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Cancer-something you cannot be prepared for?

Cancer…The problem of the century. In a moment you think you are healthy and live a normal life, the next moment you discover you have cancer. That’s when the fight begins.  Being in a family where cancer was present made me get an interest about it, trying to understand it better and what cause it. So yeah..me and cancer have a long ‘friendship’ together.

Let’s start with some basic information about cancer.Cancer is when abnormal cells divide in an uncontrolled way(mutation). Or how I like to say when one cell or several cells throw a party, they drink too much and start behave in a weird way. 😀  (Check the video below for a better understanding)

How does cancer spread? Cancer cells can spread from where they started to other parts of the body, where they can grow into new tumours. This process is called metastasis.

Cancer can spread in 3 ways:

  • invasion – the tumour grows into surrounding tissues or structures.
  • through the bloodstream – cancer cells break away from the tumour, enter the bloodstream and travel to a new location in the body.
  • through the lymphatic system – cancer cells break away from the tumour and travel through the lymph vessels and lymph nodes to other parts of the body.

The video below, presented by Ivan Seah Yu Jun, explains the three common routes of metastasis. Worth seeing it!

 

Most people ask, it is enough to have a healthy life to prevent cancer? Well…yes and no. I used to believe that if you smoke, drink and practically have an unhealthy lifestyle you will surely make cancer. This statement was strengthened by my grandfather’s death who died of liver cancer. To be honest it was a shocked for me when he died, probably because nobody told me that he was sick. I was just 6 years old back then and although I saw that my grandmother used to cry every night and that something was different, that he looked so different, like a completely new person, I’ve never thought that those months will be the last with him. Much later when I grew up I found out that he had last stage of cancer and that nothing could have been done for him.
Years past by and another case of cancer was discovered in my family, like I said in the beginning.. me and cancer have a looooong friendship. This new case of cancer made me think again about the reasons why cancer start to develop in some people.  My grandmother has never smoked, she always been active, moderating how much alcohol she drinks ( like one glass of red wine once a month) and eating five daily portions of fruit and vegetables. But does all of it prevent her from cancer? No it doesn’t. Even though this healthy lifestyle didn’t prevent her from cancer, it made her combat it and win the fight against it.

We always think that we will make cancer because we have an unhealthy lifestyle but  we should also consider our genes. Is cancer genetic? Yes it is. Some people have an increased risk of particular types of cancer because they have an inherited gene fault. These genes can be passed on from parent to child. This occurs when there is a mistake or a fault in the genes in an egg or sperm cell. These genes would normally protect us against cancer – they correct DNA damage that naturally occurs when cells divide. Inheriting a faulty copy of one of these genes means that it cannot repair damaged DNA in cells. This means the cells may become cancerous. Being born with one inherited faulty gene doesn’t mean that a person will definitely get cancer. But they have a higher risk of developing particular types of cancer than other people. They are also more likely to develop cancer at a younger age.

Currently tests are available for gene faults that increase the risk of breast cancer, bowel cancer, ovarian cancer, womb cancer and prostate cancer. Tests are also available for rare gene faults that may increase the risk of kidney cancer, melanoma skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer and a type of eye cancer called retinoblastoma. So if you think you might have cancer or you might develop it in future don’t hesitate to do a cancer test. It may save your life.

Other aspects that I strongly think produce cancer are the pollution and radiations we live in. I thought about it after a child, she was just 5 year old, died of thyroid cancer. There hasn’t been anyone with cancer in her family before so a genetic cancer is excluded, also her mother gave her everything as natural/bio as possible. All the food from bread, cheese to vegetables and fruits were made by them. So why she died of cancer? The only explication that I could find in this case are the radiations and pollution we are living in. (what do you think about it?)

Let’s now talk about the psychiatric trauma that the patients with cancer go through and not just the patients but also their families.

