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(Non) Smoke Signals
The number of teenagers who take up smoking are declining but the number of American adults who smoke is holding strong. With that and other information in hand, about 2,000 professionals, organization representatives and others dedicated to improving public health will chart a course toward eliminating smoking during the 2001 National Conference on Tobacco Or Health.

The three-day conference starts Nov. 27 at the Marriott Hotel. More than 150 sessions are scheduled to examine every aspect of tobacco consumption and forge a plan for the future. Topics include state programs, environmental tobacco smoke, researching tobacco industry doucments, ways to counter the product marketing of tobacco companies.

Physicians have long touted cigarette smoking as one of the biggest preventable causes of disease and death in the United States. Young people have responded to anti-smoking and education campaigns and higher tobacco prices, with the number of teenagers who begin smoking each day falling by almost 9,000 between 1997 and 1999, statistics from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse shows. U.S. adults, who smoke dropped only minimally over a longer period of time: from 25 percent in 1993 to 23.5 percent in 1999, according to a study published last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Another major issue on the convention agenda is implementation of strong state tobacco control programs funded through the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement of $206 billion between tobacco companies and state attorneys general. Other topics include determining how to eliminate disparities concerning tobacco issues among population groups.

For more information or to register, call (301) 294-5864; visit www.tobaccocontrolconference.org; or email registrar@feddata.com.

It Really Works!
For decades doctors have recommended and patients have tried a plethora of commercial and home-rigged covers for casts covering broken bones and bandages covering wounds in order to bathe and shower. Such injuries also have spoiled many a summer for those who were forbidden to get near water until their wounds healed.

There's finally a waterproof cover, XeroSox Pro-Pump, that uses a small, built-in hand pump to gently and comfortably vacuum seal itself to the area that needs to be protected. To remove the cover, simply slip a finger in the top to break the suction and peel it off. The bright blue covers come in styles for arms and legs (the latter include skid-resistant soles) and sizes ranging from extra-small, which fits a 2-year-old, to extra-large, which accommodates people up to 6 1/2 feet tall. Prices range from $29 to $39.

The product, manufactured by North Carolina-based George Medical USA in North Carolina, was introduced to the local market in late October at the Medtrade convention, the largest annual event for the home healthcare industry, held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Developed by a surgeon, XeroSox can be helpful to patients with prosthesis, a cast over a broken bone or a serious wound or burn that requires sterile, dry bandages. Most doctors currently recommend commercial covers, which heretofore have had mixed reviews in terms of effectiveness and ease of use; such home-devised contraptions as garbage bags and tape; or, more commonly, abstention from showering, swimming, hydrotherapy and other activities because of a high risk of infection caused by getting the wound and dressings wet.

For more information about the product and where to obtain it, call 888-XEROSOX or log on to www.xerosox.com.

Look Your Best
Patients undergoing cancer treatment often undergo physical changes; to soften the effect of those changes, Ochsner Clinic and Hospital is offering a workshop for people looking for cosmetic remedies.

The workshop, Look Good, Feel Better, is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 26 at Ochsner Foundation Hospital (1514 Jefferson Hwy.) to provide cosmetic advice and suggestions to patients. Reservations are required. Call 842-6406 for information.

Cutting-edge technology, integrated services and a goal of cutting the diagnosis time for breast cancer are the cornerstones of the Ochsner Clinic Foundation's new Lieselotte Tansey Breast Cancer Center (1317 Jefferson Hwy., 842-4000; www.ochsner.org).

The 15,000-square-foot facility, which opened Oct. 25 across the highway from Ochsner Foundation Hospital, houses both radiologists and surgeons under one roof to facilitate diagnosis, options and treatment plans. Ochsner also boasts that the new breast health center is the only one in the area of offer digital mammography, which provides physicians and radiologists with additional diagnostic tools.

Breast cancer affects one out of every eight women in the United States and nationally it takes about 28 days to diagnose the disease. The Lieselotte Tansey center, however, has a goal of cutting the diagnosis time to only five days. Dr. Alan Stolier, medical director of the new center, says the mission comes as a result of recognizing that the time between recognizing an abnormality in the breast and receiving conclusive pathology results is extremely stressful. In addition, when discovered and treated early enough, breast cancer can be cured, he says. To that end, radiologists who specialize in breast imaging will be housed along with surgeons who specialize in diseases and cancer of the breast. Because of this uncommon union, test results can be reviewed by the treating doctors and consultations will be facilitated much more quickly, again helping to shrink diagnosis time.

In addition to digital mammography, the breast care center offers the state's first Computer Aided Detection Unit (CAD), which does a second-reading scan on mammograms to point out potential problem areas that radiologists should examine further.

Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and other treatments occur at Ochsner Hospital and Clinic, and physicians at the Lieselotte Tansey center work in tandem with the Ochsner Cancer Institute. The breast care facility also offers education and support programs such as breast prosthesis fitting services, breast cancer support groups for patients and families, an education resource center, and risk assessment clinics.

Cutting Edge
Surgeryplex, which has operated in Jefferson Parish since 1985, has opened a new outpatient surgery center in the heart of Metairie's medical corridor.

The 15,000-square foot facility at 3717 Houma Blvd. opened Oct. 17 and offers a range of surgery procedures that don't require hospitalization.

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