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Friday, May 18, 2012

Georgia woman learns toll of flesh-eating bacteria

ATLANTA (AP) — Faced with the prospect of losing both hands and her one remaining foot, a young Georgia woman battling to survive a case of flesh-eating bacteria that has already claimed one leg mouthed the words "Let's do this."

Aimee Copeland, 24, "shed no tears, she never batted an eyelash," her father, Andy Copeland, wrote on Facebook on Friday about the conversation he and his wife had with their daughter the day before.

"I was crying because I am a proud father of an incredibly courageous young lady," Copeland wrote.

It was not immediately clear whether the surgeries had already been performed and a post to a blog about the woman's progress Friday evening simply said "Aimee is doing well today. Her vital signs are as positive as her spirit."

A hospital spokeswoman referred questions to the father's online post.

The story of Copeland's battle to survive has inspired an outpouring of support from around the world. The University of West Georgia student developed a rare condition called necrotizing fasciitis after suffering a deep cut in her leg in a May 1 fall from a homemade zip line over the Little Tallapoosa River.


She has been hospitalized in critical condition at an Augusta hospital, battling kidney failure and other organ damage. She had been on a breathing tube until recently, when doctors performed a tracheotomy, her father said.

Until Thursday, Aimee Copeland did not know the full extent of her condition, only that her hands were badly infected.

Andy Copeland said he told his daughter about what had happened since the accident, how her one leg had been amputated. Doctors had once characterized her survival as "slim to none."

"We told her of the outpouring of love from across the world," her father said. "We told her that the world loved and admired her. We explained that she had become a symbol of hope, love and faith. Aimee's eyes widened and her jaw dropped. She was amazed."

In Copeland's case, the necrotizing fasciitis was caused by bacteria known as Aeromonas hydrophila (what is Aeromonas hydrophila) , which is found in warm rivers and streams. Many people exposed to the bacteria don't get sick. Only a handful of necrotizing fasciitis infections caused by the bacteria have been reported in medical journals in recent decades.


Under the condition, the bacteria emit toxins that destroy muscle, fat and skin tissue.
Andy Copeland said he learned Thursday that doctors wanted to amputate his daughter's hands and remaining foot. Doctors were concerned she could develop respiratory problems and if her hands released an infection in her body there was a risk she could become septic again, her father said.

"We had a window of opportunity to perform the amputations and have a successful outcome," he said. "As they usually do, the doctors were presenting us with a medical no-brainer. We had to do what is necessary to save Aimee's life."

At that point, the family decided to share the situation with their daughter.
Copeland said he showed his daughter her hands, told her they were not healthy and were hampering her progress.

"Aimee, I do not want anything to happen to you," Copeland said he told his daughter. "Your mind is beautiful, your heart is good and your spirit is strong. These hands can prevent your recovery from moving forward. The doctors want to amputate them and your foot today to assure your best possible chance of survival."

Aimee Copeland nodded her understanding.

Her father explained that she would eventually be fitted with prosthetics to help her get around and she nodded again.

Then she smiled, raised her hands up and looked at the damage. She then turned to her family, gathered by her bedside and mouthed the words: "Let's do this."

Her father said he left the room with tears in his eyes.
"I wasn't crying because Aimee was going to lose her hands and foot, I was crying because, in all my 53 years of existence, I have never seen such a strong display of courage," Copeland said. YahooNews

Friday, May 4, 2012

Breast Cancer In Men - Rare But Fare Worse

Statistics Men Died Because of Breast Cancer
CHICAGO (AP) — Men rarely get breast cancer, but those who do often don't survive as long as women, largely because they don't even realize they can get it and are slow to recognize the warning signs, researchers say. (What is men breast cancer ?)

On average, women with breast cancer lived two years longer than men in the biggest study yet of the disease in males.