There are 3 phases:

-Denial

-Acceptance

-Reconciliation

Denial

The patient cannot accept the problem, the diagnosis being an inconceivable problem for him, becomes a mist of his own consciousness, incapable of correctly perceiving the causes that led to that disease.

Acceptance

Accepting and searching for symptomatology of the disease, finding a temporal solution in solving the situation, the silent confrontation with yourself in order to solve the thoughts that made you give up.

Reconciliation

Reconciliation with diagnosis, with the illness itself, cooperation with peers. The emergence of hope that clarifies the division between life and death.

 

The only thing that remains to do is to fight against it with all the resources we have in this moment. Just because you have cancer doesn’t mean your life is over, you have a thousand of reasons to fight for. Never give up! Fight for your life when everything seems impossible because if you just give up your battle against cancer is already lost. There will always be people that will help you, that will try to find solutions even if that means they won’t sleep for days just to give you another chance to life. So prove them that you want to win this battle and after you win it you can help other people in the same situation, you can be an example for them that it is worth fighting. Never give up! You can do it no matter what!

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P.S. If you want to find out more about cancer I recommend you Cancer Research UK

Is the head transplant a real thing or not?

Head transplant? Are we that advanced to do it? When you hear about it you may thing “are we in a Frankenstein movie?” Well we aren’t but you have to admit that would be cool. It looks like medicine evolved so much. Just think about the first discoveries ever made, how it all started. Maybe the next step will be the cure of cancer or who knows. (if you want to know more about the history of medicine check out the last post )

The first human head transplant will take place in December this year. This will be performed by an Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero with a crew of 150 medics and about 80 of them would be surgeons.

But let’s start from the beginning. How it all started? Ever since the early 1900s, people have discussed the possibility of head transplant. However, at that time surgeons faced with many challenges. One of the main challenges in transplant surgery was reliable vessel anastomosis. Vascular surgeons struggled thinking how to cut and repair an injured vessel and subsequently restore blood flow without interrupting circulation. Bone, silver and gold, and absorbable material grafts were in use back then, but these materials gave uncertain and variable results in patients. A french surgeon, Dr. Alexis Carrel, was the one that changed these results by using a more reliable method of suturing severed vessels back together ( he used fine needles and extremely thin threads as suture and enlarged the severed vessel opening using three retaining sutures to form a triangular shape).

Attention!!! If you are a dog lover, the paragraph that follows may affect you so please skip to the next one.

 

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In 1908,  Dr.  Alexis Carrel and Dr. Charles Guthrie, performed the first dog head transplant. They attached one dog’s head onto another dog’s neck, connecting arteries in such a way that blood flowed first to the decapitated head and then to the recipient head. The decapitated head was without blood flow for about 20 min, and while the dog demonstrated aural, visual, and cutaneous reflex movements early after the procedure, its condition soon deteriorated and it was euthanized after a few hours. The transplant failed. In 1954, Dr. Vladmir Demikhov also attempted a canine head transplant. Demikhov’s dogs demonstrated more functional capacity than Guthrie and Carrel’s dogs and were able to move, see, and lap up water. A step-by-step documentation of Demikhov’s protocol published in 1959 reveals how his team carefully preserved the blood supply to the lung and hearts of the donor dog:

First they made an incision at the base of the large dog’s neck, exposing the jugular vein, the aorta and a segment of the spinal column. Next they drilled two holes through the bony part of one vertebra and threaded two plastic strings, one red and one white, through each of the holes
 Then he and Demikhov, deftly wielding the scalpel, needle and thread, proceeded with infinite pains to expose the small blood vessels, drawing a tight knot of thread around each one in turn as they carved gradually deeper into Shavka’s vitals. Finally Demikhov severed the spinal column.

Even though the rest of its body had been amputated from this dog, its head and forepaws still retained and used the lungs and heart. During the third phase of the transplantation, the main blood vessels of this dog’s head were connected with the corresponding vessels of the host dog. The longest that any dog survived this surgery was 29 days, also longer than Guthrie’s and Carrel’s dogs, but unfortunately most died within a few days.




