July 18, 2017

Skin Cancer Affects One in Five Americans

Did you know that one in five Americans will have skin cancer during the course of a lifetime?

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells, due to mutations or genetic defects that can cause the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. Most often, the DNA damage that occurs is caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunshine or tanning beds, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

“The biggest risk factor is increasing sun exposure,” said Dr. Scott Goble, Radiation Oncologist at CHI St. Joseph Health Cancer Center. “The best thing to do for prevention is to reduce sun exposure.”

Sun Safetytanning bed

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. But, you can take the following steps to protect you and your family:

“Use sun-protective clothing, including wide-brimmed hats, as well as sun screen to reduce your exposure,” said Dr. Goble.

When possible, you can protect yourself with long-sleeved shirts and long pants, as well as clothes made from tightly-woven fabric. A wet t-shirt offers much less UV protection than a dry one, according to the CDC, and darker colors can offer more protection than lighter colors.

Sunglasses – ones that block both UVA and UVB rays – are also important, especially wrap-around sunglasses that block rays from sneaking in from the side. Most sunglasses sold in the United States meet this standard.

When wearing sunscreen, it’s critical to reapply regularly, according to Cancer Research UK, since some products rub, wash or sweat off more easily than others.

Who’s at Risk?

All patients with exposure to the sun can be at risk for skin cancer, but the risk is even greater for fair-skinned patients, as well as individuals with immune disorders, such as immune suppression for transplant and chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, said Dr. Goble.

Lymphocytic Leukemia is a type of cancer that begins in the bone marrow and moves into the blood.

There are other risks, according to Dr. Goble, but they are much less common, including exposure to certain chemicals and hereditary disorders.


Symptoms of skin cancer include a grown of a lesion on the skin, scaly areas that won’t heal, irregular borders, changing colors or lesions that are black in appearance, according to Dr. Goble.

People who have many moles or abnormal moles – which look irregular and are generally larger than normal moles – can be at greater risk for skin cancer. If you have a history of abnormal moles, it’s important to watch them regularly for changes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Precancerous skin lesions indicative of skin cancer are most common on the face, head and hands of fair-skinned people whose skin has been sun damaged.


The good news is that skin cancer patients in the Brazos Valley have access to the latest techniques and therapies through local dermatologists, the CHI St. Joseph Health Cancer Center and our network of family physicians.

Options for treatment can include anything from surgical excision and Mohs surgery, a micrographic surgery that helps patients spare the greatest amount of healthy tissue while completely expunging cancer cells.

The Cancer Center also offers radiation treatment and, in rare cases, chemotherapy.

“For Melanoma [a cancer that begins in cells that produce the pigment that colors the skin, hair and eyes], there have been many recent advances with targeted chemotherapy and immunotherapy agents,” said Dr. Goble.

For more information about skin cancer and treatment options, visit our Cancer Center online or call us today at 979-774-0808.








July 10, 2017

A Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating

When you’ve set a goal to have healthier eating habits, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Here, Hannah Houghton, a health educator for HMR Weight Management, shares her best tips for taking control of your health.

Record Keeping

Record keeping is a vital part of any healthy eating plan. Studies show record keepers, who document what they eat and drink each day, have significantly more success losing and maintaining their weight.

Record keeping is also reinforcing. When you had a successful week with weight loss, you can glance back at the work you did that week and continue to use those choices to keep you on the right path.

Finally, record keeping makes you accountable. Seeing what you are eating can help you be accountable to yourself and assist you in making the changes necessary. For increased accountability, show your records to someone else. Meet with a friend once a week and share your food diaries, or even utilize an app like MyFitnessPal.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

We advise our patients to consume 35 servings of fruits and vegetables per week or five servings a day. Fruits and vegetables provide vital vitamins and minerals, and when you’re consuming more fruits and vegetables, you are less likely to fill up on high fat and high calorie foods.

This makes it easier to lose weight and maintain that healthy weight, according to recent studies. Prepare your fruits and vegetables in a way that is low in sodium, and reduce the amount of fat in your recipes by steaming, grilling or roasting them instead of frying them.

Category Shifts

In the HMR program, we help patients lose weight by encouraging them to choose foods that are low in calories but also high in volume. We call this a category shift.

