Mayo Clinic Q&A

From complex or serious conditions like cancer and heart disease to the latest news on research and wellness, host Dr. Halena Gazelka asks the questions and gets easy-to-understand answers from Mayo Clinic experts

Most Recent Episodes

a medical illustration of bladder cancer

Bladder cancer patients require ongoing surveillance
May 17, 2021

Bladder cancer is a common type of cancer that begins in the cells of the bladder, a hollow muscular organ in the lower abdomen that stores urine. Bladder cancer signs and symptoms can include blood in the urine, frequent or painful urination, and back pain. 

"The vast majority of bladder cancer patients are diagnosed with cancer that's not imminently life-threatening, but they tend to be aggressive," says Dr. Mark Tyson II, a Mayo Clinic urologic surgeon. "So bladder cancers, even if they're not life-threatening when they're first diagnosed, tend to recur."

For this reason, people with bladder cancer typically need follow-up tests for years after treatment to look for recurrence of their cancer. 

May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. On this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Tyson discusses bladder cancer diagnosis, staging and treatment.

Addressing equity in clinical trials
May 14, 2021

Like many organizations, Mayo Clinic is working to address disparities and equity in health care. This work is important not only in the clinic setting, but also in addressing equity issues in medical research and clinical trials. 

Clinical trials are research studies used to determine whether an intervention, such as a drug, device or other therapy, is safe and effective for people. People in racial and ethnic minority groups are underrepresented in clinical trials. 

"That's a real concern and a real issue because you want to make sure that the results of the clinical trial are applicable to the whole population," says Dr. Gerardo Colon-Otero, a Mayo Clinic oncologist and medical director for the Center for Health Equity and Community Engagement Research at Mayo Clinic in Florida. 

While efforts are underway at Mayo Clinic to promote inclusive participation in clinical trials for all populations, Sonya Goins, a Mayo Clinic patient who has participated in clinical trials, says that more work needs to be done to reach members of underserved groups and help them understand the benefits of participating in clinical trials. 

"Firstly, when it comes to diverse communities, people need to be aware that these studies are out there, and that they give you hope," says Goins. "That's the reason why I do them. It's because they give me hope."

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Colon-Otero and Goins join host Dr. Halena Gazelka for a conversation about equity in research and clinical trials.

Real-world effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines
May 12, 2022

Children 12–15 are now eligible to receive Pfizer's COVID-19vaccine, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use approval. 

And there is other COVID-19 news.

"This is the first week we have not had an increase in COVID-19 cases in any U.S. state, and in 33 of those states, there was a decrease last week," says Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group. "This has not happened on any consistent basis for every U.S. state since the start of this pandemic." 

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland discusses the real-world effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines and the approval process for these vaccines, and he answers a number of listener questions.

a middle aged Asian woman sitting on a couch near a window with her hand on her chest looking worried, sad, perhaps in pain

Know the warning signs of stroke
May 10, 2021

On average, someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted, depriving the brain of oxygen. It's important to recognize the warning signs of stroke, because prompt treatment can minimize brain damage. Every moment is crucial. 

"Strokes commonly occur in people of all ages," says Dr. Robert Brown, Jr., chair of Mayo Clinic's Division of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases. "And, so, it's very important that people know what is a stroke, what are the symptoms and what are the risk factors for stroke?" 

May is National stroke Awareness Month. In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Brown explains the importance of remembering the F.A.S.T. acronym to recognize a stroke: face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, time to call 911.

A young white teenage boy resting his head on his hands, looking out a window and seeming sad, thoughtful, depressed, serious

Signs of depression in teens and how to help
May 7, 2021

Depression is a serious mental health problem that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities. Although depression can occur at any time in life, symptoms may differ between teens and adults. 

Issues such as peer pressure, academic expectations and changing bodies can bring a lot of ups and downs for teens. But for some teens, the lows are more than just temporary feelings. They are a symptom of depression. 

Treatment for depression depends on the type and severity of the symptoms. A combination of talk therapy and medication can be effective for most teens with depression.

Friday, May 7, is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. The goal is to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and highlight how positive mental health is essential to development for children and adolescents. 

This edition of the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast features an #AskMayoMom episode hosted by Dr. Angela Mattke, a pediatrician at Mayo Clinic Children's Center. Joining Dr. Mattke to discuss teens and depression are Dr. Paige Partain, a Mayo Clinic pediatrician, and Hannah Mulholland, a Mayo Clinic pediatric social worker.

a Mayo Clinic in Florida nurse, a Black woman in PPE administering a COVID-19 vaccine to a Mayo employee, perhaps a Latina woman in a black jacket getting her vaccination

Ramping up COVID-19 vaccination rate in race against virus
May 5, 2021

COVID-19 cases are falling in the U.S. because 245 million doses of one of the available COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, according to Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group. "But at the same time, there are still people who need more information about the safety and the value of getting a COVID-19 vaccine," says Dr. Poland.

