Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Breast Cancer: Facts, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatments, Prevention

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Many women are diagnosed annually with breast cancer, however, men also have a chance of developing it. This article will explain what breast cancer is, what it does, how it is treated, and ways readers can take preparation to lower their chances of developing the cancer.

What is breast cancer and what does it do?

Breast cancer happens when cells in the breast form a group of cancerous cells which can end up invading the surrounding tissue or spread to other areas of the body. There are times the cell growth goes awry and creates new cells that the body does not need as well as old and damaged cells not going away as they should. As a result, cells build up causing lumps. Breast cancer occurs when a cancerous tumor emerges. 

What are the symptoms or early signs that I may have breast cancer?

  • Breast tenderness or notice of lumps
  • Larger pores in the skin of the breast or a change in texture of skin
  • Non explainable change in size or shape
  • Swelling of breast
  • Unexplained shrinkage
  • Discharge

Naturally, with any of the symptoms, it is a good idea to take a trip to the doctors office. 1 in 8 women are diagnosed to have breast cancer. Odds are 10% more likely if there is a family history.

What happens during the diagnosis?

In order to get diagnosed, there are typically five different ways or steps that the doctor may take. One is a mammogram, which is an x-ray taken to see if there is anything strange going on in the tissue. Another method is taking an ultrasound. This uses sound waves that do not damage the tissue and cannot be heard by human ears. A third method is an MRI. For an MRI, tissue is scanned which makes detailed pictures of activity in areas of the breast. A biopsy can also be done. During a biopsy for breast cancer, tissue is removed and sometimes fluid as well. This is done for examination of the infected cells and are sent for testing. Lastly, additional lab tests may be order for further verification. 

What treatments exist for breast cancer?

The treatments that currently exist for breast cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy (uses drugs to block growth of cancer cells), and lastly is nutrition as well as physical therapy. It is very important to get follow up care after treatment. This helps the doctor to determine if treatment worked as it should have, or if the patient needs more care.

How can I prevent breast cancer?

There is no definite way to prevent breast cancer. However, there is speculation that you can take steps early to hopefully prevent it. Whether or not these are true or false remains to be proven. Ways that are speculated to help are:

  • Limit alcohol use, as research says the more you drink, the more you increase your chances
  • Do not smoke - evidence shows there is a strong link between breast cancer risk and smoking
  • Weight control - researches say being overweight and obese increases chances
  • Be physically active - a healthy way is said to prevent risk of breast cancer
  • Breast feeding is also speculated to play a role in the prevention of breast cancer
  • Limiting dosage and duration of hormone therapy
  • Avoiding exposure to radiation and pollution caused by the environment

For even greater information about breast cancer as well as myths and FAQs, visit the following link:

As always, stay safe and have a fantastic October!

Author: Beth Jeffries, MHC Healthcare Volunteer

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Zika Virus Awareness

The Zika virus is a virus that is rapidly growing. The main carriers for the virus are infected mosquitoes. While these mosquitoes can be active at night, they are primarily out during the day which is why it is important to wear bug spray and find out ways to ward off those pesky insects.

What is the Zika virus exactly?

The Zika virus is known for causing birth defects. As mentioned above, the virus was originally spread by mosquitoes who would pass it on through aggressive biting. Once someone is infected, they can also pass it on to their partner through sex. The virus causes birth defects by entering the fetus and infecting it. It is also associated with other pregnancy issues.

What are the symptoms?

If someone is infected, statistics show one in five with the virus will actually show symptoms. Symptoms associated with the virus include fever, rash, joint pain, and can also show red marks in the white part of the eye. The virus can cause flu-symptoms as well which typically last a few days up to a little over a week. Unfortunately, there are currently no treatments for the virus. Researchers are currently testing vaccines, but they are not yet obtainable.

For babies who are affected with the virus, they will have a stunted head growth which can cause tremendous brain damage and has a good chance resulting in a still birth or a miscarriage. As a result, there are quite a few countries telling pregnant women they should not travel to other countries known to have the virus. Researchers say that as of September 15, 2016, 750 women in the U.S. had confirmed they had the virus. As of September 21, 2016, more than 3,300 travelers had cases of the ZIKA virus. A very small handful was sexually transmitted. 

How can I protect myself and help to spread awareness?
  • Use insect repellent that is EPA-registered
  • Protect your skin by using long sleeved clothing and long pants
  • Staying in places that have air conditioning as well as windows and doors with screens is safe
  • Do not keep standing water in or around the home
  • Share this information with people you know 
  • If you have been to any of the countries known to have the virus, get a checkup with your doctor

The following link will hopefully be useful and shows all the countries currently battling the virus:

For those traveling, stay safe and be sure to carry insect repellent! The virus is said to spread even more this upcoming year.

