answer," he recalls.

 

"So I just picked up the biggest fad diet going and I lost a lot of weight. But I also got kidney stones five times and had to have surgery for them. That really opened my eyes about the serious risks dieting can pose if you go about it the wrong way."

 

Today, Schumann puts his considerable professional and personal experience to work daily to help patients at the Florence center trim down and get healthy safely and successfully. But, he knows many considering such a program have lots of concerns. Dr. Schumann has answered some of the most common questions many people ask when considering whether St. Elizabeth’s program is right for them.

 

Q: Why should someone choose to seek your help through the program at St. Elizabeth to achieve their weight loss goals?
A:
We are dedicated solely to treating conditions of overweight and obesity, and their related illnesses. To accomplish that, we have a full array of medical professionals who specialize in weight management, including registered dietitians, nurses, exercise specialists, and specialists in behavioral health.

 

We spend considerable time working with our patients individually to educate and change behaviors that they can develop into permanent lifestyle changes. We’re not just looking at the number on the scale.

 

Q: What do you mean when you say you "don’t just look at the number on the scale"?
A:
It means successful weight management requires that we look at everything going on in each patient’s life. So, we perform blood work and other necessary tests to obtain critical information about things like your body fat percentage and lean muscle mass. But, we also work to determine whether you have any eating disorders or stressors that might trigger your dietary intake, or medical conditions that might inhibit weight loss.

 

We look at your situation from many different angles to achieve the best results for overall health. We really focus on long-term success through weight maintenance after weight loss.

 

The only way to keep weight off is by incorporating behavior and lifestyle changes into your everyday life, including regular exercise as a key element. And, we continue to work with our patients during maintenance, reinforcing what they learned during their weight loss program and offering needed support to keep them on track.

 

Q: Do you only help people with very large amounts of weight to lose?
A:
We can help anyone, from individuals who may need only to lose 10 pounds, to those who are severely obese. We offer a lot of different options. Most of the people who come to see us have already been on every diet known to man, but when they come here we’re going to build a program that is specially suited for their needs and situation.

 

Q: What types of concerns and questions do people ask initially?
A:
The No. 1 thing people ask me is, "Do you prescribe medications?" Everybody’s looking for the magic pill, but there just isn’t one. Though some medications can help, we really want to find the underlying problems you’re having and then correct them.

 

One other big question is, "Why am I overweight anyway?" Some people want to know why they’re working so hard and eating all the right things, but they’re still overweight. They’re very frustrated.

 

So we look to see if they have certain health, medication or other issues that might be contributing to weight gain. Then we work with their physicians to figure out how to target the problems to optimize their efforts for the best results, but always with safety in mind.

 

Q: Obviously, it takes a lot of effort from the patient to succeed, but you’ve seen a lot of people do just that. Tell me about the pay-offs.
A:
Oh, the pay-offs are tremendous. You see them in the numbers when their cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose levels drop and they can reduce or even eliminate their medications. And sometimes people need to lose 200-300 pounds and they’ve been wheelchair-bound for years – they may never think they’re going to progress out of that chair, much less exercise. But they do, and you see them feeling better and better, both physically and emotionally about themselves. Their lives are tremendously improved. I know. I’ve been there, too.

 

Editor’s Note: This is a special advertising section provided by St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

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•    Approximately 160,000 Americans sustain spinal column injuries annually
•    85 percent of us will experience at least one disabling low back pain injury
•    About 10 percent of that group will suffer chronic problems

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As most of us already know, back problems are ever-present in this country. In fact, right at this moment about 250,000 of us are living with spinal cord injuries, according to the National Institutes of Health. And it’s estimated that a whopping 85 percent of us will end up suffering some sort of disabling low back pain injury during our lives.

"I am seeing all aspects of spinal problems … and these are very common problems. In fact, 80-90 percent of people will have this type of problem in their lives," Dr. Raj Kakarlapudi, Medical Director and spine surgeon at St. Elizabeth says.

The prevalence of the problem is one reason why Kakarlapudi is working with St. Elizabeth Healthcare toward the creation of a spine center in Northern Kentucky in the near future, which will bring together all the best technology and brightest professionals in the field of spine health.

Kakarlapudi says his practice is the foundation of that effort. He says he hopes to serve as a valuable local resource for people with all types of spinal ailments. Kakarlapudi says he also hopes to work closely with local primary care doctors to direct patients with spinal problems to the best source of treatment. "My goal is to educate primary care physicians about spinal conditions," Kakarlapudi says.
 
"I think it’s important for them to know how I can help them figure who can be helped surgically and who might be better served with a non-operative course of treatment. … I’ll be evaluating all those cases in that way."