Back to Dr. Sergio Canavero! For years  he has been planning to attempt to perform the world’s first head transplant. The procedure that Dr. Canavero suggest is quite interesting.  I think the best way to understand it, plus more, would be from Dr. Matthew Crocker, consultant neurosurgeon at St George’s Hospital, London. (check the video below)

If you don’t want to watch the video for particular reasons or if it doesn’t work, I will also write below the procedure.

Dr. Canavero will begin his attempt by cooling the volunteer’s body to 50 degrees fahrenheit and severing both his head and the brain dead donor’s head from their respective bodies and spinal cords. Polyethylene glycol will be used to connect the volunteer’s head with the spinal cord of the donor’s body. The plan is to induce the volunteer into a coma for 3 weeks while blood and new nerve networks rebuild in hopes that the body doesn’t reject the head—an inherent type of risk in all transplant procedures. In addition to the spine, patient’s head will also have to be reconnected to airways, the esophagus and blood vessels.

But like in any discovery there are pros and cons. Some believes that it will work and that the volunteer for it will be able to walk, to run, in other words to have a normal life. But others think that Canavero is just a charlatan, he just wants publicity and he is a crazy man if he thinks the surgery will be a succeed.

 Probably one of the most appropriate response for the whole situation would be Michael Sarr’s response, he was a surgeon for 35 years. He said: “Granted, I’m retired,but what do you have when you die other than your reputation? I’m confident that at least in theory the operation will work. The science is there. I wouldn’t risk my reputation otherwise.” He continues: “Is Sergio Canavero a bit of a showboat? Yeah, he probably is. But you know, you might need a showboat. Somebody’s going to do this. And somebody has to do it first. And let me tell you, he’s taking a risk of his own. If this doesn’t work, he will be considered a charlatan for the rest of his life.”

In my opinion there are 50% chance for this surgery to be a success and 50% chance to not. Maybe, right now, we don’t know all the details behind it and probably we will never know everything. Why is Canavero so sure about it? Does he has a backup plan? What remains to be done? Well just to wait and see what’s going to happen in December. Will it be a success or a failure? Will this really happens or not?(comment below what do you think)

P.S. If I made you curious about the head transplant and you want to find more about it check it out Head Transplant 2017.

A journey in time -The history of medicine

In history of medicine  there isn’t one doctor/physician better than another. They are all equal because if one of them would not do a specific discovery the other one could not continue it and improve the discovery .We can learn a few things from each of them. Many of the ideas found throughout history have relevance today , for example the  discovery of Penicillin,  DNA ,  Insulin , X-ray , smallpox vaccine and so on.

As a future med student ,I think that studying the history of medicine is one of the first things that any med student should do.We need to know how medicine evolved if we want to understand it ; from the first discoveries (e.g. Sushruta,Galen) to the most recent ones (e.g. Watson and Crick).

Let’s imagine for a second that we are far away from all the technology ,all the vaccines  ,all the things that are related to medicine. We are at the beginning of a beautiful journey , a journey that saved a lot of people over the years. We are in a place where William Harvey is the first person who correctly described the blood circulation, where the smallpox vaccine is discovered , where the mystery of anatomy ,pathology,neurology, physiology and pharmacology are first discovered.

I would like to talk with you about some of my favorite persons in the history of medicine that inspire me everyday and give me the strength to go further in my journey.

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Hippocrates(480 BC) ,who doesn’t know him? The ancient Greek physician ,the father of medicine. Hippocrates was a member of the Asclepiad family, an aristocratic family highly regarded as medical practitioners, with a proud history of serving Greece. He was trained by his father to be a physician. He began work on Kos and married a noble woman whose name is unknown. They had two sons: Thessalus and Dracon, and a daughter, whose name is unknown as well.

