It’s One of the Rarest Forms of Cancer, but Could You be at Risk of Sarcoma?

Cancer, and all of the fears and worries it carries, comes in many forms, sarcoma being one of the most dangerous, albeit one of the rarest, accounting for only one percent of all adult cancer cases. Sarcoma is a type of cancer that forms in the bones or soft tissues. It can develop in the muscles, fat cells, or nerves, meaning that it can occur in any part of the body. Doctors identify around 17,000 new sarcoma diagnoses each year. So what are the risk factors for this dangerous condition, and are there steps you can take to minimize your chances of a diagnosis during your lifetime? Read on to find out.

Who is at Risk for Sarcoma?

While sarcoma is rare in adults, it represents around 15 percent of all childhood cancer cases. Researchers have identified a few factors that could increase one’s risk of a sarcoma diagnosis, which are:

  • Cancer radiation treatment, which accounts for less than five percent of sarcoma cases, and often does not develop until about ten years after an affected area was treated with radiation
  • A damaged lymph system, possibly as the result of radiation therapy, can cause swelling (lymphedema) that in rare cases, in turn, can cause lymphangiosarcoma, a tumor in the lymph vessels
  • Chemical exposure, particularly vinyl chloride (a chemical used in making plastics), arsenic, dioxin, and herbicides containing high doses of phenoxyacetic acid
  • Some family cancer syndromes that are caused by gene mutations, including:
    • Gardner syndrome, a disease that can cause colon and intestinal polyps
    • Neurofibromatosis (von Recklinghausen disease), a condition that can cause benign tumors in nerves under the skin and other body parts
    • Retinoblastoma, a type of childhood eye cancer
    • Werner syndrome, which creates health complications in children typically only experienced by seniors, such as cataracts, arteriosclerosis, and skin changes
    • Li-Fraumeni syndrome, which leaves its patients sensitive to the cancer-causing effects of radiation
    • Tuberous sclerosis, which can cause seizures and learning problems in addition to increasing one’s risk of sarcoma
    • Gorlin syndrome (nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome [NBCCS]), which increases one’s risk of developing basal cell skin cancers, fibrosarcoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma

What are the Symptoms of Sarcoma?

Symptoms of sarcoma vary, depending on where it develops, but may include:

  • A lump that can be felt through the skin, which may or may not be painful
  • Bone pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • An unexpected broken bone, seemingly without a serious injury
  • Weight loss

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, particularly if you know you have any of the risk factors above, such as the noted genetic conditions, talk to your doctor. They can conduct the necessary testing and screening procedures to determine the cause of your discomfort. As with all cancers, early detection is critical for effective treatment, so never hesitate to talk to your doctor if you have any health concerns.

Four Ways to Protect Your Eyes During Healthy Vision Month

Most of us cannot conceive of a life without appreciating the beauty in every blade of grass or every child’s smile. However, around 12 million Americans 40 years and over have vision impairment, including one million who are blind. This July, we recognize Healthy Vision Month. It is a time to understand better the risks associated with vision loss, the ways that we can support the vision impaired, and recommit to making healthy lifestyle choices to protect our eye health. This summer, when the sun is at its highest and strongest peak of the year, spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the risk factors that can put your healthy vision at risk. Then, pledge to yourself to prioritize your long-term eye health this month and always.

1. Commit to an Annual Eye Exam

You prioritize seeing your physician annually for a wellness exam and routine screening (or you should; if you don’t already have a primary care physician, find one here). However, you should also make an annual visit to your eye doctor another healthcare priority. Your doctor can screen for eye disease and other risk factors that could impair your vision long-term during your eye exam.

2. Encourage Your Family and Friends to Obtain an Annual Eye Exam Too

Not only is Healthy Vision Month a time to prioritize your eye health, but it is also a time to strengthen your advocacy for the eye health of those you love and care for. Encourage your parents, friends, and other family members to obtain an annual eye exam. If you are a parent, talk to your pediatrician about a recommended cadence for eye exams for your child. Typically, however, children should have their first eye exam at six months, then at age three, and then again before they begin first grade.

3. Give Your Eyes a Rest from Digital Devices

The blue lights that your smartphone, laptop, and tablet emit can cause eye strain, especially for individuals (including teenagers) who work at a computer or spend significant time each day on their smartphones. To minimize your exposure to blue light and your risk of eye strain, follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from your computer at a point about 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Pair this with a stand, water, or meditation break for double the wellness.

4. Wear Sunglasses with UV Protection

Wearing sunglasses every season when you are outdoors during the day is a critical step to protecting your eyes. Ensure your sunglasses are designed to protect you from both UV-A and UV-B rays. Sunglasses do not need to be expensive, prescription, or designer to include UV protection, but you want to ensure you choose a pair with this feature for optimal impact.

Commit to Recognizing Healthy Vision Month Every Month

Think of Healthy Vision Month as a time to recommit to eye health best practices, but don’t let up the rest of the year. The long-term effects of sun exposure, eye strain, and neglecting regular eye screenings can be detrimental to your long-term eye health. With a few proactive but consistent lifestyle changes, you’ll be enjoying the beauty of nature’s details and your loved ones’ smiles all the days of your long, healthy life.

Diagnosed with Pre-Diabetes? Nine Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk Factors

Here in the United States, 34.2 million Americans—just over one in 10—have diabetes, and another 88 million—approximately one in three—have prediabetes. These staggering numbers remind us that diabetes is a prevalent health crisis in our country and often preventable with proper awareness, education, and lifestyle choices. However, if your doctor has recently diagnosed you as pre-diabetic, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a future as a person with diabetes is imminent. The following nine health choices will mitigate your risk of developing diabetes and the health complications it can carry.

