The Truth About Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the country. About 6 million Americans get diagnosed every year. It’s also one of the easiest to prevent. To help you and your family stay safe, here’s the facts behind the most common skin myths.

Myth: All sunscreen is pretty much the same, and using high SPF (over 30) makes no difference.

Truth: SPF 30 blocks about 97 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks about 98 percent. So anything with SPF 30 or higher is fine. What’s more important is using it properly by applying a liberal amount to all exposed areas of skin and reapplying at least every couple of hours.

Myth: People don’t need to worry about sun protection on overcast days or while driving.

Truth: It’s especially important to wear sun protection on cloudy days because you may get burned without noticing it. The same is true in the car because the side windows don’t block UVA rays (the front windshield does). While driving, wear sunscreen on your arms and face so you don’t get skin damage over time without realizing it.

Myth: Tanning beds offer a safe alternative to sunbathing.

Truth: Tanning beds are not safe. If you’re getting tan, you’re doing damage regardless of the light source. Artificial tanning products like sprays and lotions do provide safe tanning alternatives, but they don’t offer any protection from sun exposure.

Myth: Skin cancer affects only older people, so kids and teenagers don’t have to worry about sun protection.

Truth: Skin cancer results—in part—from cumulative sun exposure throughout your life. On average, people get 80 percent of their lifetime sun exposure during their youth, so it’s especially important for young people to use sun protection to reduce their risk later in life.

Myth: Skin cancer is easily removed and not a big deal.

Truth: The most common skin cancers are basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, which spread only locally. These can be removed without lasting risk, but removal may cause disfigurement depending on the size and location of the cancer. Melanoma, on the other hand, is aggressive, deadly and very hard to remove or treat once it metastasizes.

From the desk of Harry Dorset, MD, General Hospital chief medical officer.

How to Manage Your Diabetes: A Check List

Diabetes is growing at an epidemic rate in the U.S.A. According to the CDC, 30.3 million Americans are living with diabetes, while another 84.1 million have prediabetes, which usually leads to diabetes within five years.

There are many steps diabetics can take to manage the disease. For instance, coming up with a yearly checklist of tests and questions to go over with a doctor helps ensure any problems are found and treated early. If you have diabetes, you should ask your doctor about the following steps:

✓ A cholesterol test. With diabetes, you have a greater chance of getting heart
disease. Knowing and controlling your levels of “bad” cholesterol can help prevent heart disease.

✓ A complete foot exam. Annual foot exams help doctors check for neuropathy
(nerve damage), something about half of all diabetics have.

✓ A dental exam. Those with diabetes have greater risk of developing gum disease, tooth decay and other problems related to oral health. Tell dental professionals that you have diabetes, so they know what to look for.

✓ A dilated eye exam. An eye care specialist will temporarily enlarge your pupils to see more easily inside your eye. Because diabetes is the leading cause of preventable new-onset blindness in adults, getting this exam yearly is important.

✓ Urine and blood tests. Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure; make sure to get annual blood and urine tests to confirm your kidneys are in a good state of health.

Consult with your doctor about any other tests or exams he or she believes you should undergo, and keep track of what you have done each year.

To find out more about diabetes and diabetes management, click here.

From ADHD to Zika: Health News You Can Use

Get helpful info on topics from A to Z to boost your awareness and wellness.


Parents may be all too familiar with easily distracted children, but how do you know whether your little one’s daydreaming and misbehavior are normal youthful antics or signs of a bigger problem?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders in children and can seriously impact both home and school life.

• Signs and symptoms: A 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 10 school-aged children in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD by a healthcare provider (that’s 6.4 million kids). Parents who notice an uptick in behaviors such as constant motion and fidgeting, interrupting, and difficulty sitting should consult their primary care provider.

• Co-existing conditions: Many behavioral, mood and learning issues overlap symptoms with ADHD and can often go along with the disorder. One of the most common coexisting conditions is oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Nearly 40 percent of ADHD sufferers have ODD; symptoms include extreme anger and argumentativeness, refusal to follow rules, and vindictiveness.
Co-occurring mood disorders such as depression or mania affect nearly 40 percent of adults with ADHD; children also experience mood disorders and have shown elevated rates of depression as well.
Learning disorders such as dyslexia are a bigger problem for young people, affecting up to 50 percent of children with ADHD. Other issues such as substance abuse, anxiety and sleep problems also have high rates of incidence.

• Treatment options: Treatment can be very effective and varies by age; management with behavioral therapy and medication is most common.

Alcohol Abuse
Identifying patients with alcohol dependence is important to General Hospital and our medical groups. Recognizing patients with alcohol dependence early on and referring them promptly to behavioral health services is a key to the most effective treatment. To ensure members get the help they need, General Hospital and our medical groups are focusing on identifying, referring and following up to confirm alcohol dependence services are received.

According to a 2013 report, asthma results in an estimated 11.8 million days of work/activities missed per year among adults and 1.2 days of school/day care missed per year among children.
General Hospital offers disease management programs to members living with certain chronic conditions at no additional cost. Learn more about General Hospital’s programs here.

With the Centers for Disease Control reporting more than 4,300 Zika cases in the United States, and Congress allocating $1.1 billion to fight the spread and effects of the virus, there is no denying we are dealing with a national public health emergency.

• Cause and effect: Zika is primarily spread through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito—it can be sexually transmitted as well. It poses the biggest threat to pregnant women, who can pass Zika to the fetus, potentially causing a birth defect known as microcephaly, which greatly reduces the size of the infant’s head. Other ramifications of Zika infection during pregnancy include birth defects affecting the child’s brain, vision and joints, as well as impaired movement.

• Symptoms: Zika’s primary symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, muscle pain and headache, although many infected people won’t present with any symptoms at all.

• Prevention: While scientists are currently working on a vaccine for Zika, the best defense against the virus is prevention of mosquito bites. The CDC recommends pregnant women (and those trying to conceive) avoid travel to areas with reported cases of mosquito-borne Zika.

The CDC advises men who have visited areas with active Zika transmission to refrain from unprotected sex for at least six months after travel; the guideline for women is eight weeks, although the World Health Organization recommends both men and women wait a full six months.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Resource Center on ADHD, World Health Organization