Who Gets Oral Cancer? Symptoms and Risk Factors

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 1:43 PM comments (0)

oral cancerOral cancers, which include cancers of the lips, cheeks, tongue, hard and soft palates, sinuses and throat, or pharynx (also known as oropharyngeal cancer), often appear first as growths or sores in the mouth that do not go away. In addition to these lumps, bumps and sores of the mouth, potential symptoms include:

  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  • Numbness/increased tenderness anywhere on the face, mouth or neck
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Feeling of something caught in the throat
  • Hoarse voice or a change in your voice
  • Any difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw/tongue

As with any cancer, early detection and treatment is paramount. Your dentist can conduct oral cancer screenings during your regular dental exam. NorthShore University HealthSystem is also offering a free oral cancer screening on Sunday, April 27th from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the John and Carol Walter Ambulatory Care Center at Glenbrook Hospital. Scroll through and register for an available time here

Though everyone should be examined for oral cancer, Nicholas Campbell, MD, Medical Oncology, shares some of the risk factors that can increase your chances of developing the disease:

Smoking. Lung cancer isn’t the only cancer smokers need to worry about. Smokers of cigarettes, cigars and pipes are far more likely to develop oral cancer than those who have never smoked. 

Use of smokeless tobaccos. Smokeless tobacco is also hazardous to your health. The use of chewing tobacco and snuff greatly increases a user’s risk of developing cancer of the lips, gums and cheek. 

Consumption of alcohol. The excessive consumption of alcohol has been linked with an increased risk of oral cancers.

Family history. A history of cancer in the family increases one’s risk of developing many types of cancer, including oral and oropharyngeal.

Sun exposure. Multiple severe childhood sunburns not only increase one’s risk for certain types of skin cancer but can increase one’s risk for cancer of the lips as well. 

Men over the age of 50. Studies by the American Cancer Society say that men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer in their lifetime. Men over age 50 are at the greatest risk for the disease. 

HPV exposure.  A particular virus, the human papillomavirus (HPV), is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States.  This virus also increases risk for oropharyngeal cancers.


Put Your Best Face Forward: Skin Care and More

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 9:44 AM comments (0)

The natural aging process, sun exposure and the everyday wear and tear of the elements can take a toll on the look and feel of your skin. Achieving and maintaining truly healthy skin requires more than just an occasional wash with soap and water. That's why it's important to protect and nourish your skin with a thorough daily skin care regimen.

In our latest  infographic, we share some simple ways for men and women to protect their skin, from sun up to sun down. Click on the image below to view the full infographic of healthy skin care tips from the experts at NorthShore University HealthSystem.
Skin care infographic 


Psoriasis: Do You Know Your Triggers?

Friday, April 18, 2014 12:56 PM comments (0)

psoriasisPsoriasis, which can first show symptoms between the ages of 15 and 25, often has a severe impact on an individual’s physical health as well as their confidence. A chronic condition, psoriasis occurs when new skin cells replace the old too quickly, creating areas of skin with thick, scaly red patches of various sizes. In some cases, the skin condition also creates swelling and pain in the joints, called psoriatic arthritis. Approximately 7.5 million Americans or 2.2 percent of the population suffers from psoriasis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.

Fortunately, there are treatments available for psoriasis that can reduce the severity of the symptoms. For example, your dermatologist may prescribe medicated skin products, UV treatments, or other systemic  medications  to reduce symptom severity, although it may take time to determine which course of treatment will yield the best results. 

For most, symptoms often become worse following certain triggers. Therefore one of the best steps you can take in controlling your psoriasis is to identify and avoid those triggers that can cause flare-ups. Stephanie Mehlis, MD, Dermatologist at NorthShore, highlights some common psoriasis symptom triggers:

  • Infection
  • Scratching the skin
  • Medication
  • Smoking
  • Stress/anxiety
  • Sunburn

How do you cope with symptoms of psoriasis? What triggers your symptoms?


Finding Her Voice: Bonnie Lee Fusfeld on Her Daughter's Journey from Silence Back to Laughter

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 4:23 PM comments (0)

Hannah Fusfeld

On April 14, 2013, Hannah Fusfeld lost her voice, and within a couple of hours she was visibly ill. It was the first day of what would become nearly four months of missed school days, ice-skating practices and time away from and inability to communicate with her friends, family and community. Hannah’s illness made it impossible for her to communicate even her most basic needs. She was eventually diagnosed with combination of mononucleosis, or mono, and whooping cough. 

