The facts about incontinence, colon cancer and fair skin
Q. Are there different forms of urinary incontinence?
There are several types of urinary incontinence:
• If urine leaks when you sneeze, cough, laugh or put pressure on the bladder in other ways, you have stress incontinence.
• When you can't hold urine, you have urge incontinence.
• When small amounts of urine leak from a bladder that is always full, you have overflow incontinence.
• Many seniors who have normal bladder control but have difficulty getting to the bathroom in time, have functional incontinence.
There are many ways to treat urinary incontinence. You can train your bladder with exercises and biofeedback. You can also chart your urination and then empty your bladder before you might leak.
Your doctor has other tools he can use. There are urethral plugs and vaginal inserts for women with stress incontinence. For men, there are medicines that relax muscles, helping the bladder to empty more fully during urination. Others tighten muscles in the bladder and urethra to cut down leakage.
Surgery can improve or cure incontinence if it is caused by a problem such as a change in the position of the bladder or blockage due to an enlarged prostate.
Q. Who is at risk of getting colon cancer?
Colorectal cancer cancer of the colon or rectum is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States. Early detection of colon cancer is especially important because, if it is found in its early stages, it can be cured nine out of 10 times.
The chances of getting it increase with age. But other risk factors include polyps, your history, diet and whether you've had ulcerative colitis.
Polyps are benign growths on the inner wall of the colon and rectum. Not all polyps become cancerous, but nearly all colon cancers start as polyps.
Colorectal cancer seems to run in families. And, someone who has already had colorectal cancer may develop this disease a second time. So greater vigilance is a good idea if you or your relatives have had it.
This form of cancer is more likely among people on a diet high in fat, protein, calories, alcohol, and both red and white meat. Low-fat, high-fiber diets seem better for the colon.
Ulcerative colitis is a condition in which there is a chronic break in the lining of the colon. Having this condition increases a person's chance of developing colorectal cancer.
Q. Fair skin runs in my family, so we are all vigilant about checking for dangerous moles. But older people tend to have lots of little things growing on their skin. What are some of the harmless growths?
The following are some common and benign growths you may find on your body:
• Keratoses. Seborrheic keratoses are brown or black raised spots, or wart-like growths that appear to be stuck to the skin. Actinic keratoses are thick, warty, rough, reddish growths. While these are harmless, they may be a precursor to skin cancer.
• Liver spots. The official name for liver or age spots is "lentigines" from the Latin for "lentil." These are flat, brown with rounded edges and are larger than freckles.
• Cherry angiomas. These are small, bright-red raised bumps created by dilated blood vessels. They occur in more than 85 percent of seniors, usually on the trunk.
• Skin tags. These are bits of skin that project outward. They may be smooth or irregular, flesh colored or more deeply pigmented. They can either be raised above the surrounding skin or have a stalk so that the tag hangs from the skin.
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