Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss @cindyweiss

Activity by Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss @cindyweiss


Wed, Mar 22 at 2:30pm EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Prevention is key to brain injuries

athletes on soccer sports field holding injured heads, perhaps concussions

More than 5 million people are living with a brain injury in the U.S., according to the Brain Injury Association of America. Annually, the association estimates approximately 3.5 million children and adults sustain a brain injury.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. There are many types of brain injuries ─ the most common being concussion, which is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain.

Concussions can happen to anyone, but children and athletes are at a particularly high risk, says Mayo Clinic neurologist Dr. W. David Freeman.

Effects of concussion are usually temporary but can include headaches, blurred vision, nausea, and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination. Anxiety and sleep issues also can occur.

Though some injuries can cause a loss of consciousness, most concussions do not. Because of this, some people don't realize they have a concussion. “It is important to be aware when someone sustains a head trauma and stay vigilant for concussion, especially in a young person,” Dr. Freeman says.

“The second most common type of brain injury is an acquired injury, which is what we call hypoxic ischemic brain injury, which happens in about 324,000 individuals each year who have a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting,” says Dr. Freeman.

“When the patient’s heart stops, there is lack of oxygen to the brain, and, so, it can be focal in one part of the brain or global, meaning affecting the entire brain,” he adds.

Stroke, which occurs in about 800,000 people in the U.S. each year, is another form of acquired brain injury.

“Stroke is a medical emergency,” Dr. Freeman notes. “It’s imperative to seek emergency medical care as soon as possible, because certain therapies are time-sensitive, depending upon whether a patient is suffering from a ruptured brain aneurysm, or an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke.”

Calling 911 and being transported to a Comprehensive Stroke Center, which has a dedicated neuroscience ICU can be the difference, he says, between life and death.

“At Mayo Clinic, we not only have teams of neurosurgeons, neurologists, specialty nurse practitioners and physician assistants, but a dedicated neurocritical care unit to ensure the best care is available for brain injury patients,” says Dr. Freeman.

“Also, we have the latest technology and research available for patients that allow us to monitor a patient’s progress and guide their treatment,” he says.

There are several things people can do to help avoid brain injury. Dr. Freeman recommends wearing a helmet, especially when biking or riding a motorcycle, and always wearing a seatbelt.

To minimize brain injury in patients who have cardiac arrest, which can result in loss of oxygen to the brain for four minutes ─ even with CPR ─ Dr. Freeman says maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key. This includes a healthy diet and managing conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension with your doctor.

“Our research has shown that the better your lifestyle, the less complications you may have if you suffer from a brain injury,” he says.

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Wed, Mar 1 at 3:00pm EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

Technology advances help to prevent, lessen impact of colon cancer

medical illustration of colon, polyp and colonoscope

Approximately 140,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the U.S. each year. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Affecting the colon – also known as the large intestine – or rectum, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and the third leading cause in women in the U.S.  According to the American Cancer Society, about 50,000 people die every year from colon cancer.

Age is the biggest risk factor for colon cancer. Most patients are diagnosed over age 50 – followed by a family history of colon polyps or colon cancer, particularly in a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling.

In almost all cases, polyps – also known as colorectal adenomas – are a precursor to colorectal cancer. “While not everyone has polyps, your risk of colon cancer is increased if you have polyps,” says Dr. Victoria Gomez, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist.

African-Americans are also at greater risk of developing colorectal cancer at a younger age, and certain lifestyle factors can increase a person’s risk of developing the disease.

“Studies have shown that, for example, diabetes, obesity, smoking and alcohol abuse have all been shown to potentially increase the risk of colon cancer,” adds Dr. Gomez.

In the earliest stages, people with colorectal cancer may not have any signs or symptoms. However, early signs and symptoms can include blood in the stool, unexplained weight loss and abdominal pain.

Watch: Dr. Gomez and Dr. Wallace discuss colon cancer awareness.

Journalists: Soundbites with Drs. Gomez and Wallace are available for download.

Screening for prevention

Early detection through screening is critical to remove pre-cancerous lesions and to increase survival odds, says Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Dr. Michael Wallace.

“Thanks to universal screening recommendations and the availability of more screening options, colorectal cancer is more often being caught earlier,” Dr. Wallace says.

Colonoscopy is the most common screening procedure available and recommended at least once every 8 to 10 years for adults over 50. Though biopsies are often taken during the procedure, Dr. Wallace says advances in technology now mean doctors can more easily identify and remove precancerous lesions, so patients can avoid unnecessary surgery.

“In the past 10 years, advances in technology have given us the ability to perform endoscopic mucosal resection, where we remove suspicious polyps or precancerous lesions without additional surgery, at the time of colonoscopy. This is particularly relevant for patients found to have large polyps, who were previously recommended to have portions of their bowel removed,” Dr. Wallace explains.

In addition to colonoscopy, patients can take advantage of a virtual colonoscopy using a CT scan or a stool DNA test called Cologuard, which was co-invented by Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Dr. David Ahlquist.

Regardless of which test is selected, “at the end of the day, the most important thing is for you to have a good conversation with your health care provider and be screened,” says Dr. Gomez.

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Tue, Jan 31 at 1:30pm EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

New treatments to extend life for multiple myeloma patients

two cancer patients sitting in chairs receiving intravenous treatment

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells that reside inside bone marrow. Plasma cells produce certain proteins that build up the immune system. In abnormal quantities, these proteins damage the body and compromise the immune system.