Hannah and her family saw three different doctors before deciding they needed to look for help outside Green Bay. After nearly four months with no voice at all, Hannah and her parents found the NorthShore Voice Center. Aaron Friedman, MD, Otolaryngology, and Christine Buth Martin, Speech Therapist, helped give her back her voice in one three-hour session. 

Hannah’s mom, Bonnie Lee Fusfeld, shares the experiences of the entire family, the downs and eventual ups, in their NorthShore Patient Story:

As a parent, when your child is ill, there is a vise that grips your heart. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, the constriction of fear is present every second of every day.  The constant unanswered questions like, “What are we missing?” and “What hasn’t been found yet?” are isolating.  

After four months of what seemed like constant questions, it felt like a gift to sit in Dr. Friedman’s office and have him research Hannah’s history, assess, accurately diagnose and then, not only provide treatment, but actually show us what was happening. Dr. Friedman scoped Hannah with a type of scope that had not been used on her before. He videotaped what was happening in the musculature of Hannah’s vocal cords; he taught us about our daughter’s health problem.  

The word “healer” gets bandied around a lot these days and means many things to many people. To me a healer is someone who opens the door for change to occur, someone who creates hope. Dr. Friedman did this the first time he sat down with us. Christine took that opened door and pushed it wide open. Christine not only treated Hannah with vocal massage and literally unthawed her vocal cords, but she helped us, as a family, unthaw as well. Fear, worry, hope, joy and laughter all came into that room and Christine facilitated that without being intrusive. She was only kind, compassionate and extremely skilled.

This experience has been a tremendous gift to our family, a gift that quite literally saved us. We had the understanding of friends, business associates and Hannah’s educational community and her KICKS Synchronized Skating family but it was still extremely hard.

Our family still has some hurdles to overcome. It’s been a year since the onset of Hannah’s illness and she’s doing great. She’s 17 now and back in school full time. She’s looking for colleges and works as a coach at the skating rink and as a receptionist at our local chiropractor’s office. And, she is skating again. Hannah is active and busy but she still has challenges, like making sure to watch her fatigue level, but she is learning. We are learning too. We are learning how to guide a 17-year-old young woman, who is heading into adulthood, on how to make good health decisions for herself. Hannah knows even though she is recovering, she is still building her strength. For example, a two-day flu for most would take Hannah down for a week—she has to learn to manage that. And sometimes she just doesn’t have the strength to do it all, but the amazing thing is that she keeps trying, she keeps going. That is what I respect most about my daughter: no matter what knocks her down, she just picks herself back up and moves forward.

Thank you to the Cornerstone Community Center for graciously donating ice time during the filming of our NorthShore Patient Story. 


Parkinson's Disease Research at NorthShore Strives to Lead to Better Patient Outcomes

Friday, April 11, 2014 1:11 PM comments (0)


As part of National Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, Demetrius Maraganore, MD, Chairman of Neurology at NorthShore, shared some of the findings of his ongoing research into the genetic factors that influence Parkinson’s disease progression and outcomes. He also tells us why research like this is so important for Parkinson’s disease patients and their families: 

Why is funding for and research into Parkinson’s disease so important? 
It’s important because the treatments that we have available don’t prevent Parkinson’s disease (PD) or slow or halt its progression.  PD is characterized by progressive motor and cognitive impairment.  PD patients have a seven-fold increased risk of nursing home placement and a two-fold increased risk of death.  The annual cost of PD in the U.S. exceeds $23 billion. Presently 2% of people will develop PD during their lifetime, and the prevalence of PD is expected to double by 2030. The cumulative burden of PD to society is and will be staggering.  Our patients and their families deserve methods to predict, prevent and halt PD and those will only come through research.

How long have you been conducting research into Parkinson’s disease?  
My research in Parkinson’s disease (PD) started in 1989, when I was an honorary clinical and research fellow to the late Professor C. David Marsden at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, England.  Dr. Marsden was the founder of the international Movement Disorders Society and its official journal, Movement Disorders.  His associate, Professor Anita Harding, was a pioneer in the field of neurogenetics.  Together, we launched the first genetic studies of Parkinson’s disease.  

That has remained the focus of my research, including for 20 years on the faculty of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and in the four years that I have been Chairman of Neurology at NorthShore. While my research at Mayo focused on identifying genetic factors that contribute to the cause of PD, my research at NorthShore has focused on understanding how those genetic factors influence disease progression and outcomes.  Our research aims to develop methods to predict outcomes in PD, and to use that information to improve neurological health.

