Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Treatment for a collapsed lung

Treatment of a collapsed lung (atelectasis) depends on the cause and severity of the collapse.

Atelectasis may be due to compression of the lung tissue or obstruction of the air passages (bronchi). The collapse may affect only a small part of the lung or the whole lung. Pneumothorax and pleural effusion can cause the lung to partially collapse without closing off any of the airway. A partially collapsed lung may slowly re-expand without treatment. But a severe collapse of a whole lung can be life-threatening and requires emergency medical attention.

Treatment of atelectasis may include:

  • Removing obstructions from the airway by suctioning mucus or bronchoscopy
  • Performing deep-breathing exercises (incentive spirometry)
  • Clapping (percussion) on the chest to loosen mucus
  • Positioning the body so that the head is lower than the chest (postural drainage) to drain mucus

If an underlying condition such as a tumor is the cause of atelectasis, treatment will also be directed at managing the condition. In the case of a tumor, for instance, treatment may include surgery, radiation or chemotherapy drugs.

If you experience the signs and symptoms of atelectasis, including shortness of breath, chest pain and cough, seek emergency medical attention.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Diet rich in certain vegetables and a decreased risk for breast cancer

Researchers with Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and the Shanghai Cancer Institute in China have discovered a possible link between a diet rich in certain vegetables and a decreased risk for breast cancer.

Corresponding author , assistant professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt-Ingram, said 3,035 women diagnosed with breast cancer were identified through the Shanghai Cancer Registry. They were closely matched with 3,037 women randomly chosen from the general population there. The women filled out questionnaires about their diet, including consumption of cruciferous vegetables like Chinese cabbage, bok choi and turnips. Americans typically eat more broccoli, kale and cauliflower in the cruciferous vegetable family.

“Cruciferous vegetables contain some compounds that may have a cancer-inhibitory effect,” explained Fowke. “Here we were able to identify a group of women who seem to particularly benefit from a high intake of these vegetables.”

While there was only a small positive relationship between a diet high in these vegetables and a reduction in breast cancer risk for the overall study population, there was a striking risk reduction – 50 percent – among women with a certain genetic profile. Researchers identified three forms of the GSTP1 genotype among the cancer patients: Ille/Ile, Ile/Val and Val/Val.

“Women who consumed more of these cruciferous vegetables and who also had the Val/Val genetic polymorphism had a lower breast cancer risk. So we cautiously interpreted this as diet being a factor that may reduce the impact of genetic susceptibility in overall breast cancer risk,” said Fowke.

The Vanderbilt-Ingram researchers focused on cruciferous vegetables because they contain two chemicals called isothiocyanates and indole-3-carbinol which may affect carcinogenesis by triggering cell death or by shifting estrogen metabolism. Studies by other researchers have suggested cruciferous vegetables may reduce the risk of lung, stomach, colorectal and bladder cancers.

“We have known for some time that certain foods, like soy foods, appear to interfere with the development of breast cancer because they contain plant estrogens,” said Fowke. “The protective effect from cruciferous vegetables in this study was certainly suggestive of a risk reduction, but researchers need to replicate this finding in other studies.”

Scientists were able to isolate the specific genetic profile linked with a positive dietary impact because the women in the study submitted DNA through blood and cheek cell samples. Wei Zheng, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt-Ingram is the principal investigator for the Shanghai Breast Cancer study.

“The Shanghai Breast Cancer Study is one of the largest and most comprehensive epidemiological studies conducted to date for this common cancer,” according to Zheng. “We have published over 100 research papers in this study addressing a large range of significant issues related to the etiology and survival of breast cancer. The results reported by Dr. Fowke may have significant implications in breast cancer prevention.”

While women in this study answered questionnaires about their diets, researchers want to measure more precisely the intake of cruciferous vegetables. To aid in future studies they are collecting urine samples which contain biomarkers for the beneficial chemicals.