Historically, patients with multiple myeloma did not survive more than a couple of years after diagnosis. Now, patients with this type of cancer are living more than three times as long thanks to new, more effective treatments.

“We are now able to diagnose and treat myeloma earlier, before it starts damaging the body, so that it may be controlled effectively and any irreversible damage to the body may be delayed significantly,” says Dr. Sikander Ailawadhi, a hematologist/oncologist at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Jacksonville, Florida.

In 2015, within a span of two weeks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved three new drugs to treat multiple myeloma.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cindy Weiss, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005,

“It was unprecedented to have these drugs approved within such a short span of time for the treatment of a disease which is considered incurable,” says Dr. Ailawadhi. But, with the excellent treatment options now available – and centers that specialize in the treatment of this condition – he adds most patients can achieve remission and have had an improvement in survival.

“We can almost guarantee some degree of response to every single patient who walks through the doors for treatment with newly diagnosed myeloma,” he adds.

“Some of the most exciting things are the development of new drugs,” explains Dr. Ailawadhi. “Specifically, using currently available drugs to see what drives resistance of the myeloma cells, isolating those pathways and then developing new drugs that can specifically target those resistance mechanisms.”

More drugs are on the horizon, Dr. Ailawadhi says, noting that there are many active clinical trials available to patients through the Hematologic Malignancies Program, which conducts blood and bone marrow cancer research.

Currently, there are more than 50 active clinical trials available at Mayo Clinic.

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Tue, Jan 24 at 10:30am EDT by @cindyweiss · View  

10 years of The Donna: Running for a cure

runners at the starting line in the Donna Breast Cancer Marathon

For 10 years, runners have gathered every February to participate in the 26.2 with Donna. It’s a marathon to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research and care. Founder Donna Deegan is a three-time breast cancer survivor who was treated at Mayo Clinic. With funds from the marathon and related events, Donna – and thousands of participants from around the world – have helped Mayo Clinic establish the Breast Cancer Translational Genomics Program. As a result, researchers have begun to uncover new information about breast cancer and develop better ways to diagnose and treat the disease, as well as other cancers.

With a look back at this international event and the impact it’s having on breast cancer, here’s Vivien Williams for the Mayo Clinic News Network.

Watch: Ten years of The DONNA: Running for a cure

Journalists: The broadcast-quality video (2:12) is available in the downloads.

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Dec 27, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

The Zepeda family story: Celebrating almost three decades of cancer care

a family having a picnic under a tree in a local park
Miami resident Yadira Zepeda will never forget the day she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. It came with bitter finality: she had advanced disease, no treatment could cure her and her local physician said she probably had 2-4 months left to live.

Instead of accepting that grim diagnosis, Yadira went to Mayo Clinic, driving north six hours to a new campus in Jacksonville, Florida for a second opinion.

That was 26 years ago, in 1990.

Thanks to Mayo Clinic's specialized cancer care, Yadira and her family, which now includes four children and six grandchildren, have had countless moments and memories they never expected.

Watch: Yadira's story.

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Dec 12, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

Breathing easier for pulmonary hypertension patients

Laura F - Pulmonary Hypertension
It was two years ago, on Christmas Day 2014, when Orlando, Florida resident Laura Floeckher, 47, was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH), a rare disorder of the lungs affecting about 30 in every one million people.

Mayo Clinic in Florida is one of 26 designated Pulmonary Hypertension and Vascular Disease Centers in the country, recognized for its comprehensive care, including being the only facility in the south to offer a complex surgery known as pulmonary thromboendarterectomy, which Laura underwent a year ago.Laura Floecker - Pulmonary Hypertension

Now, a year after the procedure, Laura, can easily visit local theme parks with her family and spend time with her six-month-old grandson, whom she affectionately calls her “sweet potato.”

She’s recovered so well that at a recent follow-up appointment, her physician says the infusion pump she’s had for two years can be removed. “While I’ll never run a marathon, I am planning to participate with my company at a community 5K race in February," Laura says. "I did one about four years back before I got sick and it’s my goal to walk in it again.”

Learn more about pulmonary hypertension in this Mayo Clinic Minute.

Watch: Laura's Story 

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Nov 23, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

Rare kidney disease prompts new treatment options

medical illustration of normal kidney and diseased kidney
After diabetes and high blood pressure, glomerulonephritis is the third leading cause of kidney failure in the U.S., according to the U.S. Renal Data System.

Glomerulonephritis (GN) is a disease that damages the tiny filters in the kidneys called glomeruli and can affect individuals of all ages, gender, and race or ethnicity. These filters get inflamed, which causes protein and blood to spill into the urine, or they become scarred, which prevents the elimination of waste from the body.

“If GN is not diagnosed early or traditional treatments fail, kidney function can progressively decline, and patients may require dialysis or need a kidney transplant,” says nephrologist Dr. Nabeel Aslam.  Conditions that can lead to inflammation of the kidneys' glomeruli include infections and viruses, such as HIV and hepatitis C, and autoimmune illnesses such as lupus. Various cancers and medications also can cause GN. “There are many types and causes of GN, which can make treatment challenging,” says Dr. Aslam.

New treatments and support

To address this rare disease and streamline care for patients, Mayo Clinic has added a multidisciplinary Glomerulonephritis Clinic to its Florida campus.