The study found that men's breast tumors were larger at diagnosis, more advanced and more likely to have spread to other parts of the body. Men were also diagnosed later in life; in the study, they were 63 on average, versus 59 for women. (See risk factor)

Many men have no idea that they can get breast cancer, and some doctors are in the dark, too, dismissing symptoms that would be an automatic red flag in women, said study leader Dr. Jon Greif, a breast cancer surgeon in Oakland, Calif. (See more symptoms)

The American Cancer Society estimates 1 in 1,000 men will get breast cancer, versus 1 in 8 women. By comparison, 1 in 6 men will get prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men.
"It's not really been on the radar screen to think about breast cancer in men," said Dr. David Winchester, a breast cancer surgeon in NorthShore University HealthSystem in suburban Chicago who was not involved in the study. Winchester treats only a few men with breast cancer each year, compared with at least 100 women.

The researchers analyzed 10 years of national data on breast cancer cases, from 1998 to 2007. A total of 13,457 male patients diagnosed during those years were included, versus 1.4 million women. The database contains about 75 percent of all U.S. breast cancer cases.

The men who were studied lived an average of about eight years after being diagnosed, compared with more than 10 years for women. The study doesn't indicate whether patients died of breast cancer or something else.

Greif prepared a summary of his study for presentation Friday at a meeting of American Society of Breast Surgeons in Phoenix.

Dr. Akkamma Ravi, a breast cancer specialist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, said the research bolsters results in smaller studies and may help raise awareness. Because the disease is so rare in men, research is pretty scant, and doctors are left to treat it the same way they manage the disease in women, she said.

Some doctors said one finding in the study suggests men's breast tumors might be biologically different from women's: Men with early-stage disease had worse survival rates than women with early-stage cancer. But men's older age at diagnosis also might explain that result, Greif said.
The causes of breast cancer in men are not well-studied, but some of the same things that increase women's chances for developing it also affect men, including older age, cancer-linked gene mutations, a family history of the disease, and heavy drinking.

There are no formal guidelines for detecting breast cancer in men. The American Cancer Society says routine, across-the-board screening of men is unlikely to be beneficial because the disease is so rare.

For men at high risk because of a strong family history or genetic mutations, mammograms and breast exams may be helpful, but men should discuss this with their doctors, the group says.

Men's breast cancer usually shows up as a lump under or near a nipple. Nipple discharge and breasts that are misshapen or don't match are also possible signs that should be checked out.
Tom More, 67, of Custer, Wash., was showering when he felt a pea-size lump last year near his right nipple. Because a golfing buddy had breast cancer, More didn't put off seeing his doctor. The doctor told More that he was his first male breast cancer patient.

Robert Kaitz, a computer business owner in Severna Park, Md., thought the small growth under his left nipple was just a harmless cyst, like ones that had been removed from his back. By the time he had it checked out in 2006, almost two years later, the lump had started to hurt.

The diagnosis was a shock.

"I had no idea in the world that men could even get breast cancer," Kaitz said. He had a mastectomy, and 25 nearby lymph nodes were removed, some with cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation followed.

Tests showed Kaitz, 52, had a BRCA genetic mutation that has been linked to breast and ovarian cancer in women. He may have gotten the mutation from his mother, who is also a breast cancer survivor. It has also been linked to prostate cancer, which Kaitz was treated for in 2009.

A powerboater and motorcycle buff, Kaitz jokes about being a man with a woman's disease but said he is not embarrassed and doesn't mind showing his breast surgery scar.
                                                                                                                                                                    The one thing he couldn't tolerate was tamoxifen, a hormone treatment commonly used to help prevent breast cancer from returning in women. It can cause menopausal symptoms, so he stopped taking it. (Statistics on Male Breast Cancer 1 & 2)

"It killed me. I tell you what — night sweats, hot flashes, mood swings, depression. I'd be sitting in front of the TV watching a drama and the tears wouldn't stop pouring," he said.

Doctors sometimes prescribe antidepressants or other medication to control those symptoms.
Now Kaitz gets mammograms every year. Men need to know that "we're not immune," he said. "We have the same plumbing." Source 
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