When to Talk to Your Doctor About Seeing a Spine Surgeon
Kakarlapudi says people should talk to their doctors about seeing a spine surgeon for ongoing complaints involving any part of the spine and neck, as well as pain that extends down the arms and legs, or tingling in the fingers. He will then work with these individuals and their physicians to determine whether surgery is the answer, or if another type of treatment might be more appropriate. 031411DOCTALK.jpg

Typically, Kakarlapudi says surgery is only considered when an individual is unable to live with his or her pain or condition, or a problem exists that endangers their health, like compressed nerves, or degenerative or unstable discs. Often too, Kakarlapudi is called on to monitor individuals as they are treated non-surgically to determine when and if it would be best to intervene surgically.
 
And when it comes to surgery, Kakarlapudi performs a complete array of procedures, but he specializes in minimally invasive measures. When appropriate, these less traumatic operations can offer patients the same benefits as open surgery with fewer risks.

"I’ve really concentrated on minimally invasive spinal surgery and also percutaneous procedures," he says, referring to surgical procedures where access is gained to the spine through small skin punctures, rather than larger openings with a scalpel.

With newer, minimally invasive procedures, we can use image guidance to see where we have to go, requiring a smaller incision instead of taking muscle out. With these procedures there’s a lot less blood loss and a quicker recovery for the patient, who can go home sooner."

St. Elizabeth Healthcare is partnering with its medical staff to develop a fully integrated, multi-disciplinary spine program at its Florence campus, including the services of physical therapists, interventional radiologists and pain management specialists, providing a full continuum of care to patients with spinal ailments.

Editor’s Note: This is a special advertising section provided by St. Elizabeth.

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Often stroke, heart attack and ruptured aneurysms seem to strike without warning. But in reality, there usually are advance signs that these catastrophic health events may occur. Recognizing those signs, as well as potential risk factors for major cardiovascular events, may be keys to preventing them from ever happening.

Late last year St. Elizabeth Healthcare rolled out a powerful new tool uniquely suited to seek out the warning signs of cardiovascular disease. And the great news is that this state-of-the-art medical technology comes directly to you in your own backyard. 
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St. Elizabeth’s CardioVascular Mobile Health Unit delivers an array of potentially lifesaving health screenings to you where you live, work and play. It’s a quick, easy, painless and affordable way to help identify those at increased risk and potentially prevent major cardiovascular events, like strokes or ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms. And there’s never been anything else like it in the Tristate.
 
"The mobile unit travels to locations across Greater Cincinnati to offer on-site screenings for cardiovascular conditions like blockages in the carotid artery (which places you at increased stroke risk) and abdominal aortic aneurysm through painless, non-invasive techniques using state-of-the-art ultrasound equipment," says St. Elizabeth Coordinator for the CardioVascular Mobile Health Unit Rhonda Wassom.


"We also screen for peripheral arterial disease – PAD – through a test called an ankle brachial index and we offer cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure screenings. Within the year, we will also start offering EKGs and echocardiograms, as well."

"We care about the health and well-being of those in our community, and therefore we provide a holistic approach to prevention. We offer services ranging from education prior to screenings all the way through to follow-up care."

  The CardioVascular Mobile Health Unit also offers classes to help educate the public about the screenings, cardiovascular disease warning signs and prevention activities. Elizabeth-InStory.gif

Are You at Risk?
The mobile unit is equipped with the latest medical technology and staffed by an array of cardiovascular professionals and technicians. Upon request, the unit travels to Greater Cincinnati businesses, churches and other organizations, primarily offering three completely painless, non-invasive cardiovascular screenings that take about 20 minutes total to complete.

In the most recent reporting year, the American Heart Association estimates that more than 81 million Americans had one or more forms of cardiovascular disease, including everything from high blood pressure to stroke and heart failure.

Fortunately, the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease is declining, a fact partially attributable to better early detection and treatment of such conditions. St. Elizabeth Vascular Institute Director Vera Hall says certain individuals may benefit from screening appointments at one of the CardioVascular Mobile Health Unit’s stops in the coming months.

"Individuals should consider undergoing these screenings particularly if they have family histories of cardiac or carotid artery disease or abdominal aortic aneurysm. Likewise, those who smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, might also consider the screenings," she advises.

The Results that Can Save Lives
Hall and Wassom say that all screening results are reported to the individual and his or her doctor. Those with abnormal results are phoned within two days of the screening by the Vascular Institute nurse practitioner, who’ll discuss the results with them and answer any questions.

