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Signs and symptoms

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding, spotting or discharge after menopause

  • Prolonged periods or bleeding between periods

  • Pelvic pain or cramping

  • Pain during intercourse

  • Difficult or painful urination

  • Unexpected weight loss
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The good news

Uterine cancer cannot be prevented, but if caught early, it can often be cured. Report any abnormal vaginal bleeding ― regardless of age ― to your doctor.

Uterine cancer is one of four cancers that have a higher than 95 percent five-year relative survival rate if caught early. When uterine cancer moves to distant parts of the body, the survival rate reduces to less than 24 percent.

Survival Rates
Source: American Cancer Society
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The distressing truth about stress

Stress is taking its toll, especially in economic times

Feeling stressed? You’re not the only one. Americans have become increasingly stressed, especially with the downturn in the economy. According to a recent study by Gallup-Healthways Poll published in March in USA Today, more than 24 million Americans describe their lives as having shifted from “thriving” to “struggling.” The poll reported that people’s well-being plunged on days when the stock market lost big and when jobless claims numbers were high. The survey also showed that people between the ages of 30 and 55, who are in their prime earning years, may be suffering most from the tough economic climate.

Most of us can handle the day-to-day pressures caused by our jobs, our families, and our various tasks and responsibilities. In fact, it’s been shown that moderate stress can be a good thing; a little stress can get your blood pumping and help you focus more on the tasks at hand. In fact, experts have determined that the stimulus caused by “good” stress can actually improve your memory, ward off infection and help heart function.

But too much stress is never a good thing. Operating with a high level of pressure and anxiety can lead to a wide range of physical, emotional and behavioral problems. Depression and heart disease are two of the most serious problems caused by too much stress, but headaches, lack of sleep, stomach discomfort, overeating, chest pain and problems in relationships can often be traced to abnormally high levels of tension.

What can we do to manage stress? “The most important thing is to face your source of stress and then do something about it,” said Dr. Joseph Schembri, a licensed psychologist who has run stress management seminars for Boston-area corporations. “People often don’t attack the source of the stress.” Dr. Kenford Nedd, a family practitioner who specializes in stress and is the author of the bestselling book, “Power over Stress,” offers several tactics for beating stress:

“Stress is defined as the response to difficult life circumstances (stressors) that are perceived as beyond the control of the individual.” Nedd says. “Stress comes from the perception that you cannot handle something. If you say to yourself that you can handle it, you will. For example, if you lose your job but tell yourself you can handle it, then you will work to remedy the situation and your stress will be lessened.

“African Americans do tend to have a plethora of stressors, as they need to deal with racism and reduced access to health care and their immune system is likely to suffer because of it,” he added.

Whether it is the economy or other factors in your life that cause stress, the good news is there is an abundance of practical techniques than can be incorporated into your life — both in the long-term and on a short-term basis.

Doctors and mental health experts recommend a number of activities and behaviors to put your mind at ease to lift your tension. Here are some stress-reduction tips:

  • Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes, three times per week. Take a walk, join a gym, or meet a friend to shoot baskets or play tennis. You can also take up proven stress-reducers like tai chi or yoga.

  • Rest and relax. Many stressed-out individuals go to sleep too late, get up too early and never make time for themselves. Figure out how much sleep you need, then make sure you get it. Schedule time to be with family and friends, and stick to the schedule. If you need to, try relaxation exercises or techniques like meditation.

  • Change your eating habits. Cut down on foods and drinks containing caffeine (i.e., coffee, tea, cola, chocolate) and cut way down on fatty, sugary junk food. Also, be sure to eat a well-balanced diet and eat more slowly.

  • Don’t be afraid to make changes. Confront your problems head on and take steps to fix them. If you find yourself in a difficult job or a problem relationship, it may be best to move on for the sake of your mental health.

“Don’t put yourself in difficult situations,” recommends Nedd. “For example, avoid inflammatory conversations with difficult people.”

Rather than give in to negative thoughts and feelings, fight them. Look at things more positively and maintain a sense of humor.

These techniques work for many stressed-out individuals. However, there are cases when chronic stress must be confronted with the help of a medical professional. If you have any of the symptoms listed above and your attempts to correct them through behavioral changes have been unsuccessful, talk to your doctor. You may need to work with a mental health professional or take medication to get your stress under control.

For more information, visit the “stress center” on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts’ A Healthy Me web site: www.ahealthyme.com/topic/stresscenter.