Our goal with the GN clinic is to promptly identify and treat patients affected by this disorder, so they can avoid long-term complications. It’s important that patients with GN have access to a full team of specialists to address all the possible effects and issues that can come with kidney disease and failure.
- Dr. Aslam

The clinic includes a comprehensive team of nephrologists, nephro-pathologists, radiologists, rheumatologists and nutritionists to manage care, address side effects and, hopefully, avoid a transplant, adds Dr. Aslam. "In addition, we are able to offer participation in research trials to evaluate new treatments for patients with glomerulonephritis,” he says.

The development of new targeted medicines that affect the specific immune system cells are showing promise in treating patients with various types of GN. There are also new tests that help diagnose and monitor the response to the treatment for patients with GN.

“Our GN team specializes in interpreting these new tests, selecting appropriate patients who can benefit from the new targeted medicines and managing side effects. This can help preserve kidney function and avoid the need for dialysis or kidney transplant,” explains Dr. Aslam.

Seeking medical attention

Dr. Aslam recommends seeking medical attention if patients have one or more of these symptoms:

  • Swelling of the legs
  • Red or tea-colored urine
  • A rapid 10-20 pound weight gain with edema
  • Sudden increased blood pressure

Watch: Dr. Aslam discusses rare kidney disease treatments.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Aslam are in the downloads.


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Nov 17, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

Improving outlook for pancreatic cancer

world-pancreatice-cancer-day"Advances in screening, surgery and genetic classification are leading to improvements for treating pancreatic cancer." - Dr. Michael Wallace

November 17 is World Pancreatic Cancer Day but the entire month of November is meant to bring awareness to this disease. Although the incidence of pancreatic cancer has not risen significantly over the past decade, the disease is the third most common cause of cancer death in the United States, recently surpassing breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, 53,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer are expected in 2016, but an estimated 42,000 deaths will occur annually.

“Although we have made great advances in many cancers, pancreas cancer remains one of the most difficult to treat ― often because patients are diagnosed at a late stage,” says Dr. Michael Wallace, a gastroenterologist on Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida. “But I am optimistic about the future, as we are seeing major areas of progress.”

Advances in screening for high-risk individuals, surgical innovations and new genetic classifications are changing the outlook for pancreatic cancer, he says.

High-risk populations

Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas — an organ in the abdomen that secretes enzymes to aid digestion and hormones to help regulate the metabolism of sugars. All individuals, regardless of gender, race, color or age, can be at risk, says Dr. Wallace.  Heavy alcohol use, coupled with heavy tobacco use increases risk.

Although there are several known pancreatic cancer syndromes – fewer than 1 in 10 people have a known genetic risk factor, he says. But individuals who have one or more family members affected by pancreatic cancer, especially at a young age, should be monitored.

“This broad group of people may represent up to 20 percent of individuals who are at increased risk, but it is important that we follow them closely, especially since we do have effective screening tests now, including MRI and endoscopic ultrasound,” he notes.

illustration of pancreatic cancer and related anatomy

Cysts and risk

Thanks to advances in MRI technology, doctors today can identify pancreatic cysts, small saclike pockets of fluid that may increase the risk for cancer. “We find cysts in about 40 percent of the population. While most are inconsequential, it is important to distinguish which of them are benign and which we need to either watch, biopsy or even surgically remove,” Dr. Wallace explains.

In 2015, Dr. Wallace and a team of colleagues developed a profile of the patient who would be most at risk of these lesions developing into cancer. Their analysis was published in Digestive and Liver Diseases.

Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Wallace are in the downloads.

“Studies such as these allow us to further stratify people into a low-, medium- or high-risk category for their cyst becoming cancerous, based on characteristics, including size and shape. This will hopefully enable us to help diagnose cancer earlier and, in turn, positively impact survival,” he says.

Surgical and genetic advances

“Traditionally, only about 5 percent of all patients are diagnosed at an early stage where we can resect their tumor completely with surgery,” Dr. Wallace says. “Now, we are pushing the boundary of who we can get to surgery. Because, if we can get the tumor out, we can cure those individuals.”

In addition, robust research related to the genetic classification of tumors is helping to evolve treatment for many patients.

In the past, genetic information was usually only available from surgical specimens. But, today, thanks to fine needle biopsies, “we’re able to get enough material and look at genetic sequences to see if there is a better medication available when our current options are exhausted,” Dr. Wallace explains.

“Precision medicine is very exciting, but we’re seeing major areas of progress on many fronts for pancreatic cancers,” says Dr. Wallace. “There is hope for this cancer.”


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Nov 4, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

Improved treatments available for lymphedema patients

a medical illustration of lymphedema in the leg and the application of compression stockingsArm or leg swelling, fluid retention and skin infections are common among cancer patients who have had surgery on or radiation to their lymphatic network. The condition, known as lymphedema, occurs when there is an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the upper or lower extremity because the lymphatic vessels are unable to drain adequately.

“For many people, lymphedema is synonymous with breast cancer but the condition can affect people treated for other cancers, including sarcoma, melanoma, prostate, testicular or gynecologic cancers and head and neck cancers,” says Dr. Sarah McLaughlin, surgeon and director at the Robert and Monica Jacoby Center for Breast Health at Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville, Florida.

Symptoms can vary. In addition to swelling in parts of the arms or legs, lymphedema can cause a feeling of heaviness and infections and thickening of the skin. There can be complications due to this condition including bacterial infections and lymphangiosarcoma, a rare form of soft tissue cancer that is caused by untreated lymphedema.