Learn more about the Zika Virus here:

Author: Beth Jeffries, MHC Healthcare Volunteer

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Farm Safety

From MHC Healthcare's humble beginning in 1957 as a health center serving migrant farm workers in rural Marana, farming is integral to who we are as an organization. This past week, September 18-24, was Farm Safety and Health Week. There are a lot of hazardous materials when entering farmland, and is easy to miss. While Farm Safety Week has come and gone, this information still needs to be circulated. This article will show all the different hazards, how to stay safe, and how to ensure a visit to the farm will not cause health problems.

Some examples of the various dangers on the farm include:

  • Chemicals as well as pesticides
  • Highway Traffic
  • Toxic gas
  • Tractors
  • Livestock
  • Machinery as well as equipment
  • Tools
  • Piles of Manure
  • Wells
  • And many more
The biggest risk factors for injuries are usually children under 15 and adults who are over 65. The main culprit for injuries would be machinery. Seat belts when riding on tractors, as well as goggles and other protective clothing, can help in reducing injuries. Unfortunately, given farms are typically far from the cities, the ability to get to the hospitals in case of an emergency is not likely to happen.

How can I improve my farm safety as well as spread awareness to others?

Researching farming hazards, preparing for proper medical equipment in case of an emergency such as a fire, tractor accident, electric shock, and chemical safety is a great place to start. Be very cautious if you have elderly or children with you in case hazardous equipment or chemicals are nearby. The following are ways you can help to reduce injuries on the farm:
  • Thoroughly read the instructor’s manual for machinery and equipment as well as labels
  • Do a routine checkup on equipment to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary
  • Be sure to discuss safety procedures with the farm workers
  • After maintenance, ensure that guards on the equipment are replaced
  • Take precautionary measures to prevent injuries from silos and grain storage bins
  • Know that methane gas as well as carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and ammonia can form in silos and manure pits that are unventilated and that they can poison workers as well as explode.
  • Always take advantage of safety equipment
Following these safety guidelines can hopefully ensure safety of farm workers as well as those living on the farms and people who come to tour the farmland.

For more information on agricultural health and safety as well as other information, check out the following link:

Have a great September and thank you for reading!

Author: Beth Jeffries, MHC Healthcare Volunteer

Friday, September 9, 2016

Thyroid Cancer Awareness

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness month. Thyroid cancer occurs when abnormal cells develop in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland helps regulate hormones that help the way we use our energy as well as help our body to function normally. Exposure to radiation can increase the chances of getting cancer, so this means head, neck and chest x-rays. The unfortunate truth is that, even if treated, thyroid cancer always has a chance of creeping back.

Thyroid cancer has the following symptoms:
  • Pain in the neck and ears
  • Trouble breathing as well as wheezing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Frequent cough that is not related to illness
  • Troubles swallowing
  • Lump and/or swelling in the neck (the most common symptom)
If you know anyone with the symptoms listed above or if you have symptoms yourself, call your doctor. Where it could easily be something minor, it is best if the doctor finds what is causing the symptoms sooner than later.

Doctors determine that a patient has thyroid cancer by running a biopsy and finding cancerous cells. They remove a small piece of thyroid tissue and then send it for observation. In some situations, results may be unclear which lead to more serious procedures. For treatment, the patient has to go through surgery and radioactive iodine. A suggested way of helping cope with cancer is by joining cancer support groups.

There are many risk factors associated with thyroid cancer and the following are the most common:
  • Age plays a vital role
  • Females have a higher risk, but men can get thyroid cancer too
  • Family history
  • Radiation treatments
This article is meant to spread awareness to thyroid cancer. On a final note, if you or anyone you know has a family history of MTC (medullary thyroid cancer), it is best to get a genetic test to detect specific genes that carry the mutation found with the cancer. The earlier one gets help, the cancer can actually be prevented.

For more information on thyroid cancer awareness, check out the following link:

To find out more about MHC, check out the following link:

Wishing everyone a fantastic September and great start to the school year!

Author: Beth Jeffries, MHC Healthcare Volunteer

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Children's Eye Safety Month

August is the month for the awareness of children’s eye health and safety! Given that August is typically the time that children start attending their new year at school, it is important to get theirs eyes looked at. It is better to assure your children have excellent vision sooner than later on the off chance there is something wrong. 

Unlike having a fever, it can be difficult to tell if someone is having eye problems. A child can have eye problems, but not mention it because it is normal to them. It is a great idea to set up an exam every year to get them checked out. Children should get their eyes checked every time they visit their pediatrician. Age of three should be their first vision test. 

The following signs are what parents should watch out for:

  • Watch and see if your child occasionally gets cross-eyed
  • If they don’t seem enthusiastic about reading or have a hard time seeing objects in the distance
  • If there is an issue with others relatives having vision problems, that could also turn out to be genetic
  • If your child is often squinting during daily activities (or at all)

If you are worried your child may be color blind, crossed eyed, have a lazy eye, drooping eyelids, or if their eyes seem to favor farsighted or nearsighted, set up an appointment as soon as possible. The earlier the doctor can address the problem, the quicker your child can readjust as well as possibly fix the issue entirely. Special glasses are often used to take care of farsighted and nearsighted vision.

