West Hills Hospital & Medical Center
West Hills Hospital & Medical Center is your community resource for better health. We have the capability and expertise to perform emergency open heart procedures, perform brain and spine surgery.

Knowing when to schedule important women's health screenings

Preventive health screenings are an essential part of an overall wellness plan for women. Although your personal health history will dictate when and how often you need certain screening tests, there are some general guidelines to help you understand what kind of schedule you should follow. Here is a look at some screenings that most women can benefit from having and the recommended timeline for having them. Be sure to consult with your own women’s health specialist to make the right decisions for your needs.

Mammograms are X-ray screenings of your breast tissue. They are performed to look for abnormal changes that could indicate the presence of cancerous or precancerous cells. Mammograms, along with clinical breast exams, play a central role in preventive care for breast cancer.

Most women should begin having mammograms between ages 40 and 50 every one to two years. However, if you have a personal or family history of breast cancer or other risk factors, your physician may recommend that you begin your screenings earlier or that you have them more often.

Pap tests and HPV screenings
These tests are usually done in conjunction with each other during well woman gynecological exams. Pap tests look for signs of cervical cancer, while HPV screenings are used to help women understand their risk of cervical cancer.

These tests should usually begin by age 21. Between the ages of 21 and 29, women should have a Pap test every three years. Between 30 and 65, women should have a Pap and HPV test every five years or a Pap test only every three years. More frequent testing is usually not recommended for women unless they have an elevated risk of cervical cancer.

A colonoscopy is performed to spot signs of colorectal cancers. During a colonoscopy, polyps that are in the colon may also be removed so that they do not become cancerous.

Women usually start having colonoscopies at age 50. The time between tests depends on your family history. You may also need earlier screening of colorectal cancer runs in your family.

As explained in the video, scheduling an appointment for women’s health services in West Hills is easy. Call West Hills Hospital and Medical Center today at (818) 676-4321 to get a referral to the right specialist for your needs.

Keeping your knee joints healthy

Knee pain is an extremely common complaint that causes people to miss days of work and to miss out on their favorite activities. If you’re experiencing knee pain caused by joint damage, an orthopedic surgeon can help you find relief through joint replacement surgery. However, there are also things you can do to protect your joints before this kind of damage occurs. These strategies can reduce joint pain and damage so that you can continue to do the things you love without knee pain.

Maintain a healthy weight
Excess weight can put an enormous strain on your knees. Gaining as little as five or ten pounds can put pressure on your joints that causes pain and eventually leads to damage. In fact, excessive weight is one of the leading causes of osteoarthritis.

Fortunately, even a modest weight loss can make a big difference for your joints. Every pound you lose takes pressure of your joints, which can ease discomfort and protect them from damage.

Play it safe on the stairs
Most people have a habit of bounding up and down the stairs. For your knees, this habits means hundreds of pounds of extra pressure with each step, which can lead to serious joint damage.

Pay attention to the activities you do that could put excessive pressure on your joints, such as running up the stairs, and make adjustments to protect your knees. This includes sticking to walking on pavement, rather than grass. Grassy walkways put pressure on your joints.

Exercise with your knees in mind
When you work out, do activities that strengthen the muscles that support your knee joints. For instance, building up your hip abductor muscles on your inner thighs will help to support your knees when you walk.

Take care to also do activities that are low-stress for your knee joints, such as gentle yoga, swimming, and floor exercises.

The Total Joint Care Program at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center can have you back on your feet in no time when joint pain is holding you back. Are you struggling with painful joints in West Hills? Call (818) 676-4321 to request a referral to an orthopedic specialist.

Is robotic thyroid surgery the right choice for you?

If you have been referred for thyroid surgery, you may be concerned about the invasiveness of the procedure and the potential scar the surgery could leave on your neck. Robotic surgery could be an option that addresses some of these concerns. Although this approach to thyroid surgery is not right for every patient, it does have some advantages. How do you know if robotic thyroid surgery is right for you? Here is a look at some of the factors that could make you a good candidate.

You don’t have scar tissue from a previous surgery.
During robotic thyroid surgery, it is essential for your surgeon to be able to reach your thyroid gland without any obstructions. If you have had previous surgeries on your neck or shoulders, you could have scar tissue that could impede your surgeon’s ability to manipulate the robotic tools.

Keep in mind that excess weight can also cause the same issues. Your surgeon must determine whether you have fat tissue that could prevent easy access to your thyroid gland.