Lymphedema has no cure, but the condition can be managed, especially if caught early, says Dr. McLaughlin. “We know that, if we can identify the swelling early and intervene early, treatment may be easier and more effective for patients. Unfortunately, it cannot be cured.”

Who is at risk?

The risk of developing the condition varies based on the type of surgery performed, says Dr. McLaughlin.

Approximately 20 percent of all breast cancer patients develop lymphedema, she estimates, but notes that the true incidence of lymphedema is not entirely known, in part because it might not develop for monthsor years after treatment.

“This condition doesn’t happen immediately after surgery. It can take anywhere from six months to three years, so it’s hard to know who is actually going to get it, and it is not always reported,” says Dr. McLaughlin.

For example, breast cancer patients who require a sentinel node biopsy with approximately two to four lymph nodes removed have an estimated 5 percent risk of developing lymphedema, Dr. McLaughlin says. The risk increases to between 15 and 20 percent for women with more invasive disease who require most or all of their underarm lymph nodes to be removed, she says.

Quality of life impacts

While some patients may only experience limited swelling, lymphedema is a chronic condition requiring daily treatment to reduce and manage pain and swelling. Patients typically require specialized physical therapy, skin care and massage, as well as customized compression garments.

“Lymphedema negatively impacts a patient’s quality of life for the duration of his or her life, in part, because of the necessary care and maintenance to manage his or her condition. As the lymphedema progresses, it becomes more burdensome for patients,” Dr. McLaughlin explains.

Advances in treatment

Recent surgical advances have made surgical management of lymphedema a viable alternative.

“Mayo Clinic’s campus in Florida is one of a few centers in the country offering patients a minimally invasive surgery, known as lymphovenous bypass, which has been shown to significantly improve a patient’s quality of life,” says plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Antonio J. Forte.

“Though surgery is not curative, microsurgical treatment of lymphedema allows patients to have great improvement of their condition by removing the excessive fluid that accumulates in their limbs,” Dr. Forte explains.

With this technique, a few small incisions are made just underneath the skin in the arm. Then, using a microscope, the surgeon connects a lymphatic vessel with a small vein to bypass the blockage and allow the excess fluid to drain properly.

Dr. Forte says that, while most of his patients report dramatic improvements in their day-to-day life following the bypass, some swelling still occurs.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Weiss, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs,

Watch: Dr. Forte & Dr. McLaughlin talk more about lymphedema.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Forte are in the downloads.

Ongoing work and education

Dr. McLaughlin is leading additional research studies focused on lymphedema, with the goal of identifying patients who are at risk for the condition and then helping them manage the disorder, so they can maintain a positive quality of life.

“Many women worry about lymphedema and then alter their lifestyle because of their worry and anxiety about developing it. It is important that we educate all of our patients on their risk of lymphedema and create tailored interventions and prevention strategies for each woman. We don’t want them to live the rest of their life in fear.”

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Oct 17, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

What you need to know about this year’s flu vaccine

a health care provider with gloves on giving a person a flu shot injection in the upper arm

In addition to changing leaves, the arrival of fall usually signifies the beginning of flu season.

A serious and potentially deadly virus, influenza causes fever, coughing and muscle aches. It also can lead to other complications, such as pneumonia, bronchitis and, potentially, death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 49,000 flu-related deaths occur annually. Internal medicine specialist Dr. Vandana Bhide, who treats many hospitalized flu patients at Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville, Florida, offers advice and information on this year’s flu strains, available vaccines, and tips to avoid getting the flu.

New information on the flu 

For the 2016-2017 flu season, there have been several updates, including a recommendation by the CDC against the FluMist. Dr. Bhide notes:

  • All vaccines are injectable. There is a needleless system option for those with a fear of needles.
  • This year's flu strains include H1N1 A and a new subtype known as H3N2. There’s also a new B strain called Brisbane.
  • A quadravalent vaccine is available, which has two influenza A strains and two influenza B strains.
  • There are options available for people with egg allergies that are made in cell cultures or are completely synthetic.

"This year, there is a vaccination option for everyone," says Dr. Bhide.

Importance of the vaccine

Dr. Bhide encourages everyone to consider a flu vaccine, particularly those at high risk for complications — individuals over 65, pregnant women, children 6 months to 2 years old, and individuals who are immunocompromised.

"Many people who get the flu will have a fever, experience muscle aches and feel the need to stay home from work or school for a few days. Certain people can develop serious complications. The vaccine can help avoid these issues,” says Dr. Bhide.

Due to the unpredictability of the flu season, which is typically from October to March, there is no specific date by which you should get your vaccine. The only advice is that the vaccine should be administered as early as possible to be able to take effect before exposure to the virus.

"The vaccine is the best defense against the flu and serious flu-related conditions, and, because it's difficult to predict how and when the flu will strike, I recommend getting it as early as you possibly can," says Dr. Bhide.

Watch: Dr. Bhide discuss the latest in flu.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Weiss, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005,

Tips for avoiding illness

Dr. Bhide offers these tips for staving off the flu and other illnesses, regardless of the season:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with water and soap, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    This is particularly important before leaving the bathroom, eating or touching your face.
  • Avoid others who are sick, and stay home from work or school if you are ill.
    Dr. Bhide recommends visiting the doctor if you are part of the highrisk group for flu or around someone who is at risk.
  • Keep your vaccines up to date.
    Aside from the seasonal flu shot, the most important vaccines, she says, include measles, mumps and rubella and the combined Tdap, which covers tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (whooping cough).

