DEAR DR. ROACH: Is there a cure for keloids? My husband is 56 and has several keloids on his body, but there is one on his chest that has gotten considerably larger over the years and causes the most problems. He has experienced pain and discomfort, and it also bleeds at times. My husband would prefer not to have surgery. He was born with a keloid on his ear. At a very young age it was operated on, and it returned larger in size. He has tried numerous types of remedies, but none has prevented the keloid from growing or bleeding. — J.B.
ANSWER: A keloid (from a Greek word meaning “tumor-like”) is a complication of scar tissue. In some people, when the skin heals from a cut or a burn, the healing cells keep growing, creating a variably sized, disfiguring, sometimes painful lesion called a keloid.
The best treatment in people who are predisposed to keloids is to avoid them by avoiding any unnecessary surgery (including ear and other body piercings). Once a keloid has formed, there are several possible treatments. Unfortunately, the longer a keloid has been there, the harder it is to treat.
I have seen great results from silicone gel sheeting. This is particularly effective when used immediately after surgery, but may have some effectiveness on your husband’s chest keloid. Another potentially effective treatment is injection of steroids, which help flatten and shrink keloids up to 75 percent of the time.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I wonder if the PSA reading 0.2 cited in the second-last paragraph of the Oct. 17, 2014, answer to B.D.’s query should, in fact, read 2.0? — L.B.
ANSWER: Thank you for reading closely, but I did mean 0.2. After successful prostate cancer surgery, there should be no normal prostate tissue left, and since PSA levels in people without cancer roughly correlate to amount of prostate, the level should be zero, or very nearly so. A level above 0.2 — which would be a very low level for a man who hasn’t had surgery — is, in a man who had surgery, very likely indicative of recurrence of prostate cancer. It is mandatory to confirm this with a second PSA test.
After radiation treatment for prostate cancer, PSA levels fall slowly for 18 months or so. In some men, the PSA levels rise transiently and then fall (called a “bounce”), but it is impossible to tell when the levels are first rising whether this is a bounce or recurrent cancer.
When the PSA does rise after surgery, indicating recurrence of cancer, it does not necessarily mean that the cancer will be aggressive. In general, the longer the PSA stays low, the slower it rises and the less-aggressive the cancer was pathologically before surgery all predict a more indolent, slow-growing cancer on recurrence. For men with lowest risk for aggressive cancer based on these criteria and rising PSA, 77 percent had no progression of disease at four years after recurrence, whereas 88 percent of men with the least favorable characteristics had progression.
The booklet on the prostate gland discusses enlargement and cancer. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Roach — No. 1001, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have heard that drinking water with your meal is bad for you. Is this true? And if so, why? I have a dry mouth due to cancer treatment and must have water with everything I eat. Is something bad going to happen to me? I am otherwise healthy. — R.G.
ANSWER: It’s not true at all. Water is, generally speaking, the healthiest drink. It is possible to drink too much water, but it’s very hard to do so unless you are taking medications that affect your kidneys or you have excess anti-diuretic hormone, an unusual medical condition. Keep drinking your water.
Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to [email protected] or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Health newsletters may be ordered from www.rbmamall.com.
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