Archive For "April, 2014"

Ask the Pros- Dr. Kris Gast

Q: My testosterone level is in the low range.  Should I take a testosterone replacement? What are the side effects?


A: A male’s testosterone level peaks in early adulthood and begins to drop by 1% a year according to the Mayo Clinic. Men with low levels of testosterone could benefit from replacement treatment.  However, the side effects of such treatment include an increased risk of cardiac disease, kidney disease, acne, sleep apnea, enlarging breasts, and shrinking testicles.  Testosterone replacement can also increase one’s risk of developing prostate cancer. This past January, the FDA announced plans to investigate the use of the treatment because of reports of stroke, heart attacks, and death in men who used the replacement.  When considering taking the replacement, please consult with your doctor and decide what is best for you.


Q: What determines how many radiation treatments are given?


A:.  Many factors help determine how many radiation treatments patients will receive for a cancer diagnosis.  The type and stage of the cancer are the first and most important factors to evaluate.  Next, since overall health plays a vital role in determining the treatment plan, a patient’s ability to tolerate the standard treatment regimen must be decided.  Another practical issue to consider as a factor involves travel constraints for patients living far distances from treatment centers.  As with all medical treatments, radiation treatment plans for patients should be individualized and customized to their specific cases.



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April Cancer Demystified

Last week a new study was released regarding the use of mammograms.  This report looked at 50 years of data from a multitude of international studies.  According to the study, women in their 40’s who have regular mammograms, see a 15% reduction in death rates from breast cancer. Women in their 60’s have a 32% decrease. Identified also were risk factors for breast cancer, which include family history, age, genetic risks such as BRCA H2 genes, hormone use, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and later-in-life childbirth.

Another result of the study has raised questions about mammograms. The study found that for a 40-50 year-old woman having annual mammograms, the risk of a false positive over 10 years is at 61%.  That means that 61 out of 100 women will receive a positive reading when, in fact, it is negative.  This type of error can lead the patient to have additional x-rays, MRI, and even biopsies.

Nevertheless, the American Cancer Society continues to recommend yearly mammograms starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.  Because screening is based on life expectancy, screening women over the age of 75 is debated.    However, the fact that Americans are living longer overall should be considered in determining the appropriateness of continuing mammograms after a certain age. That decision should be made by the patient and her doctor.

Mammograms are still the best screening tool today used for breast cancer detection.   Every woman is different. Therefore, care should be personalized, not standardized.  Please talk to your doctor and discuss what is best for you.

Posted In: Cancer Demystified by Dr. Kris Gast
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