"In general, vaccines are not going to prevent you from getting the flu by themselves; the best way to avoid getting sick with the flu is by combining healthy living practices with an up-to-date vaccine," says Dr. Bhide.

She adds that it's important to see your doctor immediately when you begin experiencing flu symptoms. A prescription medication is available for some patients who have had flu symptoms for less than 48 hours.

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Oct 8, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

Mayo Clinic's Florida campus returning to normal operations after hurricane

exterior of Mayo Clinic hospital entrance in Florida
UPDATE Saturday, Oct. 8, 9:30 AM ET
Mayo Clinic's Florida campus is returning to normal operations.

  • The hospital and emergency room remain open
  • The Clinic will open for regular business hours on Monday, October 10
  • Dialysis will be open Sunday, October 9 for scheduled patients

UPDATE Friday, Oct. 7, 9 PM ET
Hurricane Matthew is weakening as it moves up the coast away from Florida. Hotels and other buildings on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus will reopen when authorities deem it is safe for people to travel to the area and allow residents to return to surrounding areas that were evacuated by the city. Mayo Clinic will resume normal operations once it is safe to travel.


UPDATE Friday, Oct. 7 at 9:45 AM ET
All clinic and non-inpatient operations at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus are now closed through Saturday, Oct. 8.

UPDATE Thursday, Oct. 6 at 11 PM ET
Mayo Clinic's Florida campus is located in a zone where there is the potential for flooding. Our capacity to handle new patients at this time is limited.

UPDATE Thursday, Oct. 6 at 4 PM ET
Mayo Clinic continues to monitor Hurricane Matthew. The following is an update to operations:

  • Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has ordered an evacuation of the Jacksonville beaches and Intracoastal areas within Zones A, B and C. Mayo Clinic's Florida's campus is located in Zone C, but as a vital service we are requested to “defend in place” and are prepared to do so. The hospital uses this strategy due to the population of individuals, including patients who are be confined to bed and maybe unable to evacuate; or patients who may be attached to life-sustaining equipment and removing from the building might be dangerous. If needed, occupants are moved to a safe location on the same floor or a higher location.
  • Mayo Clinic's Beaches Primary Care, St. Augustine Primary Care, and Sandcastle are closed and will likely re-open on Monday, Oct. 10.
  • All clinic and non-inpatient operations will end at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6.
  • Mayo Clinic is formalizing plans to extend hours the week of Oct. 10 to accommodate any patients looking to reschedule because of the storm.
  • The patient information line (904-953-7100) remains active.

UPDATE 12:00 p.m. ET, Thursday, Oct. 6
Mayo Clinic is committed to serving the needs of our patients and community before, during, and after Hurricane Matthew. In response to Hurricane Matthew the following changes will be made to operations at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus:

  • The following Mayo Clinic locations closed at end of business on Wednesday, Oct. 5 and will re-open on Monday, Oct. 10: Beaches Primary Care, St. Augustine Primary Care, and Sandcastle.
  • All clinic and non-inpatient operations will end at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6.
  • Outpatient dialysis services will be modified to accommodate patients on Thursday, Oct. 6 and Sunday, Oct. 9. Outpatient dialysis will be closed Friday, Oct. 7 and Saturday, Oct. 8.
  • Plans to extend clinic hours the week of Oct. 10 are underway to accommodate any patients looking to reschedule because of the storm.

As of Thursday, October 6, 12:00 noon Eastern, Hurricane Matthew continues to be a threat to the east coast of the U.S.. Currently, Matthew is a major hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 156 mph. (Category 4). The storm is in the northwest Bahamas, moving northward at 10 mph.

The latest track from the National Hurricane Center shows Matthew affecting the east coast of Florida, as well as eastern portions of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. As with any hurricane, a shift in track will increase or decrease local impacts.

Hurricane Matthew’s approach puts it close to Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville, Florida. Storm tracking indicates it will impact the area late on Friday, Oct. 7, into the morning of Saturday, Oct. 8.

Currently, Mayo Clinic's Florida campus and all related facilities are open during business hours. The clinic is formalizing plans to extend hours on Thursday, Oct. 6, as well as the week of Monday, Oct. 10, to accommodate patients looking to reschedule because of the storm.

The hospital on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus has what is called a defend-in-place strategy. This is due to the population of individuals, including patients who may be confined to bed and maybe unable to evacuate; or patients might be attached to life-sustaining equipment and removing from the building might be dangerous. If needed, occupants are moved to a safe location on the same floor or a higher location.

Updates will be added to this Mayo Clinic News Network post throughout the weekend.
Call the Patient Information Hotline at 904-953-7100 for the latest information.

For the latest on Hurricane Matthew go to the National Hurricane Center.

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Oct 5, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

Safety suggestions before a hurricane hits


When a natural disaster strikes, being properly prepared can help ensure personal safety and well-being. Mayo Clinic experts advise that it's just as important to have appropriate medical provisions on hand as food and water.

"It is important to have food, water and other household supplies on hand when preparing for a hurricane or other disaster, but it is also important to take stock of your health care necessities and prepare a first-aid kit, as well, " says Dr. Vandana Bhide, internist at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus.