About 12 million children are visually impaired worldwide. One of the leading causes of eye injuries are sports that children participate in. 

To address your childrens' eye safety, ensure they are always wearing protective equipment during sports. Also ensure they are playing with toys that are age appropriate. Even though your child may appear mature, there is always a chance of an accident (stumbling and falling or they may not realize how close a toy is to their eyes). 

Hoping the best for this school year! 

For more information on eye safety and awareness, find information at this link as well as for adult vision care:

For more information on MHC Healthcare, check out the following link:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Monsoon Season Safety

Arizona has been witnessing a lot of flooding and thunder storms from the monsoon season for a good part of July and through August so far. Weather forecasts on television, internet and even the radio are a good resource for weather information. Usually gray clouds are another indicator that there may very well be a storm on the way.

When listening or reading about the current weather, remember these key terms:

Watch: This means that a storm is possible.
Warning: Storms have been reported in the area and is the ideal time to prepare safety measures.
Flood Advisory: Rain is certain to cause flooding, mostly minor and is nothing life threatening. 
Flash Flood Warning: This warning means that the flooding is life threatening.

Given monsoon weather typically brings heavy rain, lightning, and at times even harsh wind, there are many ways to keep safe and out of harm. The following are in case of a flood:

  • Do not drive around barricades.
  • Do not try to cross streams in a flooded area.
  • If you are driving and your car gets caught by the water, leave your car and immediately swim or run to an area on higher ground.
  • During the event of the storm, when a traffic signal is not functioning, the light functions as a 4-way stop.
  • Do not attempt to drive through flooded waters.
  • Never let your children play in the flooded waters, especially near a wash area or a storm drain.

The following are safety tips in case of a thunder storm:

  • As soon as you begin to hear the thunder, know that it is not safe to touch any wires.
  • Cell phones as well as wireless phones are perfectly safe to use during a storm. However, it has been said that phones with cords have killed people before due to lightning traveling through the wires.
  • When you know a storm is approaching and the weather warnings are in place, it is best to unplug your electronics to avoid them from getting fried.
  • If you are outside during a thunder storm, seek shelter and be sure to bring outdoor pets indoors.

Following one safety tip could possibly save a life. If you are driving and lose visibility due to rain or a dust storm, pull aside to assure safety. It is also encouraging if you witness someone in danger (where you cannot risk your safety to help) or see a downed power line to call 911 as soon as possible. Your safety always comes first!

For more information about MHC Healthcare, click on this link:

Author: Beth Jeffries, MHC Healthcare Volunteer

Friday, August 5, 2016

Media Contact:
Paul O’Rourke/Bolchalk Frey Marketing

For Immediate Release

MHC Healthcare Celebrates National Health Center Week
Campaign runs August, 7 - 13

TUCSON, AZ (August 5, 2016) – MHC Healthcare, Arizona’s oldest community health center, is celebrating National Health Center Week (NHCW), August 7 – 13, 2016.  Patients who visit any of their 14 locations throughout Pima County will receive a gift bag and be able to test their artistic skills for a chance to win prizes in the MHC Coloring Contest.

There are NHCW events scheduled across the country, including health fairs, visits by Members of Congress and state officials to local health centers, press conferences, back-to-school drives, community breakfasts, patient appreciation events, free health screenings and dental cleanings, and much more.

One of the bright spots in America’s healthcare system, health centers started over 50 years ago as a pilot project during President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Today, they have compiled a significant record of success that includes:
  • Producing $24 billion in annual health system savings
  • Reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and unnecessary visits to the emergency room
  • Treating patients for a fraction of the average cost of one emergency room visit
  • Maintaining patient satisfaction levels of nearly 100 percent
  • Generating $26.5 billion in economic activity and over 230,000 jobs
  • Reducing infant mortality rates 
MHC is proud to be a part of America’s Health Centers’ legacy by serving over 45,000 people in Tucson, Catalina, Picture Rocks and Marana.  MHC delivers high quality, cost effective, accessible care while serving as critical economic engines helping to power local economies.  MHC Healthcare provides services to all people, regardless of the ability to pay or their insurance status.

MHC Healthcare is Arizona’s oldest community health center, providing continuous healthcare since its incorporation, as Marana Heath Center, Inc. in 1957, and was the first facility to offer integration of primary care and counseling and wellness health services in one location.  MHC Healthcare is a recognized participant of a Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH), a model of primary care that focuses on the patient’s entire well-being. As such, the PCMH includes a team of care providers who work closely with patients and their families, recognizing the unique needs, cultures and beliefs of each patient. In short, as part of a PCMH, MHC Healthcare is dedicated to providing the most complete level of care for each patient.

To learn more about MHC Healthcare and NHCW, please visit:

You can also follow the conversation using #NHCW16 or #CHCsInnovate on Twitter.