Women’s health focus of panel

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 24, 2004

There was a packed house in the Vaughan Regional Medical Center tower classroom Thursday evening during the hospital’s panel discussion with local physicians about women’s health.

Over 100 women attended the panel discussion held by Dr. Timothy Marlow, Dr. Monica Newton and Dr. Nicholas Psomiadis, where much of the focus was placed on breast and cervical cancer.

Psomiadis got the session started by explaining the importance of having yearly mammograms and doing monthly breast self-exams.

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“Getting a yearly exam at the doctor’s office is not enough,” Psomiadis said. “You need to do regular breast self-exams because a tumor could grow in the eleven months I don’t see you.”

The doctor added that the best reminder for women to check their breasts is during their monthly menstrual cycle.

For women who do not have a menstrual cycle or have gone through menopause, Psomiadis advised them to mark their calendars every fourth Sunday.

“Sundays are easier to remember than a day in the middle of the week,” he said.

Psomiadis also added that despite some long-held beliefs, there is no specific group of people who are at a higher risk of getting cancer.

“Anyone can get it. The majority of the time, we don’t know what causes breast cancer. Only five to 10 percent of cancers are hereditary,” he said. “But, you should let your doctor know about your family history.”

Screenings for cervical cancer are equally important, Psomiadis said, despite the discomfort of the tests.

“The Pap smear test has, hands down, saved more lives than any vaccine combined,” he said.

Newton, one of Vaughan’s family physicians, said while breast and cervical cancers are important issues, one of the most common killers of women is heart disease.

“There are more deaths related to heart disease than all leading cancers combined,” she said.

Women do not have the same signs of a possible heart attack as men, Newton said, so it is important for women to have regular doctor visits.

“Shortness of breath is just one of the vague symptoms of heart disease for women,” she said.

The doctor also explained the signs and symptoms of a stroke, which include tingling, inability to find words, and dizzy spells.

“Tobacco contributes to getting lung cancer, several other types of cancers and coronary disease,” Newton said. “All the cancers caused by cigarette smoke and alcohol can be prevented.”

Marlow was the last doctor to speak during the nearly two hour discussion. The doctor told visitors to Vaughan that Mississippi and Alabama have the highest obesity rates in the country.

“The highest obesity rate is in Wilcox County,” Marlow said. “That means that the fattest people in the world are right next-door.”

Marlow then encouraged everyone in the audience to avoid “lusting after flesh, addictives and food” in order to lead better lives.