Dr. Bhide recommends these supplies:

  • Antibiotic cream or ointment
  • Band-Aids and gauze
  • A two-week supply of any prescription medications
  • Disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer
  • Bug repellent
  • Sun block

"For people who are on a special diet, such as a low-salt or diabetic diet, we advise them to stock up on the specific food and be prepared to bring it with them if they need to evacuate," says Dr. Bhide.

Pregnant women, especially those 38 weeks and beyond, should also take special precautions, Dr. Bhide adds. "Identify the closest hospital, and be prepared with items not only for yourself, but for your baby,  such as diapers, bottles and clothing, in case you deliver early," she says.

Dr. Bhide also reminds that, since most hospitals are not available as shelters, patients relying on durable medical equipment, including oxygen and home ventilators, should identify the nearest special-needs medical shelter. Most cities and towns should have one that can accommodate patients requiring power for medical devices.

"It is also important to remember to stay away from standing water that might occur as a result of any flooding. I also advise patients to include bug spray, particularly the ones that are effective against mosquitoes." Dr. Bhide says.


Food safety reminders

"Having a plan for basic food and water, particularly if power outages occur, will ensure proper nutrition, energy and long-term wellness," says Mayo Clinic nutritionist Debra Silverman.

When an emergency strikes you should:

  • Keep refrigerator/freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  • Refrigerator will keep cold for four hours if left unopened.
  • Freezer will keep food cold for 48 hours if full.
  • The temperature danger zone= 41 degree Fahrenheit to 135 degres Fahrenheit.
  • If refrigerated food greater than 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours, discard the food.

Foods to store are:

  • Bottled water (3 gallons per person per day)
  • Shelf-stable boxed drinks (e.g., fruit juice and powdered milk)
  • Canned goods (vegetables, fruit, meats and beans)
  • Peanut butter or other nut butters
  • Crackers
  • Trail mix/dried cereal

Silverman also recommends keeping disposable cutlery, paper plates and cups on hand. Gel-based hand sanitizer or disenfectant wipes are also helpful.

Watch: Nutritionist Debra Silverman discuss hurricane preparation tips.


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Sep 28, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

Women's Wellness: Decreasing the most common gynecologic cancer

a woman with a head scarf sitting quietly on a couch with her hand together, deep in thought looking sad, perhaps prayingEndometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. An estimated 60,000 new cases of endometrial cancer – also known as uterine cancer – are diagnosed annually.

Endometrial cancer begins in the layer of cells lining the inside of the uterus. It often is detected at an early stage because it usually produces abnormal vaginal bleeding. However, more than 10,000 women die each year from this cancer.

Although endometrial cancer typically affects post-menopausal women, it can affect adult women at any age.

"Those at higher risk include women who are obese, have high blood pressure, diabetes or polycystic ovarian syndrome," says Dr. Jamie Bakkum-Gamez, gynecologic oncologist and surgeon with the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. "We also know that tamoxifen use doubles the risk of endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women."

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Weiss, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 

In addition, about 5 percent of all cases are related to genetics, says Dr. Bakkum-Gamez. "Women who have a familial history suggestive of Lynch syndrome, which can include a history of colon, ovarian, stomach, urinary tract and pancreatic cancers are at higher risk also. Knowing your family history is important. If there is a strong family history of cancer, I recommend seeing a genetic counselor."

Watch: Dr. Bakkum-Gamez give an overview of endometrial cancer

Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Bakkum-Gamez are in the downloads.

Treatment advances

Surgery is the primary form of treatment for women with endometrial cancer. If discovered early, removing the uterus surgically often cures endometrial cancer, says Dr. Bakkum-Gamez.

"The standard of care is to perform minimally invasive surgery ─ usually vaginal, laparoscopic, or robotic surgery. Robotic surgery has been a major advance in endometrial cancer management as it decreases complication rates," she notes.

Depending upon pathology and individual risk, chemotherapy is used to treat some patients. If lymph nodes are involved, patients also are treated with external radiation. "For some women with early-stage cancer who are at high risk of a vaginal recurrence, we also have a form of internal radiation ─ vaginal brachytherapy ─ that is available," Dr. Bakkum-Gamez says.

illustration of uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, endometrial cancer, gynecological surgery

Screening tests and innovations

Currently, there is no screening test available for endometrial cancer but Dr. Bakkum-Gamez is working on research to address early detection and risk. She is leading a team from Mayo Clinic and the National Cancer Institute in the development of a new tampon-based test for endometrial cancer. She is also hoping to develop virus-based therapies to help destroy cancer cells in patients with metastatic endometrial cancer.

"Once endometrial cancer metastasizes, it is often very difficult to treat so it is important for us to identify it early and treat it most effectively," she says. "I tell women all the time: any abnormal uterine bleeding should be investigated."Women's Wellness logo

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Sep 14, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

Women's Wellness: Early diagnosis for ovarian cancer

ovarian cancer patient Cindy Weiss wearing a head turban during treatment

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 20,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and physicians want to raise awareness in the hopes of helping spur earlier diagnoses.

There are several types of ovarian cancer, which can include cancer of the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the lining of the peritoneum. While anyone can be at risk, ovarian cancer is most common in women over age 50 and those women who are known carriers of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes.

“The majority of ovarian cancer is sporadic but it is the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths, due in part to the challenges with early diagnosis,” says Dr. Carrie Langstraat, gynecologic surgeon at Mayo Clinic.