Although it might be scary to receive word of abnormal results, the good news is that with early detection there may be treatment options that would not be possible if the condition had worsened or resulted in a major cardiovascular event.

Normal screening results are sent to each individual and his or her requested physician so they can be discussed at the next office visit, if desired. The St. Elizabeth CardioVascular Mobile Unit staff are also always available to answer any questions individuals have regarding their screenings.

To find out when the St. Elizabeth CardioVascular Mobile Health Unit might be in your neighborhood, go online to www.stelizabeth.com and check the calendar page. You can also call (859)301-WELL for information about the van’s scheduled stops or to obtain details about booking the mobile unit at your workplace, church or organization.

Editor’s Note: This is a special advertising section provided by St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

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Every year more than 260,000 women are diagnosed with breast and gynecological cancers in the U.S. And many of those women will have their gynecologists to thank for catching the disease in its early stages with cancer screenings and exams.

 

Cold Spring gynecologist Dr. Stephen Hensley is one of those specialists who are on the front lines of the fight against breast, uterine, ovarian and cervical cancers at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

 

"Mainly, the No. 1 cancer I see is breast cancer. In fact, one in seven women is going to have it in their lifetime, so it’s very common," he says, referring to the 190,000 cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the U.S. annually.

 

"The next most common type of cancer would be uterine, with about 40,000 women affected annually. Then ovarian cancer, which affects about 20,000 women, and then cervical cancer, affecting about 10,000 women each year. And most gynecologists see all of these types," Hensley says.

 

The key to beating cancer of all types, of course, is early detection. The good news on that front is that many gynecological cancers can be detected early, Hensley says, and the key to that early detection is knowing and responding to the signs and obtaining regular screenings for cervical and breast cancers.

 

Cervical Cancer

 

Cervical cancer is best detected through annual Pap smears, starting at age 21, or within three years after you first have sex. As far as preventing cervical cancer, girls and young women ages 9 to 26 can now get the HPV vaccine to prevent one of the main causes of cervical cancer. All women can reduce their chances of acquiring the disease as well by refraining from smoking, limiting their number of sexual partners and using condoms during sex.

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Uterine Cancer

 

There are no simple tests for uterine cancer, so it’s important that women tell their doctors as soon as they notice anything that seems like a sign of the disease. These early symptoms include vaginal bleeding that is heavier than normal or that comes between periods or after menopause. Some women also experience pain or pressure in their pelvises. Although there are no known ways to prevent the disease, some steps lower your chances of getting uterine cancer, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These steps include:
Using birth control pills
Staying active
Maintaining a healthy weight
Asking your doctor about progesterone therapy if you’re taking estrogen during menopause

 

Ovarian Cancer

 

Ovarian cancers are trickier than most others to detect and prevent, Hensley says, which also contributes to their much higher fatality rate. Early signs of the disease also can mimic other health problems, Hensley says, but women should still be aware of what those signs are and see their gynecologists if they experience them.

 

"Ovarian cancer signs include bloating, cramping, constipation and weight gain, which are really kind of vague things that many women experience anyway, so it’s difficult," Hensley says.

 

Fortunately, there is one relatively new tool that is helping in the fight against this most deadly gynecological cancer, as well as breast cancer. Women who have relatives in their immediate families who have had breast or ovarian cancer are at higher risk of the diseases, Hensley says. But those women can now be tested for the gene that predisposes them to such cancers, and doctors then can take special precautions to catch or arrest the disease in its tracks.

 

"It’s called the BRCA gene … and if you have that, you’re more likely to have breast and ovarian cancer," Hensley says. "So we can do a gene study, and if you’re positive for the gene, we know you’ll need a lot higher surveillance … that test has really sort of changed the playing field, as it relates to ovarian and breast cancer, for a lot of doctors."

 

At St. Elizabeth Healthcare, women not only can obtain the latest available genetic testing — including BRCA testing — but they also can enroll in a complete program of genetic counseling to assist in making the best decisions for each individual’s specific situation.

 

St. Elizabeth is also a top provider of all screening services for breast cancer — including the latest digital mammography at all of their Northern Kentucky locations — to help women age 40 and older to quickly and confidently obtain their recommended annual mammograms.



PHOTO CREDITS
Photo courtesy of 
St. Elizabeth Healthcare

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From fundraisers and informational campaigns to new technology and top-notch surgeons, several forces are at work to fight against breast cancer today. And the good news is that all the effort is really paying off, says Dr. Michael Guenther, a Northern Kentucky breast cancer surgeon.

