Preventing Melanoma

As the summer season comes to an end, we close a chapter engaged in beach activities or just relaxing outdoors in the sun.   Soon we focus our attention on fall and winter seasons and become less mindful of our skin until next summer. But there are a few warm days still left, and we do enjoy travel to sunny areas in the winter months, so before we close this chapter on skin health, let’s review a thing or two about melanoma…

Melanoma is not the most common type of skin cancer but it is the most feared because it is not 100% preventable, it is difficult to detect and it can metastasize (spread) rapidly…. It develops in cells called melanocytes which produce melanin (the pigment responsible for giving your skin its color) through a process called malanogenesis.  It is not known what causes all melanomas but genetics and environmental causes play a large role.

Not all persons have the same risk of developing melanoma so prevention begins with detailed knowledge of 1) any newly formed moles, changes to preexisting moles and evolving congenital moles. 2) Your skin type also plays a role in the incidence of melanoma, 3) your exposure history to UV light through the years either from the sun, tanning beds or a combination of the two.  4) Immunosuppression from a variety of causes and 5) a family history of the following:

  • Family history of melanoma or other skin cancer
  • Family history of irregular, prominent moles
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer or astrocytoma
  • Family history of dysplastic nevus syndrome (multiple atypical moles)
  • Patient history of dysplastic nevus syndrome
  • History of previous melanoma
  • History of congenital moles
  • History of early and frequent use of tanning beds before the age of 30
  • Changes noted in moles (e.g. itching,  bleeding, or ulceration)

Direct knowledge of your own history as well as your family’s history should raise any awareness to the potential for the development of melanoma and prompt a visit with your doctor to review your risk.  Your doctor should review this history with you and offer a full skin exam with discussion about any needed surveillance or the possibility of a biopsy.  Two common screening tools doctors use to assist them with suspicious moles include 1) The ABCDE rule and 2) The Ugly Duckling rule.  Both are very good screening tools and are meant to identify pre-melanotic and melanotic moles.

The price of prevention and early detection cannot be overstated:  a stage 1 melanoma carries up to a 95% survival.  A stage 4 melanoma carries less than a 20 % survival.  While early detection of Melanoma is good, prevention of pre-melanotic lesions from turning into melanoma is optimal.

Feel free to call us or come in for a free consultation.  Among the many services we offer include counseling on suspicious moles, mole mapping and incisional & excision biopsies for suspicious lesions and moles.

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Viscosupplementation for Treatment of Osteoarthritis

Our procedural medicine practice strives to provide patients with the best, up-to-date and comprehensive health care for a variety of illnesses; including alternative options and continued follow up.  On our first blog, we discuss viscosupplementation to treat osteoarthritis of the knees.

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, or degenerative arthritis as it is also called, is the most common form of arthritis that affects about 27 million Americans. The symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, swelling and loss of mobility. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body but is most debilitating in the knees, shoulders and hips.

The normal joint fluid contains a substance called hyaluronan or hyaluronic acid which is designed to work as form of “shock absorber” and lubricant for the joint to ensure that it works properly. People who suffer from osteoarthritis have a lower-than-normal concentration of hyaluronan in their joint fluid from inflamed cells that produce a high volume of inferior joint fluid. Because of this, the knee, when injured heals poorly and there is a resultant fluid build-up in the knee… “Water on the knee”.

Treatment For Osteoarthritis with Viscosupplementation

While there is no cure for this illness, it is best treated in its early stages using a variety of non-surgical methods one of which includes viscosupplementation or joint fluid therapy – Viscosupplementation was first used in Asia and Europe and was approved by the FDA in the United States in 1997. Viscosupplementation has been shown to relieve pain in many patients who’ve not previously responded to other non-surgical methods.

With viscosupplementation, hyaluronic acid is injected into the affected joint to help reduce pain and increase mobility, so the patient can enjoy more activity with less pain.

Dr. Chavez has been treating patients with osteoarthritis of the knee and shoulder with viscosupplementation for over 10 years.  While there are many practitioners treating patients with viscosupplementation, It is important to make sure they follow the keys to maximal improvement

1) Imaged guided injections by an experienced clinician

2) Physical Therapy by knowledgeable and trained staff

3) Management of contributing factors to persistent knee pain.

Who is a Candidate for Viscosupplementation?

Virtually any patient with Osteoarthiritis can be a candidate for this treatment and most patients will benefit and respond to this form a therapy including patients who have not found relief of their symptoms with pain killers, steroid injections or physical therapy.

Call Us Today For Osteoarthritis Pain Relief

If your osteoarthritis or knee pain is not responding well to non-surgical treatments or if you’ve had this treatment in the past with little to no success or even if you wish to put off having surgery, schedule an appointment for a free consultation at our Wicker Park or Lincoln Park office to find out if viscosupplementation is right for you.

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M.Chavez, MD, SC

Thank you for visiting our blog!

We will be using this space to share office news, current medical information and updates on the medical services we offer. We also will be posting regular reading materials here, which we hope you find interesting! So do drop by often to see what’s new!

If you would like to schedule an appointment at our Wicker Park Office, please click on the ‘Schedule an Appointment’ tab on our website and then follow the simple instructions or, to schedule at our Lincoln Park Office, please contact us online or call our office:  773-227-3303



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