Common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal bloating or stomach ache
  • Back pain
  • A feeling of fullness after eating
  • Bowel changes

“These are common symptoms that women often chalk up to other things and then they aren’t diagnosed until the cancer has progressed,” Dr. Langstraat says. “I always encourage women to follow up with their physician if their symptoms persist. The earlier we can diagnose ovarian cancer, the better we can treat it.”

Screening and diagnosis

Ultrasounds and a blood test, known as a CA 125, may be useful in helping to determine a diagnosis. However, Dr, Langstraat says, there is not a great screening tool for ovarian cancer.

“For women with BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutations, who are at higher risk for ovarian cancer, a CA 125 test may be effective in looking for early signs," she explains. "But overall, it is not accurate enough to use for ovarian cancer screening in all women since other things, including menstruation, can increase the CA 125 level. We would like to see a better screening testing for everyone."

Watch: Dr. Lanstraat give an overview of ovarian cancer

Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Langstraat are in the downloads.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Weiss, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 

Advances in care

Due to the nature of the disease, Dr. Langstraat notes that a majority of women have a recurrence. “But new treatments are coming down the line that will hopefully contribute to a decreased risk of recurrence,” she says.

Several clinical studies are underway looking at vaccines designed to prevent the recurrence of ovarian cancer.

“Our hope is that soon we will have a better screening test for everyone and then be able to cure more patients up front," says Dr. Langstraat. "But in the meantime, I tell my patients to stay vigilant and be an advocate for yourself.”Women's Wellness logo

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Aug 15, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

Catching the Signs of Concussion

brain illustration 16 x 9

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, every 13 seconds, someone in the U.S. sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. The most common type of TBI is a concussion.

Concussions can happen to anyone, but children and athletes are at a particularly high risk.

Dr. Jennifer Roth Maynard says, “There are over 300,000 head injuries reported annually in high school athletics and over 90 percent are concussions.”  Dr. Maynard is a primary care and sports medicine physician at Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville, Florida and chair of the Northeast Florida Regional Sports Concussion Task Force.

Effects of concussion are usually temporary, but can include headaches, blurred vision, nausea, and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination. Anxiety and sleep issues can also occur.

Though some injuries can cause a loss of consciousness, most concussions do not. Because of this, Dr. Maynard says some people don't even realize they have a concussion. She adds, "Spreading awareness about concussion, knowing the signs and symptoms and seeking prompt medical attention is essential to helping prevent long-term injuries, especially in young people."

Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Maynard are in the downloads. [TRT 2:07]

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Jul 27, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

Rise in Head and Neck Cancer Spurs Innovations in Care

a medical illustrations of the head and neck cancer regions

Incidence of head and neck cancers – usually defined as malignancies above the collarbone but outside the brain – are on the rise, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society (ACS).  The most common is thyroid cancer, with more than 62,000 cases annually.

Other head and neck cancers, including tumors of the mouth, tongue, throat, vocal cords, and salivary glands, account for about 3 percent of all new cancer diagnosis in the U.S.  This year, more than 61,000 new cases will be diagnosed.

According to the ACS, the primary causes of most head and neck cancers, which are more common in men than women, are: alcohol and tobacco use, and exposure to HPV, the same virus that increases a woman’s risk of cervical cancer.

“In the past decade, we’ve seen an epidemic rise in cancers in the back of the throat, specifically in the tonsils and the base of the tongue ─ most which are related to HPV,” says Dr. Geoffrey Young, a head and neck surgeon in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology on Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus.

The growing number of cases, coupled with advancements in technology and treatment options, has “created a new paradigm in caring for these patients, as they usually require multiple subspecialists coordinating care over weeks and months,” says Dr. Young.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Weiss, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, at 507-284-5005 or

JOURNALISTS: Animation and sound bites are in the downloads.

New treatment options

To help streamline the care process, Mayo Clinic’s campus in Florida recently launched a Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Clinic, offering patients a single point of entry into Mayo Clinic’s Cancer Center. The new clinic provides a coordinated approach to specialty care, including surgical oncology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, neuro-radiology and pathology.

In recent years, advances in minimally invasive robotic surgery, mean patients suffering from throat cancers, in particular, have more treatment options. “We now have the opportunity, thanks to advances in robotic surgery and minimally invasive techniques, to treat patients who previously were not candidates for surgery,” says Dr. Young.

In addition, research has also led to advances in chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

The value of the new multidisciplinary clinic, in addition to convenience, says Dr. Young, is that patients have the opportunity to learn about all the available treatment options and make real-time decisions with the entire team of experts.

“In a single office visit, patients have a full analysis with all of the providers. And at the end of the 45 minutes, they have a comprehensive treatment plan individualized to them so they can immediately begin treatment,” explains Dr. Young.

Seeking expertise

Diagnosing head and neck cancers can be challenging, since many do not have symptoms until they are in the later stages. As such, Dr. Young recommends seeking out medical advice for any changes or pain in the mouth, throat, or neck.

“The most common misconception is that these cancers cannot be cured. With the right treatment, many patients can return to a normal quality of life,” says Dr. Young.

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Jul 25, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

Pediatricians Central in Zika Patient Care

a baby or infant's head being cradled in the hands of a doctor in a white coat with a stethoscope
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to track pregnant women with Zika infections, the organization has said that due to the risks, children – and infants especially – must be monitored closely after confirmed exposure for developmental and neurological issues.