Your thyroid meets size and health requirements.
Robotic thyroid surgery is only recommended for tumors that are no larger than three centimeters in size. Additionally, your thyroid itself must not exceed six centimeters for robotic surgery to be an option.

Certain health conditions can also make robotic surgery inappropriate. If you have thyroid cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes, substernal disease, or Graves’ disease, your surgeon is unlikely to recommend a robotic procedure.

You are concerned about scarring.
Non-robotic thyroid surgery usually requires making an incision in the neck, which leaves behind a linear scar. Patients who are concerned about the cosmetic appearance of this scar may favor robotic surgery.

Because the cost of robotic thyroid surgery is more than other options, patients often have to balance the price of the procedure with their concerns about visible scarring.

West Hills Hospital and Medical Center offers multiple robotic surgeries for patients who want a minimally invasive procedure with a faster recovery time. If you need surgical services in West Hills, choose our highly trained team of specialists for your care. For a referral to our surgical team, please dial (818) 676-4321.

How to get more exercise with your kids and grandkids

Getting active with your kids and grandkids is good for the whole family. It helps you protect your heart and orthopedic health, and it helps them get into the habit of incorporating exercise into their day. If you haven’t been as active as you’d like lately, here are some tips for getting back to your exercise regime by joining in with your kids and grandkids.

Put it on the schedule
If you haven’t been as active as you’d like lately, here are some tips for getting back to your exercise regime by joining in with your kids and grandkids. Busy days can make it difficult to find the time to exercise. If you put it on your schedule, you’re much more likely to actually get in the activity you want. Carve out a time each day to exercise with them.

You may decide to set aside 30 minutes per day for a family walk after dinner or designate an hour to go to the park to play basketball a few days per week. When everyone in the family saves this time to be active together, you’ll find it easy to make space in your schedule for exercise.

Get medical care if you need it
It’s always a good idea to check in with your physician before you start a new exercise plan, but if you have a specific medical issue that has been keeping you from exercising, take the first step towards relief by addressing it with your doctor.

For example, if you have knee pain or hip pain, an orthopedist can diagnose the cause and create a treatment plan that works. He or she may recommend certain activities that will ease your pain as well as things you should avoid that could exacerbate your symptoms.

Make it fun
The best thing about exercising with your kids and/or grandkids is that you can make it fun. Forget tedious activities like walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike at the gym. Get your kids involved in activities that the whole family will enjoy, such as:

  • Taking a bike ride
  • Going on a hike
  • Playing kickball
  • Dancing
At West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, our orthopedic and spine specialists can help you life live pain-free as you enjoy your favorite activities. If chronic pain has kept you on the sidelines, call our hospital in West Hills at (818) 676-4321 for a referral to an orthopedic or spine specialist who can help you get back in the game with your kids or grandkids.

Should you worry if you're called back to discuss screening results?

When you’ve had a cancer screening test, getting a call to come back in to discuss your results can be unnerving. However, the most important thing you can do if you receive such a call is to follow up as soon as you can. Being called to discuss your screening results doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer, but if you need cancer care, the earlier you can start, the better the results will be.

Why do I need to discuss my results in person?
Often, if your physician calls you in to discuss your screening results, it means that you may need further testing. In some cases, part of a screening test, such as dark area on a mammogram, may need to be examined a little more closely.

The need for a closer look doesn’t mean that there is any abnormality to be concerned about, but rather that your physician needs more information. In some cases, your screening test may simply need to be repeated because the results are unclear. Something as simple as a blurry image could cause the need to discuss your test results.

How likely is it that an abnormal screening test means cancer?
The answer to this question varies from hospital to hospital and varies based on the test and the type of cancer. For example, at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, as discussed in the video, the statistics for our mammograms are as follows:

  • About 7% of women are called back to discuss their results and to have further testing each year

  • About 1-2% of those women end up requiring a biopsy

  • Less than 1% of these women have cancerous changes in their breast tissue

What should I do if I receive a call to discuss my results?
Schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Addressing the issues sooner rather than later will put your mind at ease. Your physician will explain in full what steps you need to take, up to and including cancer care, when necessary, and he or she can also recommend steps to take if you’re experiencing stress and anxiety.

The cancer care team at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center is committed to supporting patients throughout the process of facing cancer, from diagnosis through treatment and to recovery. To get more information about cancer care in West Hills or to ask for a specialist referral, please dial (818) 676-4321.

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