Hippocrates wrote that : “Sickness is not sent by the gods or taken away by them. It has a natural basis.If we can find the cause ,we can find the cure.” One of my friends from Medefine, Bogdan, that helps me with my application for UK, told me some really interesting facts about Hippocrates (if you want to know more about Medefine you can find them on facebook  Medefine Education or on the site  Medefine ). Hippocrates had a passion for holistic medicine. He believed that a patient should be considered as a whole, with his head and body – considering the psychological, social, and biological aspects. This is known recently as the “BioPsychoSocial Model” .It suggest that instead of trying to cure the biological problem, you should also understand the social and psychological aspects that could underpin disease. He held the belief that thoughts, ideas, and feelings come from the brain and not the heart as others of him time believed.Also he was the first physician to accurately describe the symptoms of pneumonia, as well as epilepsy in children.

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Sushruta(1000 BC) ,the father of surgery or more like the father of plastic surgery.He was the first to perform cataract and plastic surgery like rhinoplasty that remains the highlight of Sushruta’s surgery. The process of rhinoplasty is described as follows:

The portion of the nose to be covered should be first measured with a leaf. Then a piece of skin of the required size should be dissected from the living skin of the cheek, and turned back to cover the nose, keeping a small pedicle attached to the cheek. The part of the nose to which the skin is to be attached should be made raw by cutting the nasal stump with a knife. The physician then should place the skin on the nose and stitch the two parts swiftly, keeping the skin properly elevated by inserting two tubes of eranda (the castor-oil plant) in the position of the nostrils, so that the new nose gets proper shape. The skin thus properly adjusted, it should then be sprinkled with a powder of licorice, red sandal-wood and barberry plant. Finally, it should be covered with cotton, and clean sesame oil should be constantly applied. When the skin has united and granulated, if the nose is too short or too long, the middle of the flap should be divided and an endeavor made to enlarge or shorten it

It has always been argued  the absence of powerful anaesthetics.How this Indian surgeon carried out such major operations?Sushruta suggest that strong alcohol should be used.

Wine should be used before operation to produce insensibility to pain.The patient who has been fed, does not faint, and he who is rendered intoxicated, does not feel the pain of the operation.

He wrote Sushruta-Samhita or “The Collection of Sushruta” .This is an Indian surgical repair textbook.It has 184 chapters, 1,120 conditions are listed including 51 eye conditions that can be treated surgically. The book also describes 101 blunt and 20 sharp surgical instruments, many of which are surprisingly similar to instruments used today.

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John Snow, no he is not the actor from Games of Thrones. He is the founder of Epidemiology. What is epidemiology? It is the study and analysis of the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations.

Back to our hero, Snow was a British physician that was born into a labourer’s family on 15 March 1813.

In 1854 , he identified the source of cholera outbreak.It all started when a major cholera outbreak struck London.The prevailing opinion was that cholera was spread either by miasmas or by person-to-person contact.He examined the neighbourhood, and talked to everyone he could. He was looking for an underlying theme that linked these people together. He suspected some contamination of the water, but couldn’t find any organic matter in it. After further investigations ,he provided more evidence for his theory that the pump was responsible for all of this.

Not only he was a epidemiologist but he was also a pioneer in the field of anaesthetics.The physician who first made anesthesia scientific by showing how the human body responded to different doses of anesthetic drugs, and how anesthesia affected the human physiology.

In retrospect, Snow made several important contributions to the development of epidemiologic thinking:

Now is time to come back to reality. I want to know your opinion about this journey in time. What did you find more interesting ? Would you like to be a med student in that time?(for me that’s will be an yes) Which of the three that I mentioned would you like to work with?Comment below.

My experience in the hospital

I was recently in one of the hospitals of my city to do some practice (of course I just watched the doctors, talked with patients and took some notes because I couldn’t touch anything).