1. Eat Healthily

A critical change that you can make to lower your risk of diabetes is to make healthier eating choices. A five to ten percent weight reduction can significantly lower your risk of developing diabetes. Swap processed carbs for whole grains and starches, such as potatoes, white bread, and sugary breakfast cereals.

2. Get Active

Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity per day, five days per week. Such activity can further help you manage your weight and can strengthen your heart and lungs. Talk to your doctor before you begin any new fitness routine or exercise program.

3. Manage Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

High blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels are risk factors for several health risks, including heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. A healthy diet paired with an active lifestyle can help. So can your doctor.

4. If You Smoke, Quit

Smoking can increase your risk of diabetes. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor, or visit smokefree.gov to access education, programs, and resources.

July is UV Safety Awareness Month, So Grab Your Favorite Sunglasses

Nothing says summer like basking in the sun—but this quintessential seasonal activity could be putting your eyes at risk. The sun brings outdoor fun but also damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. To help educate adults and teens about the risks of UV rays, each July we recognize UV Safety Awareness Month. At Nova Health, we want to ensure that you enjoy the dog days of summer without  long-term vision and eye health complications. Read on to learn why UV rays are dangerous and what simple—and still stylish—steps you can take to keep your eyes safe this summer.

What are UV Rays?

UV radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation created by the sun. There are two types of UV rays:

  • UVA – has a longer wavelength, and can age the skin
  • UVB – has a shorter wavelength and can burn the skin

Why are UV Rays Harmful?

Unprotected exposure to UVA and UVB radiation damages the DNA in skin cells. The damage can cause genetic mutations or defects and cause premature aging, skin cancer including eyelid cancer, and cataracts. In addition, long-term, exposure to UV rays can increase your risk of macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease and the leading cause of vision loss that affects more than 10 million Americans. Other eye health issues that long-term UV radiation can cause include pinguecula and pterygia, or tissue elevations on the eye’s surface.

If you ‘re seeking the perfect summertime tan, beware: You may also be exposed to UV rays from that year-round suntan source the tanning bed.

How to Protect Your Eyes from UV Radiation

The most important and easiest thing that you can do to protect your eyes from UV rays is to wear quality sunglasses designed with UV ray protection. That  simple easy step is crucial to your eye health. In addition, follow these summertime tips:

  • Avoid going outside during the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. standard time, which are the most hazardous for UV radiation
  • Ensure any pair of UV blocking sunglasses you select indicate that they protect the wearer from both UVA and UVB rays (health tip: sunglasses do not have to be designer, prescription, or high cost to protect you from UV rays)
  • Choose sunglasses with maximum coverage, ideally the kind that wrap around to your temples (even if you are wearing contacts that protect against UV rays)
  • Wear a hat with a brim (in addition to sunglasses) to shield more UV rays from your face
  • Wear sunglasses even on a cloudy day; invisible UV rays permeate thin clouds and haze
  • Wear sunglasses all year long; even when skiing in the winter, as the sun produces UV rays in every season, not just summer
  • Never look directly at the sun; if you are observing a solar eclipse, use specially designed gear to enjoy the spectacle, or else you could put yourself at risk of solar retinopathy, or damage to your retina

This summer, get outside and get active, but do so safely. Avoid peak sun exposure times, always wear sunglasses and a hat, and while we’re on the subject, coverup with full spectrum sunscreen too. We all love the long days of summer, but we love our eye health more. Stay safe this summer, and if you need us, find a Nova Health location near you

Nova Health Welcomes Stephen G. Garratt, FNP-C to Practice, Will Treat Patients at Junction City Clinic

Eugene, OR – July 7, 2021 – Nova Health, a provider of high-quality, convenient primary and urgent care services in the Western United States, has announced the addition of Stephen G. Garratt, BSN, MSN, FNP-C, to its team of healthcare providers. Garratt will begin treating patients at Nova Health’s Junction City clinic, located at 355 West 3rd Avenue, Junction City OR 97448, starting on August 9th, 2021.

Garratt joins Nova Health from Golden Valley Health Center in California, where he treated patients as a family nurse practitioner. A graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz, he obtained his EMT certification shortly after finishing his undergraduate studies. He then went on to work in a hospital setting for several years while simultaneously continuing his education in the legal profession at the University of San Diego. Garratt worked in the legal field as a medical-legal researcher and paralegal for several years before completing a post-graduate certificate program at the University of California at Berkeley, focusing on cellular/molecular biology and biochemistry. Garratt next studied nursing at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing in 2014 and a Master of Science Degree in Nursing in 2016.

Nova Health Chief Executive Officer Jim Ashby said that Garratt’s medical and legal studies background makes him a valuable asset to Nova Health.

“What is so inspiriting about Stephen is how, throughout his life, he has never stopped learning and never stopped applying his skills in new ways and in new areas that need a compassionate, educated, and dedicated healthcare expert,” said Ashby. “We are thrilled to have Stephen join our Nova Health team.”

“Nova Health is the ideal next step in my medical career,” said Garratt. “My past experiences providing nursing care to rural, underserved communities has strengthened my passion for working for an entity that shares my dedication to these populations. I value the commitment that Nova Health has made to providing care in rural communities across the Western United States, and I am thrilled to start the next phase of my career as a member of the Nova Health care team.”

About Nova Health

Nova Health provides urgent care, primary care, physical therapy services, and musculoskeletal clinic services. Our focus is on providing the best patient care to patients in our communities. Established in 2008 with one clinic and nine employees, we have grown to 25 clinics in Oregon, Washington, and Montana.