Posts for tag: radiation therapy

           To begin with, the current shingles vaccine contains a live,attenuated (weakened)

virus which is only about 51 % effective in preventing shingles. Therefore,since it

contains a live virus,it should not be used in immunosuppressed individuals,ie,

people with cancer who are undergoing treatment with chemo or radiation therapy or

those with some other defect in their body's ability to fight infection.

            A newer vaccine under development,but not yet available,has about a 97.2 %

efficacy in preventing shingles and does not contain a live virus,and,ie,may be

appropriate even in immunosuppressed individuals.

            And, recent studies indicate shingles in immunocompetent people is

unlikely to recur and even if it does will probably be milder with less risk of

the very painful and often prolonged  post shingles pain known as post

herpetic neuralgia (if they are less than 80 years old).

           In addition,even though the risk of shingles in general is low in

otherwise healthy,elderly adults,physicians should remind patients who have

never had shingles to get vaccinated.

           However,the question now in my mind is should they risk shingles by

waiting for the new vaccine or get the older less effective vaccine now?-

again since it contains a live virus it is not for immunosuppressed individuals.

           And,if they elect  to get the older vaccine,will future studies

show increased shingles immunity and no untoward effects being revaccinated

with the newer more effective shingles vaccine when it becomes available ?

Coming soon.

              Most people beleve that skin cancer  is only caused by too much sun exposure resulting in 

many bad sunburns. However,skin cancer can also be caused by the damage to the skin resulting

from irradiation from  X-rays and from the injestion of arsenic salts.  People living near sod and turf farms

where arsenic is used in fertilizers have the risk of their well water being contaminated by

arsenic.Arsenic can result in a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.

             In addition, scars,burns and vaccination marks can eventuate into skin cancer as well

as non-healing sores and ulers.

            I have forgotten the number of times patients with chronic ulcerated skin areas-especially

on their lower legs-and previously diagnosed as being caused by vascular problems came to

my office with squamous cell carcinomas  as now the predominant part of their skin ulcers.

            In addition,people with internal cancer being treated by chemo and/or radiation

therapy are immunosuppressed and have an increased risk of skin cancer.

           My senior citizen patients often ask me why they are getting skin cancer now 

when they  haven't had excessive sun exposure in many years.My answer: not only is

the effect of the sun cumulative over the years but also as all of us age our immune systems

become weaker and are not able to suppress the seeds of skin cancer sown many years


            The bottom line again: any change in size,color or shape of a skin lesion or any

non-healing sore or ulcer should be checked and probably biopsied by your health care