• Busting Myths About Mammography

    Many people are aware that mammograms are an essential health screening for women. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of misconceptions about mammography and its role in facilitating early cancer care. You can always turn to your physician for accurate, credible information about breast cancer screenings and cancer care. Your physician can let you know when it’s a good idea to start scheduling routine screening mammograms at West Hills Hospital.

    Myth: All Women Should be Screened at Age 50

    There are several guidelines for screening mammograms. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women begin having mammograms at age 50, whereas other guidelines recommend screening starting at age 40. However, some women are at a higher risk of requiring cancer care for breast cancer and may be advised to begin having screenings at a younger age. In short, women can consult their primary care physicians regarding their risk factors and when they should begin having mammograms.

    Myth: Mammograms Are Always Painful

    Some women delay having mammograms because of the misconception that they always hurt. Mammograms do require slight compression of the breast and this may cause some temporary discomfort. However, the compression shouldn’t hurt. Radiologists often advise women to schedule mammograms for a time of month during which their breasts are typically less sensitive.

    Myth: Mammograms Aren’t Necessary if I’m Not at Risk of Cancer

    It is possible for anyone to develop breast cancer—even men. Many women feel that if they lack a family history of breast cancer, they can delay having mammograms or avoid them altogether. Although a family history of the disease is indeed a risk factor, the majority of women who develop breast cancer do not have a close relative with the disease.

    If you have any concerns about your upcoming mammography appointment, the highly trained clinical radiologists at the Women’s Diagnostic Center of West Hills Hospital are here to help. In the event that your mammography and subsequent tests do reveal breast cancer, you can receive a full range of cancer care services at our community hospital in West Hills. To speak with a registered nurse about our cancer care, call (818) 676-4321.

  • What Are Some of the Most Common Risk Factors for Cancer?

    Through lifestyle choices and medical management of health issues, it is possible for an individual to reduce his or her risk of developing cancer. Certain risk factors, such as tobacco use and obesity, are modifiable. Others, such as age and family history, are not. However, it’s important to keep in mind that having multiple risk factors for cancer does not automatically guarantee that a person will develop it, just as having few risk factors does not guarantee that cancer will not develop. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, the multidisciplinary cancer care team at West Hills Hospital is here to help.

    Age

    According to the National Cancer Institute , 66 years is the median age for cancer diagnoses. Although cancer can develop at any age, certain types of cancer may be more likely to affect individuals of specific age groups. For example, individuals under 20 years of age are the most likely to require cancer care for bone cancer. Children and adolescents are more likely to develop neuroblastoma than adults. Conversely, more than half of all cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed among men over the age of 65. Nearly all cases of prostate cancer affect men 50 years of age and older.

    Tobacco

    Tobacco use is a major risk factor for both cancer development and cancer death. The chemicals in cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco damage the DNA in a person’s cells. This leaves the individual susceptible to cancerous changes. No level of tobacco exposure is safe. This applies to secondhand smoke and thirdhand smoke, the latter of which refers to residual chemicals on surfaces.

    Obesity

    Maintaining a healthy weight can protect individuals from a range of chronic diseases. Being obese may increase the risk of certain cancers, including breast, colorectal, endometrial, esophageal, and pancreatic cancer.

    The compassionate cancer care team at West Hills Hospital utilizes state-of-the-art medical technology and an innovative approach to treatment to support our patients and their families. Our hospital is proud to offer exceptional medical services right in the West Hills community, which provides a convenient option for our neighbors who are undergoing radiation, surgical, or medical oncology. If you would like general information about our cancer care program, call our hospital at (818) 676-4321 and speak with a registered nurse.

  • Elderly Safety Spotlight: Tips for Avoiding Falls

    Millions of seniors are rushed to emergency care departments each year because of serious injuries sustained in falls. Older adults are at a heightened risk of falling because of health issues such as poor vision, dizziness, and poor balance. They may also be more likely to sustain serious injuries in a fall that require emergency care . These are due to their increased risk of osteoporosis. However, falls aren’t inevitable as someone grows older. There are steps you or your loved one can take to reduce the risk of a fall. You might consider talking to a doctor at West Hills Hospital about staying safe at home.

    Physical Activity

    Leading an active lifestyle is important for seniors. Physical activity improves muscle tone, flexibility, and balance. However, it’s important to exercise safely under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Seniors might consider working with a physical therapist at their community hospital. Some community centers and gyms offer fitness groups modified for the needs and fitness levels of seniors.

    Home Modification

    Some simple changes to the home can help seniors stay safe. Family members can remove throw rugs and clutter, and rearrange furniture if necessary to reduce the risk of tripping . All carpets should be securely fastened to the floor. Other steps to take include the following:

    • Adequate lighting indoors and outdoors
    • Nightlights in hallways and bathrooms
    • Non-skid strips on walkways and stairs
    • Grab bars in the tub and by the toilet
    • Non-skid mats in the tub
    • Handrails along all stairs

    Medical Management

    Certain medications may increase the risk of a fall, such as by causing dizziness. Seniors may wish to talk to their doctors about the side effects of any medications they’re taking. In some cases, an alternative drug may be available. It’s also advisable to schedule an eye exam each year.

    Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and a specialized arthritis program to promote functional mobility are just a few of the services you’ll find at the Center for Fitness & Rehabilitation at West Hills Hospital . In the event that you or a loved one does suffer a fall, our community hospital also serves West Hills residents with high-quality emergency care on a 24/7 basis. If you require emergency care, please call 911; otherwise, you can contact our Consult-A-Nurse line at (818) 676-4321.

  • Ensuring You Get the Care You Need in a Medical Emergency

    In the event of a medical emergency, it’s essential that you seek qualified care immediately. If you are in need of emergency care, the skilled staff at West Hills Hospital can provide you with the help you need. The best way to ensure that you are prepared for a crisis is to review what steps you should take when an emergency happens.

    Determine how urgent the situation is. There are four factors that you can use to identify a medical emergency: the presence of a potentially life-threatening condition, the appearance that the condition is getting worse, how difficult it will be for you to get the person to a medical facility, and the need for the person to be treated by medical professionals. If any or all of these factors are present, you may consider it a medical emergency.

    Call for assistance. Calling 911 is the most important step in responding to an emergency. When speaking to the dispatcher on the phone, be sure to speak clearly. You will need to state who you are and where you are located, give the number of the phone from which you are calling, and explain the emergency. Stay on the phone until you are instructed to hang up, as the dispatcher may give you instructions to follow.

    Be prepared. Everybody should be prepared for the possibility of a medical crisis. Do not move the person unless they are in immediate danger of additional injury. If the person has been wounded and is bleeding, try to elevate the wound, apply pressure, and cover the area with a bandage or clean cloth. Learning CPR, keeping first aid kits on hand, and keeping emergency numbers posted at your home or workplace are all important for preparing for emergencies. If you, a family member, or another loved one has a medical condition that could lead to a crisis, keep the necessary medical information where it will be readily accessible.

    If you are experiencing a true medical emergency, call 911 for immediate assistance. At West Hills Hospital, our emergency services include an approved Stroke Center, an accredited Chest Pain Center , and the latest medical care technology. To learn more about our medical services, call us today at (818) 676-4321.

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