While still hopeful, Dr. Poland says he's concerned herd immunity won't be reached in the U.S. through vaccination. And that will mean more tragic deaths due to COVID-19 infection. 

"My guess is, because we're such an interconnected global community until everybody's safe, none of us are safe. And we're going to likely see continued circulation of the virus, and that virus will seek out whoever is not immune," says Dr. Poland.

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland also addresses when we will need COVID-19 vaccine boosters will be needed and the latest on masking guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Plus, he will provide an update on COVID-19 treatments and how to handle those who want to visit a newborn baby.

brain tumor surgery with surgeon's in the operating room looking a radiology Xray images of a person's head

Brain Tumor Awareness Month
May 3, 2021

Primary brain tumors originate in the brain or tissues close to the brain, such as in brain-covering membranes, cranial nerves, or the pituitary or pineal glands. There are many types of primary brain tumors, and over 84,000 people will receive a primary brain tumor diagnosis in 2021, according to the National Brain Tumor Society. The median age for these diagnoses is 60.  

The most common cancerous, or malignant, brain tumor is the glioblastoma, a type of glioma that begins in the brain or spinal cord. The most common primary noncancerous, or benign, brain tumor is the meningioma, which arises from the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.

May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month. On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Alyx Porter, co-chair of the Central Nervous System Tumor Disease Group at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, discusses the various types of brain tumors and how they are diagnosed and treated.

a young couple sitting on a couch or bed with a blanket, comforting each other, perhaps after the woman has had chemotherapy treatment for cancer.

Breast cancer radiotherapy and treatment innovations
April 30, 2021

The type of breast cancer a person has and how far it has spread determine the appropriate treatment. Previously, a patient with breast cancer might have received five to six weeks of radiation therapy.

But the approach is changing.

"For many years, we had the understanding that giving a little bit of radiation each day, and spreading that treatment out over multiple weeks was the gentlest on the normal tissues, and that would lead to the least side effects," says Dr. Robert Mutter, a Mayo Clinic radiation oncologist. "But over the last decade, or two, there's been a lot of research. We found we might be better off giving bigger doses each day and finishing in a shorter period of time. And that might be better at destroying the cancer cells, while limiting sides effects of the normal tissue."

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Mutter expands on the research at Mayo Clinic's research and the development of new therapies to minimize patient side effects from radiation, including the increased use of proton therapy. Dr. Mutter also talks about the patient concerns about relapses and how Mayo is using medicines in combination with radiation to reduce relapse risks.

COVID-19 vaccine confidence and the importance of that second dose
April 28, 2021

While the number of people being vaccinated for COVID-19 is dropping, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other medical experts continue to strongly encourage people to get vaccinated for COVID-19. And that means that those who are being vaccinated with the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine should get their first and second doses on schedule.

“About 8% of people who got their first dose have not returned for the second dose and this is concerning when you're getting close to 1 in 10," says Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group. "When you measure in the short term, one dose in a healthy person offers about 80% protection. But that's not 95% protection, like you get after two doses."

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland expands on why people need that second COVID-19 vaccine dose and he talks about whether people should mix and match the different COVID-19 vaccines for their second dose. He also speaks about the status of COVID-19 vaccines for young people, and he addresses listener questions about traveling, being together after vaccination, and the latest rise of additional COVID-19 variants.

Reducing rejection by reversing order of heart-liver transplant
April 27, 2021

For heart-liver transplants, the liver and heart must come from the same donor, and some patients wait years to receive both organs. Also, antibodies from the donor can increase chances of the receiving patient rejecting the heart.

But Dr. Sudhir Kushwaha, a Mayo Clinic cardiovascular transplant surgeon, says when a liver transplant is also involved, it sort of gives the heart protection. Now, he says, Mayo is introducing an innovative approach by transplanting the liver before the heart.

"When we looked back, at our experience with our combined heart-liver patients, we made the observation that those patients really have zero rejection," says Dr. Kushwaha. "With that in mind, we thought, well, what's going on here? There must be some biological process."

“The antibodies seem to bind in the liver in a way that doesn't harm it — the same as it does in other organs — and it really does sort of sponge up the antibodies against that specific donor,” says Dr. Richard Daly, a Mayo Clinic cardiovascular transplant surgeon.

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Drs. Kushwaha and Daly discuss in detail this reverse transplant protocol and the research learning process of the past decade. They also discuss why some patients need this double organ transplant and they describe how the surgeries are closely choreographed with Mayo Clinic's liver transplant teams.