This strategy helps you eat more and feel satisfied while consuming fewer calories overall. We encourage our patients to continue this behavior when they are maintaining their weight.

Physical Activity

Physical activity is a strong predictor of weight loss and maintenance. When you are exercising and taking care of your body, you will be more likely to make healthier food choices, reduce your risk of heart disease and even sleep better. The goal is two and a half hours of moderate intensity physical activity per week. This breaks down to about a 20-minute-walk every day.

Environmental Control

In our culture, food is everywhere. It has high calories, comes in large portions and is very enticing. Our brains are hard wired to crave high-calorie foods, so it’s no wonder we seek them out. Remove tempting foods from your house, out of your desk and out of your car to ensure your success choosing healthier foods.

Environmental control doesn’t just apply to food. Set your tennis shoes out every night, so you take a walk every morning, take the stairs instead of the elevator or mow your own lawn to incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle.

Water Intake

Drinking water is a great way to support a healthy diet. By choosing water over high-calorie drinks, you are not only saving calories, but some studies show water may help suppress your appetite and boost your metabolism. Aim for eight 8-ounce glasses per day.

Some strategies to increase water intake are to carry a water bottle with you everywhere you go, and use fresh fruit like lemon slices to flavor your water.

About HMR

HMR Weight Management Services offers comprehensive programs that combine a structured diet, physical activity and behavioral lifestyle-change coaching. The clinic offers diet programs that can help patients lose 20-200+ pounds.

“We want patients to stay motivated while they are losing weight, and when they get to their goal weight, we teach them how to maintain that weight loss,” said Houghton.

For more information on this medically-supervised program, contact the clinic at 979-690-4473 or HMR@st-joseph.org.



American Journal of Preventive Medicine

My Fitness Pal

American Institute for Cancer Research

Journal of the American Dietetic Association

June 26, 2017

Dry Drowning: Know the Signs

shutterstock_327331739Chances are you’ve heard about “dry drowning” or submersion injuries in the news recently. While it’s rare, dry drowning is always serious.

It’s important for parents to recognize the symptoms of dry drowning and to take steps keep children safe in and out of the water.

What are the Symptoms of Dry Drowning?

There are two types of dry drowning – one happens immediately after a child inhales water and another can occur many hours after a trip to the pool or beach.

“One type of dry drowning is an irritation of the vocal chords, which causes them to spasm and try to close,” said Dr. Neal Spears, Pediatrician with CHI St. Joseph Health South College Station. “This will usually occur immediately after inhaling water. It’s often self-limited, but it can become serious.”

The other type of dry drowning occurs when water is inhaled deep into the lungs, causing swelling and fluid build-up hours later.

“The primary symptoms to watch for are rapid breathing and excessive fatigue,” said Dr. Spears. “It isn’t unusual for a child to be tired after swimming, but if they are VERY tired and breathing like they’ve just finished running around – even though they are sleeping – that could be a very serious sign that something terrible is happening in their lungs.”

Who Does Dry Drowning Affect?

Dry drowning occurs more often with children, because they tend to play a bit rougher in water than adults do, and they end up inhaling more water, according to Dr. Spears.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 10 people die from unintentional drowning daily, but the agency doesn’t collect statistics on dry drowning. However, a 2006 British Medical Journal article suggests dry drowning accounts for only 2-5% of all submersion incidents.

Seek Care Immediately

“If your child is very drowsy and breathing rapidly, huffing and puffing, they should be brought to an Emergency Room for immediate assessment,” said Dr. Spears.

While there is no specific treatment for dry drowning, our team at CHI St. Joseph Health can provide respiratory support, varying from oxygen in mild cases to full mechanical ventilation in severe cases.


The most important thing parents can do to avoid drowning is practice water safety, according to WebMD.

Always watch your child closely when they are in or near water, only swim in areas with lifeguards and never allow your child to swim alone.

Enroll yourself and your child in water safety classes, and if you have a pool at your home, make sure that it’s fenced. Children can drown in any depth of water – bathtubs, toilet bowls, ponds or small plastic pools. Be watchful at all times.

Your CHI St. Joseph Health Pediatrician can be a valuable resource for discussing, assessing and monitoring your child’s ongoing health and safety in a variety of settings.

Learn more about our team of expert Pediatricians and schedule an appointment online today.







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