A recent report indicates that children affected with Zika will need multidisciplinary care, particularly since the implications of the illness may not be apparent for some time.

“The primary pediatrician will play a critical role in following a Zika-exposed infant or child, not only to closely monitor growth and development, but to coordinate care with specialists such as pediatric ophthalmologists, ear, nose and throat physicians, and neurologists,” says Dr. Vandana Bhide, an internist and pediatrician at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Other important roles of the pediatrician include ensuring timely vaccinations and blood tests for children as well as appropriate referrals to intensive physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy for those youngsters found to have motor and intellectual developmental delays,” she adds.

Pediatricians also can be a valuable support resource for families who suddenly find themselves caring for a special needs child.

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Jul 22, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

Non-travel Zika Case Spurs Concerns: Tips for Protection

a computer monitor screen of the CDC website with a magnifying glass, illustrating the words "Zika virus"Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working with the Florida Department of Health to investigate the first Zika case that appears to have no connection to travel or sexual contact transmission.

Mayo Clinic internal medicine specialist Dr. Vandana Bhide from Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville, Florida, says the challenge is determining if there is now an infected population of mosquitoes in the U.S.

Listen to Dr. Vandana Bhide discuss Zika virus.

“We know which mosquitoes carry the Zika virus, and they are very common and like being around people,” says Dr. Bhide. “The concern is that we don’t yet know if there is an infected mosquito population here in the U.S. or if there is some other person-to-person spread.”

"Identifying a population of mosquitoes that are infected with the Zika virus is not a simple process, despite the tracking and monitoring of the insects," says Dr. Bhide. “Now is the time when we need to think about this,” she adds, noting that the best defense against infection is to avoid being bitten.

To avoid mosquito bites, you should:

  • Control environmental factors, such as standing water.
  • Stay indoors more.
  • Use insect repellant or protection such as mosquito nets.

According to local Florida news reports, health officials say they are investigating a second possible case of Zika spread locally.


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May 31, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

Your Hearing At Risk? Protect Your Ears

a man trying to listen, cupping his ear because of hearing loss
Hearing loss is a natural part of the aging process. But, noise-induced hearing loss is on the rise, leading to May being recognized as Better Hearing Month.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 15 percent of adults in the U.S. from 20 to 69 and 5 percent of children over 6 are affected by noise-induced hearing loss.

“The two most common reasons for hearing loss are aging and noise-induced hearing loss,” says Dr. Greta Stamper, an audiologist at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Noise-induced hearing loss can occur anytime you are exposed to excessively loud sounds. It occurs most often due to repetitive exposure to loud sounds but permanent hearing loss can occur after even one episode,” says Dr. Stamper.

The most common causes of noise-induced hearing loss include exposure to loud music, lawn equipment, heavy machinery or power tools, and gunfire.

In most cases, noise-induced hearing loss is permanent and irreversible.

Reducing risk

To reduce the risk for noise-induced hearing loss, Dr. Stamper offers these recommendations:

  • Avoid or limit exposure to excessively loud sounds.
  • Limit volume on headphones, especially for children.
  • Use properly fitting ear protection.
  • Keep ear protection handy. She recommends foam ear inserts as a portable, cost-effective alternative, since they can be stored easily in a pocket, purse or glove compartment for unanticipated exposure.
  • Seek medical attention if there is sudden hearing loss, ongoing ringing or pain in the ear.

When to get a hearing test

For most adults, a preventive hearing screen at age 50 is sufficient. Then, a screening every five to 10 years afterward, based on individual circumstances, is ideal, says Dr. Stamper. Once hearing loss is identified, though, an annual follow-up with an audiologist is recommended.

Watch: Dr. Stamper explains hearing, the types of hearing loss and ways to reduce hearing loss.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Stamper are available in the downloads.

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May 24, 2016 by @cindyweiss · View  

New Immunotherapy Approved for Metastatic Bladder Cancer

a medical imaging view of a bladder before and after treatmentPatients with metastatic bladder cancer have few treatment options after failure of chemotherapy until now.

In early May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the immunological drug Atezolizumab to treat metastatic bladder cancer. The decision came following results of an international, multisite phase II clinical study published in the March 4 edition of the Lancet. Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus was one of the largest sites involved in the study.

Dr. Richard Joseph, a Mayo Clinic oncologist involved in the study, says the drug works by helping the patient’s own immune system fight cancer.

“Bladder cancer is the ninth most common cancer, causing 165,000 deaths worldwide annually,” says Dr. Joseph, whose research is part of the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program within the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.

“Until now, treatment options for patients with metastatic bladder cancer were limited. Chemotherapy has been the only option for these patients, but many people are unable to tolerate the full course of chemotherapy, due to its toxicity. New approaches, such as immunotherapy medications like this, are desperately needed.”

Watch: Dr. Joseph explains the study, how the new drug works and treatment options.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Joseph are in the downloads.

Of the 310 patients involved in the study, 15–20 percent had significant and lasting response, says Dr. Joseph, which is part of what led to the FDA's fast approval.  "The response rates lead us to believe these patients will have very long and durable remissions," he adds.

Tumors can avoid immune system surveillance by expressing genes that turn off the immune system and prevent it from recognizing them. Atezolizumab inhibits one such gene present on the surface of bladder cancer tumor cells, thereby allowing the immune system to recognize and attack the tumor.

Immunotherapy drugs have also recently been approved for melanoma, kidney cancer and lung cancer.

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