Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas
Vol. 2, No. 1 — July 2011
In this Issue
What You Need to Know About GERD
By Viralkumar Patel, M.D.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition that develops when the reflux of stomach contents causes troublesome symptoms, typically heartburn, belching or regurgitation of gastric contents into the throat. Both males and females, including infants and children, can have GERD. If not treated, it can lead to more serious health problems. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of Americans were reported as having GERD symptoms at least once a week.
Initial treatment of GERD starts with lifestyle modifications such as weight loss, avoiding acid reflux inducing foods (excessive caffeine, chocolate, fatty foods, alcohol, peppermint), avoiding large or late-evening meals as well as raising the head of the bed 6 to 8 inches. For mild symptoms not helped by lifestyle modification, medications such as over-the-counter antacids or stomach histamine blockers (famotidine, cimetidine) may be helpful. For severe symptoms, more-potent agents such as proton pump inhibitors (omeprazole) have been shown to be beneficial. In patients who continue to have symptoms despite medical therapy, anti-reflux surgery may be an option.
When appropriately treated, acid reflux is generally a benign condition. Rarely, it can lead to complications such as esophageal ulcers, esophageal narrowing due to constant acid exposure (esophageal stricture), or lung and asthma problems due to aspiration of gastric acid. Long-standing acid reflux can also lead to a condition called Barrett's esophagus.
Barrett's esophagus is a precancerous condition affecting the lining of the esophagus. When chronic acid reflux exposes the lining of the esophagus to acid, this lining can be injured and breaks down. With prolonged acid exposure, normal cells can undergo a genetic change and transform into abnormal Barrett's cells. These cells are vulnerable to further changes that can lead to esophageal cancer.
Barrett's esophagus is a serious condition, but when caught early, it can be effectively treated by a gastroenterologist. Texas Health Dallas offers physicians on its medical staff access to radio-frequency ablation technology (RFA). The RFA procedure involves no incisions. A tiny camera, along with a specialized balloon, is placed in the patient's esophagus. The balloon then delivers a short burst of energy that safely burns out the Barrett's tissue.
In most cases primary-care doctors can successfully treat patients with GERD. In more serious cases, such as Barrett's esophagus, they can refer patients for an evaluation by a gastroenterologist, a specialist who has advanced training in managing complicated or severe GERD.
Top of Page
Focus on Men’s Health
By Pat Fulgham, M.D.
With Father's Day having just occurred in June, now is an opportune time to focus on men's health.
Do you know that men are less likely than women to be aware of the benefit of preventive medicine and are less likely to seek medical care unless they have an injury or specific reason to visit the doctor? Men cite different reasons for not going to the doctor, including being too busy, the visit being too expensive or fear of what the doctor might find.
There is one common problem for which men do tend to seek treatment, namely, erectile dysfunction. When Viagra became available in 1998, my office was flooded with men requesting the new medication. This was fortunate, as it gave me the opportunity to discuss with them the potential underlying causes of their erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction in young men can be one of the first signs of atherosclerosis and diabetes. It also gave me the opportunity to evaluate their prostate health. It is increasingly clear that prostate health and sexual health are interrelated. Treating one may improve the other.
Another related issue of importance to men is low testosterone. As men age, their testosterone levels naturally go down. This change may result in symptoms such as muscle wasting, lack of interest in sex, and difficulty with memory. A testosterone level is easy to check, and supplements can be given if appropriate.
It is my hope that all men will make an annual physical examination and a PSA blood test part of their routine. By taking charge of their own health, men help guarantee the future of their families.
Top of Page
Texas Health Dallas Begins Participation in The Cancer Genome Atlas
Teresa Turbeville, Texas Health Research & Education Institute
Your body is made up of trillions of cells, each containing your "master blueprint" or genes (DNA). By studying the differences in the way genes in the different types of cancers are working, researchers hope to develop better ways to diagnose and treat patients. The Cancer Genome Atlas, a project of the National Cancer Institute, hopes to create the most detailed information to date of the genes that control cancer cells.
Patients who are already scheduled for surgery to remove a tumor can agree to be in the study. They will have a section of their tumors collected after they have been surgically removed. The tissues will be studied by a pathologist and then frozen, along with samples of blood. Although DNA information provided by participants in this study will not be used to determine their treatment, it is hoped that the information learned will help to develop better ways to diagnose and treat patients.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas is one of only 20 hospitals in the country selected to work on the project. Dr. Pam Jensen and Dr. James Strauss are the primary researchers at Texas Health Dallas.
If you are interested in learning more about participating in the study, please call Ben Garcia, R.N. (214-794-8111), Pam Jensen, M.D. (214-345-7280) or James Strauss, M.D. (214-739-4175).
Top of Page
Supporting Our Community
| Relay for Life 2011
| Cancer Survivors Day 2011
By Matt Schneider, Texas Health Dallas Administrative Director - Oncology
Health care is all about people! The mission of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas is "to improve the health of the people in the communities we serve." Community involvement is an important way our staff live that mission every day.
American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, North Dallas - May 13
The staff of Texas Health Dallas and Texas Oncology teamed up to support this worthy cause. Our 61-member team, which included cancer survivors, was the second largest at the event and raised nearly $6,000 for the American Cancer Society while helping to demonstrate that cancer survivors can not only survive but thrive!
National Cancer Survivors Day - June 5
Celebrating life is important! In recognition of National Cancer Survivors Day, the cancer care team at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas once again hosted a celebration of life. Nearly 200 survivors and their families gathered to enjoy food, fellowship and joyful celebration. The room quickly filled with laughter and a few tears of joy as patients reunited with the care providers who shared the treatment journey with them. Speakers included Dr. Lee Bourland, breast surgeon, and an inspirational message from Richard Wipf, a new survivor. The afternoon concluded with dozens of door prizes, many hugs and promises to see one another again next year.
Dadfest - June 18
On Father's Day weekend the Urology Research & Education Foundation, with sponsorship from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and others, continued the tradition of celebrating fathers and families with a 5k Run and Walk at Galatyn Park in Richardson. This fun-filled family event provides an ideal opportunity for men and their families to enjoy some exercise during the cool morning and enjoy games, a climbing wall and fun with the many event sponsors. While there, 70 men who qualified for prostate cancer screenings were able to do so in the comfort of the Texas Health Wellness Motor Coach.
The Texas Health Dallas staff will continue to donate thousands of hours in community service at events like these. Watch upcoming issues to learn how you can become more involved in the health and wellness of your community.
Top of Page