Why have you focused the bulk of your career on the study and treatment of Parkinson’s?  
As a clinician, it’s very gratifying that there are many treatments that we can employ in the first many years to reduce the burden of the disease on patients and families.  However, I recognize that the benefits of the existing treatments wane with time, and I’m driven by the sense of urgency to identify the factors that contribute to the progression of Parkinson's disease. Our goal is to target those factors so that every individual patient can have the best possible outcome. 

For more information on the NorthShore Neurological Institute and the research being done at NorthShore, click here. 


Fresh Recipe: Healthy Spring Rolls Three Ways

Monday, April 07, 2014 8:00 AM comments (0)

Spring rollsFresh spring rolls are a quick way to boost your intake of nutrient-dense foods. Simply purchase the pre-made rice papers (spring roll wrappers), fill with your favorite vegetables, roll, and enjoy.  You can add lean protein like shrimp, chicken breast or tofu to make spring rolls a more filling snack or a meal.  Low sodium soy sauce is a perfect accompaniment to these healthy treats. 

Katrina Herrejon, Certified Diabetes Educator at NorthShore, shares her recipe for healthy spring rolls three ways:

Spicy: Serrano pepper, radish, lettuce and green onion
American: Avocado, carrots, zucchini, red pepper and basil
Shrimp: Shrimp, cucumber, bean sprouts and cilantro 

Reasons to Love Spring Rolls:


  1. Portable. Sometimes there is just no time for a knife and fork.  Springs rolls are a great way to take your vegetables on the go. And, they can be eaten with one hand.
  2. Raw. Uncooked vegetables are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals.  They are also particularly filling, which helps to make these low-calorie wraps satisfying.
  3. Quick. You don’t need to perfectly julienne your vegetables to make a delicious spring roll.  Just finely chop whatever vegetables you have on hand and roll it up!  


Nutrition Information Spicy: 

Calories 48
Total Fat 1g
Total Carbohydrate 9g
Fiber 1g
Protein 1g

Nutrition Information American:
Calories 62
Total Fat 3g
Total Carbohydrate 10g
Fiber 2g
Protein 1g

Nutrition Information Shrimp:
Calories 59
Total Fat 1.5 g
Total Carbohydrate 9g
Fiber 1g
Protein 3.5g

*Nutrition information may vary based on brand of spring roll wrapper used. 


Survive the Season: How to Combat Seasonal Allergies in Your Home [Infographic]

Wednesday, April 02, 2014 6:35 AM comments (0)

April showers bring May flowers, and May flowers just might bring seasonal allergies. Don’t suffer the sniffles, sneezes, and itchy, watery eyes of seasonal allergies without fighting back. Our springtime infographic highlights some allergy basics and provides tips to help you combat seasonal allergy symptoms in your home. 

Click on our infographic for more information and useful tips.


Reduce the Pain, Choose the Right Medication

Tuesday, April 01, 2014 8:00 AM comments (0)

aspirinIt can be challenging to choose the right over-the-counter pain medication. While the choices are many, it’s very important to make a decision based on your symptoms and other medical issues. Not all pain relievers are created equal, and knowing the difference between various types can be very helpful.

Before taking any medication, you should consult with your physician and/or pharmacist. Additionally, you should carefully read labels for warnings and other information. This is especially true for combination products used for treating pain and other conditions, such as colds, allergies, arthritis and muscle aches.

Acetaminophen and Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are the most commonly used over-the-counter pain medications. The main difference between the two is that NSAIDs help reduce pain, fever and inflammation. Acetaminophen only reduces pain and fever.

George Carro, Pharmacist at NorthShore Evanston Hospital, helps clarify the differences between these common over-the-counter pain relievers to help you make a better, more-informed decision:

Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) tends to be milder on the stomach. Keep in mind that acetaminophen will not help with inflammation. Acetaminophen is an active ingredient in many other medications, including cold and flu preparations. Be sure to read all labels carefully so you do not exceed the recommended maximum daily dose of acetaminophen.
Safe for Children? Acetaminophen is generally considered safe for use in children. Always be sure to confirm proper usage and dosing information with your pediatrician.
Side Effects? Liver toxicity, including liver damage and failure, can be associated with improper use of this drug.  Alcohol consumption in combination with acetaminophen use may increase this risk.

