Hepatitis B – Its causes and effects

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a worldwide problem and can cause acute hepatitis, acute liver failure, chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and liver cancer. As WHO marks its third annual World Hepatitis Day, it said about two billion people worldwide have been infected with hepatitis B since its discovery and about 600,000 people die every year as a result of the infection.

In recent years the UAE has made moves to relax rules surrounding medical tests for those seeking work permits.

This means that mandatory tests for hepatitis C no longer exist and visa screening and deportation for hepatitis B only applies to certain professions.

It was in 2010 that the Ministry of Health announced an overhaul of the residency medical law.

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Neurological conditions in children

Common neurological problems in children

The brain is one of the most important and delicate organs in the human body. Neurological problems are those issues caused by a dysfunction of the brain or nervous system and result in psychological or physical symptoms depending on the area of the brain involved, leading to disorders.

The human brain begins developing when the child is in the womb and continues through infancy until adolescence. The brain cells are mostly formed before birth, although the nerve connections do not develop until later. Neurological disorders have a wide spectrum and can have various causes, complications, symptoms, and results. All neurological conditions involve the nervous system which comprises of the brain and the spine. The nervous system controls everything in the human body including movement, vision and hearing abilities. Symptoms and outcomes depend on the area of the brain that has been damaged. (more…)

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Breast cancer early detection

Ways to detect Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a form of cancer that develops from the breast tissue. It is mostly found in women, however, can be diagnosed in men too.

Know symptoms and signs of breast cancer include:

  • Nipple discharge or retraction of the nipple
  • Enlargement of one breast, dimpling of the breast surface
  • An “orange peel” texture to the skin
  • Unintentional weight loss and bone pain
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit
  • Visible veins on the breast.

The risk factors for developing breast cancer include obesity due to a lack of physical exercise, drinking alcohol, hormone replacement, therapy during menopause, early age at first menstruation, having children late or not at all and family history.

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Prostate Cancer – It’s Causes and Symptoms.

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system and is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The size of the gland changes with age, being smaller in young men and larger in older men. Being a part of the male reproductive system, the prostate gland functions to produce and release a fluid that forms part of the semen.

Cancer is a condition in which the cells in a particular part of the body start growing uncontrollably and crowd out the normal cells. Cells in any part of the body can become cancer cells and spread to the other parts of the body. Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland, in men, start to multiply uncontrollably. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Prostate cancer usually grows slowly and initially remains confined to the prostate gland itself, where it may not cause serious harm. While some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly. Unlike other forms of cancer, however, if detected early, prostate cancer has a very high rate of survival attached to it.

Despite the high rate of diagnosis for prostate cancer in older men, doctors have not been able to pinpoint one or more exact causes as to why prostate cancer presents itself in some men. What doctors do know is how the process of prostate cancer begins and spreads. Cancer begins when cells in the prostate become abnormal. Mutations present in the DNA of the cells cause them to grow and multiply more rapidly than normal cells would. These mutated cells continue surviving while the normal cells around them perish. The accumulating mutated cells form a tumour that can grow to invade the nearby tissue. These abnormal cells can also break off (metastasize) and spread to other parts of the body.

Although doctors have not identified a direct cause for the advent of prostate cancer in men, they have been able to identify risk factors that increase the chances of getting prostate cancer. These risk factors include:

  • Age: Statistics show that the older a person is, the more likely they are to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. The rate of diagnosis for men under 40 is 1 in 10,000. However, this rate shoots up considerably as the age bracket increases. The rate of diagnosis for men between the ages of 40 and 59 is 1 in 38, while the rate of diagnosis for men above the age of 60 is 1 in 14.
  • Family history/ Genetics: Another risk factor is the presence of prostate cancer in the family. If men in a family have a history of prostate cancer, then it is likely to be passed down onto the successive generations. Furthermore, if the women have a family history of containing the gene that increases the risk for breast cancer (BRCA 1 or BRCA2), then to the risk of prostate cancer increases for the offspring.
  • Obesity: Although there is no direct linkage between a high BMI and the risk of getting prostate cancer, it has been observed that obese men that have been diagnosed with prostate cancer usually suffer from the aggressive form of the disease.

One of the standout features of prostate cancer is also the reason why doctors strongly suggest that men over 40 get regularly screened for the disease, namely, that has no overt symptoms. Since prostate cancer starts in a relatively small gland, located in a relatively obscure position in the body, the disease stays silent for many years. In some cases, it has been seen in autopsies in patients that have died from other causes that they were suffering from prostate cancer as well, without having shown any physical symptoms for the same. However, in more aggressive forms of the disease, there are certain physical discomforts that can arise, these include:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night; sometimes urgently
  • Difficulty starting or holding back urination
  • Weak, dribbling, or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • A decrease in the amount of fluid ejaculated
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis, or thighs

However, these symptoms may also be indicative of the presence of other diseases such as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) or prostatitis.