 

As a breast oncologist, practicing at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, Guenther stays on the cutting edge of advancements in the medical field. He says that today more than 80 percent of those with breast cancer are eventually cured. That number also is increasing every year, thanks partly to earlier breast cancer detection by a more informed public.

 

"Today most cancers are found by mammography," Guenther says. "This reflects the fact that tumor sizes have gotten progressively smaller through the years as women buy into the concept of screening to find tumors at a smaller size."

 

Surgery remains the most common and effective treatment for localized breast cancer, Guenther says. In cases where the disease may be spreading to other parts of the body, surgery is most often combined with other treatments to battle the disease.

 

"Surgery and radiation and systemic treatment with anti-hormones or chemotherapy, are indicated for regional disease or for those with possible metastatic disease," Guenther says. "But, very few tumors are treated without surgery, and that’s usually [with] those who cannot or will not have surgery."

 

St. Elizabeth Cancer Care: A Focus on the Individual

 

Aside from the latest digital mammography services and the most advanced surgical, radiation and chemotherapy cancer treatments, St. Elizabeth offers a complete team of cancer experts including:

  • Surgical, medical and radiation oncologists
  • Medical physicists
  • Registered radiation therapists
  • Certified oncology nurses
  • Social workers
  • Registered dietitians
  • Pastoral care staff

 

 

091310DOCTALK.jpgAll these professionals are committed to the idea that top-notch cancer care focuses on treating all patients as the unique individuals they are. Likewise, everyone who comes to St. Elizabeth for breast cancer services can take confidence in the knowledge that they’re receiving the very latest procedures and treatments available to identify and treat the disease from the area’s most skilled professionals, like Guenther.

 

Guenther is particularly excited about advancements being made to diagnose and treat the disease because they hold the promise of helping even more people with breast cancer to win their fight against the illness, he says.

 

"A plethora of new treatments is in development," Guenther says. "A significant trend to individualizing treatment based on tumor genetics is happening right now, [as well as] targeted therapies that affect only cancer cells rather than the whole body, and pre-operative shrinkage of tumors to decrease the extent of surgery. It’s a very exciting time to be a breast oncologist."

 

Patients have come to trust Guenther and all the professionals at St. Elizabeth to provide the latest treatments and procedures to help find breast cancer early and eliminate the disease from their lives.

 

If you have questions about any services at St. Elizabeth’s locations throughout Northern Kentucky – or just want to schedule a screening mammogram – call St. Elizabeth today at any of the numbers listed. Join the thousands of women who’ve already partnered with St. Elizabeth for lifelong breast health and overall wellness.

 

Editor’s Note: This is a special advertising section provided by St. Elizabeth.

 

PHOTO CREDITS

Photo courtesy of St. Elizabeth

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When it comes to breast cancer, we’re living in pretty good times. That’s because today most women with the disease will survive and thrive and often with less radical measures than a complete mastectomy. But the key is early detection, says Dr. Heidi Murley, a local breast cancer surgeon.

 

Murley practices in Northern Kentucky and has performed hundreds of breast cancer operations at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. She says many of her patients with the disease never felt lumps in their breasts.

 

"Many of my patients present with the earliest stages of breast cancer, detected by screening mammograms. These patients have no palpable breast lumps and, without screening mammograms, would not have known that they had breast cancer," she says.

 

"Unfortunately, I also see many women who are diagnosed with later-stage breast cancer. Most of these women have obvious lumps in the breast or underarm area. Because breast cancer is most easily cured in its earliest stages, the best way to fight it is through early detection."

 

Murley recommends the following measures for all women:

  • Routine self-exams for breast lumps
  • Annual breast exams with a physician
  • Annual screening mammograms, beginning at age 40

 

Women at higher risk of the disease may need to take different precautions, which should be discussed with their physicians. Some patients may require other types of imaging tests as part of a plan of overall breast health. But all women can rest assured that all the resources needed — from the latest technology to the area’s best physicians — are available at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

 

St. Elizabeth Cancer Care: A Focus on the Individual

 

Aside from the latest digital mammography services and the most advanced surgical, radiation and chemotherapy cancer treatments, St. Elizabeth offers a complete team of cancer experts including:

  • Surgical, medical and radiation oncologists
  • Medical physicists
  • Registered radiation therapists
  • Certified oncology nurses
  • Social workers
  • Registered dietitians
  • Pastoral care staff

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All these professionals are committed to the idea that top-notch cancer care focuses on treating every patient as the unique individuals they are. Your names and faces are dear to them, and they understand the challenges you’re facing and carefully choose your treatment and necessary procedures to meet your specific needs. Then, as you progress through to wellness, the health professionals closely monitor your needs and continually adjust your care for the best results.