NSAIDs—Aspirin (Bayer®), Ibuprofen (Advil ®or Motrin®), Naproxen (Aleve®) and others—can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Safe for Children? As with any drug for children, it is recommended to discuss proper usage and dosing information with your pediatrician. Please consider the following for use in children:

  • Aspirin should not be used in children under the age of 16 years. It has been associated with Reyes’s syndrome, a potentially fatal disease in children.
  • Ibuprofen is not recommended for use in children under the age of 6 months.
  • Naproxen is not recommended for use in children under the age of 12 years.

Side Effects? The most common side effects include stomach and kidney problems. It is recommended to take all NSAIDs with food to help minimize stomach irritation. If you have heart conditions, stomach ulcers or blood disorders, please consult with your physician before taking these medications.

No drug—prescription or over-the-counter—is without risks. Always consult with your physician if you have any questions or concerns about your medications. Our NorthShore pharmacists can also answer questions and help you make informed, over-the-counter pain reliever selections.


Honor Your Doctor on Doctors’ Day

Sunday, March 30, 2014 9:00 AM comments (0)

Dr. TalamontiNational Doctors’ Day was established to honor physicians and the profound impact their work has on patients and the larger community. There are too many doctors at NorthShore worthy of recognition to honor each individually, so we extend our thanks and congratulations to each and every one for their individual achievements and the excellent care they always strive to provide.

We regularly hear from grateful patients, like Paul Upchurch, who want to find a way to honor their doctors. Paul developed a pancreatic tumor that required a highly complex surgery. After meeting with several doctors, he eventually found his way to Mark Talamonti, MD, Surgical Oncologist at NorthShore.

Today, Paul is doing well. This year, he honored Dr. Talamonti and the exceptional care he received with a donation to support the groundbreaking research being done at NorthShore. He shared his NorthShore patient story with us:

“Nearly two years ago, I discovered that I had a tumor on my pancreas that required a highly complex surgery and long recovery period. I knew I needed to get better to be able to take care of my family. I met with several doctors, but I knew Dr. Talamonti would be my surgeon during our very first meeting."

“Dr. Talamonti’s approach was to treat me as a whole person, not just a disease. Through his research, he was able to develop an individualized treatment plan based on my health history and the makeup of my tumor. The surgery was every bit as tough as Dr. Talamonti had said it would be. But my story ended happily. Today, I feel better than ever. I’m extremely grateful to Dr. Talamonti for his work and research in individualized medicine. I thank him for saving my life. I look forward to celebrating Dr. Talamonti for many Doctors’ Days to come.”

It’s patients like Paul who make the work of healers such as Dr. Talamonti possible. If you would like to make a gift of your own on Doctors' Day please click here. Your gift can support research or programs in a clinical area of your choice. If you have a NorthShore patient story to tell, email philanthropy@northshore.org.


Colon Cancer: Reducing Your Risk

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 12:46 PM comments (0)

Reducing riskThere are many risk factors for colon cancer that are beyond your control—being over the age of 50, family history of colorectal cancer, personal history of polyps, inflammatory intestinal conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. There are, however, risk factors you can mitigate by making some simple and some not-so-simple changes to your lifestyle. 

Susannah Spiess, MD, Gastroenterologist at NorthShore, encourages everyone to make these healthy lifestyle changes to help lower the risk for colon cancer: 

Eat a high-fiber, low-fat diet. Studies have shown that diets high in fat and lower in fiber may increase your risk for developing colon cancer. These same studies also indicate an increased risk for those who consume large quantities of red meat regularly. Shift the focus of your diet away from meat, particularly red meat, and give fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains top billing on your plate.

Get up and move. This doesn’t just mean 30 minutes of exercise a day. Get up and move throughout the day. An inactive, sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of developing colon cancer. If you spend most of your day sitting behind a desk, stand up and move every 20 minutes or whenever possible. 

Lose weight. Changing your diet and increasing your activity level will work wonders on your waistline as well. Obesity significantly increases one’s risk for not only developing colon cancer but also dying from the disease if diagnosed.

Break the habit. It’s a terribly unhealthy habit. Smoking increases your risk for a number of serious health issues, from lung cancer and heart disease to stroke and, you guessed it, colon cancer. The time to break the habit is now.

Cut back. The excessive consumption of alcohol raises your risk for several types of cancers, including cancer of the colon and rectum. Monitor your daily and weekly consumption of alcohol and ensure that it is no more than 14 units of alcohol per week and no more than three in any single day. 

Get a colonoscopy. While adopting these lifestyle changes could reduce one’s risk for colon cancer, screening colonoscopy is the only proven method of preventing the disease.

Have you made an appointment to get your first colonoscopy? Find out more here

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