It was an interesting experience , but I was a little disappointed about the way some nurses and doctors treated the patients, in special the poor patients.As a future doctor I think it is normal to do everything you could do to help the patient and it doesn’t matter if he/she is rich or poor, well there it wasn’t like that..Doctors (in special the residents) were walking around the hospital, without doing anything, while the poor patients needed their help because they didn’t feel good.I was the only one that asked the patients how they were feeling.One of them had a really bad headache , so I went to call a neurologist to consult him because everyone there ignored him. Why? He was poor that’s why.He had an aneurysm but fortunately it was discovered in time.I felt really good and I was proud of myself that I could help that person.

Another thing that I didn’t like was that even if you get the chance to be consulted,the doctors or nurses talk with you like you better go home and die there because they don’t care anyway. I understand that doctors and nurses are really stressed because it’s not easy to do what they are doing but let’s be serious , you chose this career , you wanted to help people and now you are treating them like sh*t ? Then why do you continue to be a doctor or nurse? Just for money? Well medicine is not about the money you take it’s about the things you do to help this world. In many hospitals is like God is playing poker with the Dead so if the patient is lucky enough he can live if no..he dies.

I really hope that the future doctors and nurses to be the way they should be ,to really care about this career and to treat patients the way they should be treated.

Well this is all for now ! Hope you enjoyed it 😁

Medicine World

Here are some photos about medicine(facts, motivational and funny photos).Hope you will enjoy it !😁

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I often hear people saying that medicine is easy..I’m really curious if they even know what medicine means

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An apple a day keeps the doctor away

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Let’s not forget about the stethoscope.

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That’s quite sad ,don’t you think so?😼

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You have to be strong!đŸ’ȘđŸ»

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I love it so much ,if i ever marry this will surely be on my wedding cake😂😂

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Medical family is in deep moments.đŸ˜±

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I honestly need this shirt 😂

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My life in just one picture 🙊

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Aaaaaand this is the last one.Hope you liked it 😚

Inoperable Brain Tumor

Hi guys,I’m gonna present you one of the worse and quite interesting(in my opinion) inoperable tumor that you may know or may not know about.Also I will try to select for you the important things from this tumor so you will can understand it better.Enjoy the blog 🙂

       Inoperable Brain Tumor

Brain tumors in general can’t be categorized as operable or inoperable. They can be any type or size where the only difference that can affect and categorize the tumor is the location . If it’s entangled with blood vessels or any critical brain area it has to be seriously considered if the pacient’s life is at risk.
Surgeons will be the ones to consider what part of the tumor to remove and if it can be removed in the first place. It has to be examined so they can have a conclusion if it can remove the entire tumor or just a part of it. Removing just a part of it is indeed not a permanent solution though and since there’s a remaining part around there, the tissues that remain after the surgery can multiply which is why it’s recommended to remove the entire tumor as long as it’s safe and won’t have any problems in the future.

I recommend to the patient to visit more that just one surgeon before accepting that the tumor is inoperable because sometimes a tumor that one surgeon believe is inoperable may seem treatable to another.Good surgeons make the difference.

A good example is Laura Fischer-Beards, who was diagnosed with inoperable brain tumor.Doctors gave her just months to live but she didn’t give up.She went to US and there made a procedure called “awake craniotomy with mapping” . It was successful and removed 100% of the tumor , now Laura can live a normal life near her family.So never give up ,keep fighting.

AWAKE CRANIOTOMY PROCEDURE

In this procedure ,the patient is sedated while the surgeon opens the skull to expose the brain.The patient is then brought out of sedation to full consciousness(it means that the patient is awake and you can talk with him/her normally ,the neurosurgeon will put the patient to ask some question and to perform some simple tasks to make sure that the functions remain intact).During the surgery, the neurosurgeon performs cortical mapping(it is an invasive procedure in which electrical stimulation is applied briefly to the cortical surface for the purpose of identifying areas critical for sensory, motor or language function) ,also the patient will feel no pain.