Blog - October 2016

Cancer, Mortality and Smoking: Bad Numbers but They CAN Be Better!

Posted on October 28, 2016 in general radiology


of cancer deaths - more than a whopping one-quarter - in the United States are caused by cigarette smoking alone. This means 29 out of every 100 cancer deaths in our country are preventable.


This statistic would feel much worse if we didn’t have good news to couple with it: it is absolutely possible to quit - and the reasons to quit go beyond lung cancer.


This latest assessment of the toll of smoking relating to cancer and cancer deaths was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association October 24th, 2016. Part of the reason that smoking is responsible for so many cancer deaths is because it is responsible for so many cancer types - so much more than lung cancer.


The JAMA study covered 12 types of cancers known to be associated with tobacco use as specified by the US Surgeon General - “acute myeloid leukemia and cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx; esophagus; stomach; colorectum; liver; pancreas; larynx; trachea, lung, and bronchus; cervix uteri; kidney and renal pelvis; and urinary bladder.” Not all cancer types related to tobacco use were included, and yes, there’s even a link between increased breast cancer risk with smoking. Adding those cancers in the count would have meant even MORE cancer deaths are preventable.


Now back to the somewhat better news we promised. Recently, CVS and HuffPo teamed up to educate the public on how great it is to quit smoking. Their infographic (here) is worth printing and hanging in your cubicle if you need some positive motivation. Did you know that you begin to reap the rewards of quitting within 30 minutes? There are benchmarks of improvement for months and then years out as your body heals itself.


As an aside, there are also fiscal benefits of quitting. A multitude of online calculators and smartphone apps can tell you how much quitting can mean for your bottoms line, perhaps providing additional, future goal motivation, like “Quitting a half-pack a day habit earns you enough spare cash to travel to southeast Asia round-trip within a year”.


Preventable cancer deaths - let’s find a way to end them for good! It’s not the “moonshot” solution to all, but it’s a tangible place to start. There are a multitude of resources available to help you quit and to help keep you from being a part of that ugly statistic. From apps, to hotlines, to support group to some good old tips and tricks, you too can be on the path to self-improvement (and if you want, perhaps on a vacation adventure of a lifetime).


Image credit: Public Domain via Pixabay


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Roentgenizdat: X-rays, Rock'n'Roll and Soviet Russia

Posted on October 21, 2016 in general radiology


What happens when rock’n’roll, x-rays and political resistance come together?


Roentgenizdat, that’s what.


Let us explain…


Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen is famous for discovering the x-ray, and his name is even used as a unit of measurement of radiation. His life changing discovery came in the last years of the 1800s.


Decades passed.


Then came new forms of music, a few wars, some radicals and… the fear by some misguided governments that rock’n’roll would incite the masses against them. In the case of roentgenizdat, it was the government of the Soviet Union, post WWII, that feared the influence of western music, literature, and rowdy free-thinkers.


When vinyl records are forbidden, what can help?


Ronten’s discovery to the rescue! Enterprising music lovers found a way to record music onto already exposed (and discarded) x-ray films. Imagine a recording on the turntable going round and round with the images of someone’s hand or chest decorating the “record”. These rare prints have colorful nicknames like “bone music” or “rock’n’ribs”.


It’s important to remember in those times and places, it wasn’t just Kevin Bacon winning the rebelling teens over to dance* - this type of subversion wasn’t adolescents battling their parents to be cool. These recordings were literally considered to be an act against the government, punishable by years in prison or labor camps. While “bone music” can appear interesting for vinyl-lovers, music-lovers, radiologists… it is also profound, historically.


Musician Stephen Coates talks about his discovery and obsession with bone music in this interview on NPR; his book X-Ray Audio: The Strange Story of Soviet Music on the Bone (find it at your public library) and further stories can be found here. If that leaves you wanting to know more, 99% Invisible also covers more of the story at this site. The podcast is a great listen, even if the medium is digital and not written on bones!


*Doctors’ note: We approve of the dancing, but not the smoking. Quit, Kevin!

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Making an Impact - One Person at a Time

Posted on October 17, 2016 in mammography

Cynthia came for her yearly mammogram Friday- Cynthia is my hero of the day. She embodies the spirit of this October, showing that just one person can make a difference.


You see, Cynthia had a colleague, perhaps just like someone you know: a co-worker who had never had - and really didn't want to have - a mammogram. With gentle persuasion, Cynthia prodded that colleague into have that screening mammogram. And yes, you guessed it, that reluctant co-worker had a 3D mammogram which found breast cancer, changing her life.


There are many reasons women choose not to get screened - fear, confusion, lack of time - all these can block women from taking potentially life-saving action. But if we can find the way to dismantle those roadblocks we CAN make a difference in women’s lives. The roadblocks can seem daunting - some of the issues too complex for an easy, quick solution. But just as Cynthia’s story showed us, sometimes it just takes one person.


One person can take the time to say, “Hey - I did it, you can too.”


One person can say, “Hey - this can make a big difference for you.”


One person can say, “Hey - I care about you - do whatever you can to be your healthiest.”


So, today I salute Cynthia! And we at Diagnostic Imaging Centers together salute all of you who are out there making a difference - one ribbon at a time.


- Dr. Linda Harrison, radiologist and women’s imaging expert


Image credit: “One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” by Ginny via Flickr. Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).


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