 

The diagnosis and treatment of cancer is continually evolving. There is a continual flow of ongoing studies on an array of breast cancer treatment options, Murley says. As a result, everyday research and technology is opening new doors for cancer patients, and at St. Elizabeth, patients receive the very latest and most effective care available, like that provided every day by physicians like Murley.

 

"Surgery remains necessary for most patients [with breast cancer], but minimally invasive treatments are possible for many women," she says.

 

"We have options for partial as well as whole breast radiation, and there are many ways to customize chemotherapy and anti-hormonal therapy to meet the needs of individual patients. Genetic studies of cancer cells can help us determine who will receive the most benefit from certain treatments. High-risk patients may choose surgery or medication to prevent breast cancer, and we are able to screen high-risk patients for genetic mutations that greatly increase cancer risk."

 

At St. Elizabeth, the professionals with the genetic counseling program and High-Risk Specialty Clinic are always available with the latest knowledge and technology to help women with special considerations just as effectively as St. Elizabeth does everything else.

 

If you have questions about any of these programs or just want to schedule a screening mammogram, call St. Elizabeth today at any of the numbers listed. Join the thousands of women who’ve already partnered with St. Elizabeth for lifelong breast health and overall wellness.

 

Editor’s Note: This is a special advertising section provided by St. Elizabeth.

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Surviving and thriving after breast cancer is all about early detection of the disease. In that respect, radiologists like Dr. Jackie Sweeney, are really on the front lines of the battle against the prevalent disease.

 

As a radiologist specializing in mammography at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, Sweeney is an expert at screening for breast cancer and performing interventional procedures, such as needle biopsies. Like the majority of professionals involved in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, Sweeney stresses the importance of regular mammograms.

 

But she acknowledges that an announcement last fall by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has left many women confused about when they should start receiving regular mammograms. Last November, the task force announced it was no longer recommending routine screenings for women younger than 50 at low risk of breast cancer and would only recommend screening every two years for low-risk women between the ages of 50 and 74.

 

Some physicians advocate adhering to the task force’s recommendation, so it’s important to check with your own doctor to discuss what might work best for you. But Sweeney083010DOC.jpg still sides with the recommendations of the American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology, which support annual screening mammography and clinical breast exams for all women 40 and older.

 

"The guidelines released this fall have created controversy, but most major medical groups continue to endorse yearly mammography, beginning at age 40," she says. "High-risk patients are evaluated on an individual basis in reference to starting routine earlier screening. … Screening mammography is still the gold standard to detect early-stage breast cancer."

 

Studies indicate that one in every 50 woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the time they turn 50, Sweeney says. In fact, at St. Elizabeth, she says 20-25 percent of new breast cancer diagnoses are in women younger than 50, most often in women with no significant risk factors.

 

The Advantages of Digital Mammography at St. Elizabeth


For nearly three years now, women receiving mammograms at St. Elizabeth have benefited from state-of-the-art digital imaging technology – a vast improvement over regular film screenings. And when it comes to detecting cancers early and in hard-to-find cases, digital mammography excels, Sweeney says.

 

"St. Elizabeth is a completely digital program … (and) digital mammography has been shown to be superior to film screens for dense tissue and detection of calcifications, which can be a sign of early breast cancer," she says.

 

That kind of early detection has been key in changing the statistics about breast cancer survival. In fact, the mortality rate from breast cancer has dropped 30 percent since 1990, due in part to better screening technology like digital mammography. Aside from that service — and the most advanced surgical, radiation and chemotherapy cancer treatments — St. Elizabeth also offers a complete team of cancer experts, including:

  • Surgical, medical and radiation oncologists
  • Medical physicists
  • Registered radiation therapists
  • Certified oncology nurses
  • Social workers
  • Registered dietitians
  • Pastoral care staff

 

 

All these professionals are committed to the idea that top-notch cancer care focuses on treating all patients as the unique individuals they are. Likewise, everyone who comes to St. Elizabeth for breast cancer services can take confidence in the knowledge that they’re receiving the very latest procedures and treatments available to identify and treat the disease from the area’s most skilled professionals, like Sweeney.

 

If you have questions about any services at St. Elizabeth’s locations throughout Northern Kentucky or just want to schedule a screening mammogram, call St. Elizabeth today at any of the numbers listed. Join the thousands of women who’ve already partnered with St. Elizabeth for lifelong breast health and overall wellness.

 

Editor’s Note: This is a special advertising section provided by St. Elizabeth.

 

 

PHOTO CREDITS

Photo courtesy of St. Elizabeth Healthcare