Almost all forms of prostate cancer are adenocarcinomas, and they might vary between gestating slowly and gestating rapidly. Due to the lack of symptoms, until very late into the disease, physicians and doctors are usually adamant about their male patients above 40 getting checked for prostate cancer. Despite the widespread nature of the disease, there is still a lot of misinformation about it and a general lack of knowledge about it, amongst the general public. In the UAE itself, 20% of all cancer cases were those of the prostate kind. As men get older it is imperative that they get themselves checked for any signs of prostate cancer, because as mentioned earlier, early detection of the disease can go a long way in eliminating it from the body completely.

Dr.Nazeer Ahamed

Specialist Urologist 

Aster Clinic, Bur Dubai (AJMC)

Dr.-Nazeer-Ahamed

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The Papanicolaou test (Pap Test, Cervical Smear, Pap Smear or Smear Test)

What is Pap smear?

A Pap smear is a simple test to check your cervix to make sure it is healthy. Your cervix is the opening of the womb. The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancerous cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.

 

Why are cervical screening tests advised?

Cervical cancer is a disease that can often be prevented. Early changes can be detected in the neck of the womb (cervix), which indicate that cancer may develop. It usually takes 3–7 years for high-grade changes in cervical cells to become cancer. Cervical cancer screening may detect these changes before they become cancer. Since screening started, the numbers of cases of cervical cancer have dramatically dropped. It is one of the few types of cancer which can be detected and stopped before it ever begins.

 

What causes cervical cancer?

An infection with a virus called HPV (human papillomavirus) is the cause of almost all cervical cancers. There are more than 100 different types of HPV. Two of these types are known to cause most of cervical cancer. HPV is very common. Most people (four out of five) will have HPV at some time in their lives. Anyone who has ever had sex can have HPV. In most cases, HPV clears up by itself in a few years. This means that most women who are infected with HPV do not develop cancer. Sometimes the virus can stay in your body longer and can lead to cervical cancer. This usually takes a long time.

 

How is Pap smear done?

During the Pap test, the doctor will use a plastic or metal instrument, called a speculum, to widen your vagina. This helps the doctor examine the vagina and the cervix, and collect a few cells and mucus from the cervix and the area around it. The cells are then placed on a slide or in a bottle of liquid and sent to a laboratory. The laboratory will check to be sure that the cells are normal. If the test shows any abnormality, you will have treatment to stop you ever getting cancer of the cervix. So, an abnormal test does not mean you have cancer. It means you should have some treatment to stop you getting cancer. Cervical screening tests are not painful, although some women find the speculum uncomfortable. It generally helps if you can relax – this makes the experience better for you and easier for the person taking the sample.

 

When does Pap smear need to be done?

The screening guidelines vary from country to country. In general, the Pap test is recommended for all the women about the age of 21 – 25 years and continuous until the age of 65 years. It can be done in a doctor’s clinic. Screening is typically recommended every 3 to 5 years as long as the results are normal.

Pap smear screening is also recommended for those who have been vaccinated against HPV. As the vaccines don’t cover all types of HPV and the vaccine does not protect against HPV exposure before vaccination.

Only cancer for which the Pap test screens is cervical cancer. It does not screen for ovarian, uterine, vaginal, or vulvar cancers. So even if you have a Pap test regularly, if you notice any signs or symptoms that are unusual for you, see a doctor find out why you’re having them. If your Pap test results are normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait three years until your next Pap test.

 

What do the results of the cervical screening test mean?

In most women, the cells that are taken are found to be normal. Abnormal cells are found in some women. An abnormal result does not mean cancer in the vast majority of cases. Abnormal cells indicate that cancer may develop sometime in the future. About 6 women in 100 will have an abnormal result that requires further testing or treatment.The results are reported as one of the following:

  • Normal.
  • Inadequate.
  • Abnormal – of which there are several grades or degrees of abnormalities from low grade to high grade.
  • Possible cancer cells: invasive or glandular neoplasia.

Most of these changes will not lead to cervical cancer. Treatment can be given to prevent cancer from developing in women with abnormal cells. Depending on your test results, your health care provider may recommend:

Routine follow-up testing. Depending on your age and tests received, this may be every 3-5 years.

Follow-up testing with a Pap test and an HPV test.

Colposcopy and cervical biopsy

Like a lot of medical testing, it’s not very pleasant to do a pap smear but the brief discomfort isn’t a good reason to neglect your wellbeing. Getting regular pap smear is the best way to protect your health from cervical cancer.

Dr.Usha Sethi

Specialist Gynaecologist 

Aster Clinic, Tecom (Barsha Heights) 

Dr.-Usha-Sethi1

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