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Understand Cancer

Understand Cancer

In honor of World Cancer Day, we shared information to help you better understand cancer all week.

Cancer causes 22% of deaths in the U.S., second only to heart disease, and you have an over 30% chance of being diagnosed with cancer in your lifetime.

Your Risk of Cancer

 

Cancer can start almost anywhere in your body and is when your cells fail to grow properly. When abnormal or damaged cells survive and continue to grow, they can become tumors.

How Cancer Cells Grow

 

Malignant tumors are masses of abnormal tissue that can spread into other healthy tissues around it. As they grow, they can also break apart and travel through your body, spreading the cancer further.

How Cancer Spreads

 

Cancer is genetic, so you can inherit genetic changes that cause cancer. They also can be a result of damage to DNA from being exposed to environmental issues, like tobacco or ultraviolet rays from the sun.

Genetic Risks for Cancer

 

There are over 100 types of cancer, and they’re usually named for the tissue they’re in or by the type of cell that they’re made of. Breast, colorectal, and lung cancers are currently the most common.

Early treatment can reduce your risk of death from cancer, and screenings, like exams, lab tests, imaging procedures, and genetic tests, can help you catch it before you display symptoms.

Screenings to Catch Cancer Early

 

Common cancer treatments include surgery to remove tumors, radiation and chemotherapy to kill cancerous cells, and immunotherapy that helps your immune system fight back. Learn more about other types of treatment.

How Cancer Is Treated

Types of Providers

Types of Providers

If you have complicated health issues or your doctor has called another doctor an industry term you’ve never heard before, you may be left wondering what all these health care names really mean. We can help you make sense of the different types of providers.

Your Doctors

Primary Care Provider (PCP)

A primary care provider, or PCP, is your main doctor. It’s who you visit for routine checkups, preventive care, and general health problems. Each person in your family can have a PCP, or you can all see the same one.

If you’re on an HMO or POS plan, you have to choose an in-network PCP who will oversee your care and refer you to specialists. If you’re on a PPO plan, you don’t have to choose a PCP to get referrals, but you can to get personalized care and savings.

And if you’re a woman, you can set a doctor as your PCP or choose another in-network doctor, like an OB-GYN, to oversee free preventive care, your yearly well-woman visit, or a pregnancy.

Setting and changing your PCP is easy. Just log in to Your Health Alliance to update your PCP.

Specialist

A specialist is a doctor who provides health care services for a specific disease or part of the body, like dermatologists, who focus on skin care.

Usually, you’ll be referred to a specialist when your personal doctor wants you to check on specific issues or problems. You’ll also be sent to a specialist when you’re diagnosed with something serious, like a heart condition or cancer, or if you find out you’re pregnant. 

Surgeon 

A surgeon is a doctor who is qualified to perform surgery, and they have their own specialties. If you have a heart attack and need surgery, your surgeon will be an expert in heart surgery.

If you’re sent to the ER because of an emergency or diagnosed with a condition or disease, you might be sent into surgery. But if you need a minor procedure, like having your wisdom teeth out, you’re seeing a surgeon too. 

Hospitalist

A hospitalist is a dedicated, in-patient doctor who works only in a hospital or network of hospitals. If you’re taken to the hospital in an emergency or accident, you might be treated by a hospitalist.

Help with Your Care

Care Coordinator

Care coordinators help you figure out your health care in lots of ways, especially after a hospital stay, diagnosis, or if you have a chronic or complex condition.

They can help provide you with resources, educational materials, and self-care techniques, help you understand your doctor’s instructions, connect you to resources in your community, and help you plan for the future.

Health Coach

Health coaches can help you or your family plan for better health. Our health coaches can help you get the best care possible from your healthcare team and get the most from your coverage.

They’ll partner with you to help in areas like nutrition, weight and stress management, and preventive screenings and immunizations.

Nurse Navigators

You might get help handling your care from a nurse navigator when you’re discharged from the hospital if you get a serious diagnosis. For example, a cardiac nurse navigator will help patients with a primary diagnosis of heart failure or myocardial infarction.

They will usually start the process by visiting you before you leave the hospital, then they’ll stay in-touch to walk you through the first 30 days after discharge. 

Nurse navigators can help you organize your appointments, connect you to education on your diagnosis, medications, exercise, diet, therapies, and when to call the doctor. And they might host support groups that can help people like you.

Other Kinds of Care

Home Health Care

Home health care is medical care, treatment, or skilled care you can get in your home. You doctor might recommend this in situations where care in your own home will be easier for your case and condition.

Skilled Nursing Facility

You doctor might order medical care that must be given or supervised by a licensed health care professional in a skilled nursing facility. This type of care could include:

  • X-rays and other radiology services
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapy
  • Storage and administration of blood
  • Use of appliances, like wheelchairs
  • Meals, including special diets
  • A semiprivate room or private room if medically necessary

Hospice Care

Hospice care is special care for people who are terminally ill, including medical and physical care and help with social, emotional, and spiritual needs. It also provides support for family and caregivers.

Other Help

Pharmacist

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who practice pharmacy, which focuses on safe and effective medication use. You might not think about your pharmacist’s skillset when you pick up your drugs at the pharmacy, but they’re trained to know how drugs work.

They know which drugs can interact to protect you from dangerous drug combinations, they can explain the side effects of your drug to you, and they make sure you’re getting the right dosage of your drugs on the right schedule.

Social Worker

Social workers are there to help you with social problems that can affect your quality of life and health care. They can help you and connect you to resources for domestic violence, sexual assault, abuse and neglect, housing and food insecurity, home-delivered meals, substance abuse, mental health issues, advance directives, and more.

Other Providers

Medical Director

A medical director is a leader who recruits and manages doctors, nurses, and other personnel. They also examine and coordinate processes within their organizations to improve and guarantee the medical quality of the facility. 

 

If you need to find covered providers, use our Find a Doctor or Hospital tool to search for covered doctors, hospitals, and more.

Safe Travel Each Step of the Way

Safe Travel

Summer travel season is upon us, and preparing for safe travel is important, especially if you have an illness.

First, learn about your destination to check for any local health notices or immunizations you might need first.

Safety Wherever You Go

 

Think about your health before you book. From illness and surgery recovery to pregnancy, check if you’re safe to fly.

Fly Smart

 

See a doctor before you take off to make sure you’re up-to-date on key shots or healthy enough for planned activities.

Vaccines for Travel

 

Pack carefully to protect yourself, especially if you need medicines or care while you’re traveling.

Pack for Your Health

 

Be prepared for the signs and what to do if you know you’re at higher risk of health issues while traveling.

Healthy and Prepared on Vacation

 

Make sure your family or friends (and government entities depending on where you’re traveling) know your travel plan.

Share Your Travel Plan

 

Know you’re covered with a copayment or coinsurance for ER and urgent care if you get sick while traveling.

And check out Assist America, which helps connect you to services when you get sick while traveling.

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Fibroid Awareness Week

Fibroid Awareness Week

It’s Fibroid Awareness Week. Fibroids are muscular tumors, usually benign, that grow in the wall of the uterus for women.

Fibroids can be as small as an apple seed or as big as a grapefruit. 20% to 80% of women develop them by age 50.

Fibroid Size and Frequency

 

Not all women with fibroids have symptoms, but those who do can have pain, pressure on the bladder, frequent urination, or even a swollen abdomen.

Fibroid Symptoms

 

Risk factors for fibroids include age, family history, ethnic origin, obesity, and eating habits, like eating too much red meat. Eating plenty of green veggies is associated with a lower risk of fibroids.

Risk Factors for Fibroids

 

If you get pregnant and have fibroids, you might have more problems during your pregnancy. OB-GYNs are used to this situation, though, so talk to your doctor about your fibroids when you find out you’re pregnant.

Pregnant with Fibroids

 

Your doctor can diagnose you with fibroids through an exam or imaging tests like ultrasounds, X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans.

Diagnosing Fibroids

 

There are treatments for fibroids, including meds and surgery, if you have pain, they’re large, or you want to get pregnant.

Fibroids and Your Future

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Testicular Cancer Awareness Month

Testicular Cancer Awareness Month

It’s Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, which is the leading cancer in men ages 15 to 44.

Raising Cancer Awareness

 

1 out of 270 men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer. It can develop fast and double in size in just 10 to 30 days.

When detected early, it has a survival rate of over 95%. Regular self-exams are the best way to find it early.

Self-Exams to Prevent Testicular Cancer

 

Testicular cancer can elevate your hormones, causing tenderness in your chest. Learn other signs.

Chest Soreness and Other Symptoms

 

Back pain and significant weight loss are some of the signs and symptoms of advanced testicular cancer. See your doctor quickly.

Symptoms of Advanced Testicular Cancer

 

If you’re diagnosed with testicular cancer, there are questions you should ask to find out what comes next.

The Right Questions to Ask Your Doctor

 

Treatment for testicular cancer is much like other cancers. It can include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Testicular Cancer and Treatment

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Protecting Your Pets for Christmas

Holiday Pet Safety

You may not have realized that the holidays can be a dangerous time for your furry friends, but these holiday pet safety tips can help.

Make sure your Christmas tree is anchored so it can’t tip and fall when your pets jostle it.

Christmas tree water may contain fertilizers and is a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause upset stomachs in pets.

Christmas Trees and Your Pets

 

Avoid mistletoe and holly. Holly causes nausea in pets, and mistletoe upsets their stomachs and can cause heart problems.

Avoiding Poisonous Christmas Plants

 

Kitties love sparkly tinsel, but when they nibble on it, it can cause blocked digestive tracts, which can lead to expensive surgery.

Protecting Playful Kitties

 

Keep wires and glass and plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach to avoid electric shocks and cuts to feet and mouths.

Curious Kittens and Ornaments

 

Make sure batteries aren’t left in pets’ reach. They can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus when punctured.

Toy Safety Around Pets

 

As you count down to the new year, avoid confetti strings, which can get stuck in pets’ intestines, and noise poppers and fireworks around timid pets.

Fighting Pet Fear

Glaucoma Awareness Month

Glaucoma Awareness Month

This month is Glaucoma Awareness Month, which is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the U.S.

Glaucoma Awareness

 

Glaucoma affects more than 3 million in the U.S., and the National Eye Institute expects that to increase by 58% by 2030.

Glaucoma typically has no symptoms, and once your sight is gone, it’s permanent.

No Getting Vision Back

 

As much as 40% of your vision can be lost without you noticing as your optic nerve is damaged.

Loss of Sight

 

There is no cure for glaucoma, but medication or surgery can slow or stop vision loss.

Stop Vision Loss

 

Those over 60, of African, Asian, or Hispanic descent, diabetics, and the severely nearsighted are at risk for glaucoma.

Those At Glaucoma Risk

 

Early detection through regular eye exams is key to protecting your sight from glaucoma.

Glaucoma Detection

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