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Prevention and early diagnosis of melanoma: Body mole map

Posted by Xanit Internacional Xanit Internacional | Posted in ALL ABOUT CANCER, dermatology | Posted on 23-10-2017


New advances in technology have always been a powerful medical tool, now one of these, the mole mapping technique, is using digital photography to assist with diagnosis. The mole map covers the patient’s total surface area of the skin enabling doctors to examine and log skin abnormalities (shape, size, location and colour) in detail. Every detail matters, a digital map of the patient’s body is obtained, which is then periodically repeated and stored, enabling dermatologists to analyse and contrast changes in blemishes, moles and other skin lesions, constantly alert to any alterations.

Benefits of body mole mapping

Using the test the dermatologist is able to obtain an accurate and complete map of the skin, he/she can then periodically and systemically review anything which requires particular attention, analysing and contrasting any variations that occur. This is advantageous for the patient since this analysis prevents unnecessary biopsies or excision of benign lesions and, in addition, facilitates the early detection and treatment of malignant lesions or melanomas, offering a higher recovery rate.

This method also makes it easier to discover moles in areas which are difficult for the doctor or patient to see, such as the scalp, behind the ears or on the back, etc.

Am I able to have a body mole map?

If you are wondering whether a mole map is appropriate for you, please note that it is suitable for everyone, but it is particularly indicated for people with atypical skin lesions, multiple moles or a family history of skin cancer. It is a simple and painless test with high quality photographs taken of skin lesions all over the body. The test is repeated after a reasonable amount of time with overlapping of the images to detect any changes, these are subsequently given to our specialists for study and treatment.

A dermatologist is responsible for planning the mole map for each patient. Generally, an annual mole map is recommended, but in some particularly sensitive cases, it may be necessary every 6 or even every 3 months.

You can depend on Vithas Xanit International Hospital’s Dermatology Department to resolve any queries you may have, please request your appointment online.

Computer screens and eyesight

Posted by Xanit Internacional Xanit Internacional | Posted in Ophthalmology | Posted on 23-10-2017


“Don’t get so close to the screen, you’re going to damage your eyes.” This is one of the phrases most repeated by parents when they see the children spending hours and hours in front of a screen.  It used to be a television, now it’s a computer or mobile phone.

With Dr. Cilveti, Head of the Department of Ophthalmology at Vithas Xanit International Hospital we are going to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the effect that continuous exposure to audio-visual devices can have on eyesight.

What damage can be caused by too much time in front of a computer?

Although it has been demonstrated that usage does not result in damage to the retina or the cornea, it does however cause tiredness and a certain amount of visual discomfort. When sight is continuously focused on a screen, blinking frequency is decreased, this in turn can cause dry eyes.

What are your recommendations for those who spend more than 8 hours in front of a computer?

There are people who have to spend long days in front of a screen for work or other reasons. In these cases, a rest for 2-3 minutes every 45 minutes would be an appropriate suggestion.

Regular use of artificial tears is also recommended to help keep eyes comfortable.

What happens to our eyes when focusing on a computer or mobile screen?

Using screens continuously, whether computer, tablet or mobile, causes eye strain, this manifests itself as eye discomfort which can sometimes be accompanied by red or dry eyes or even by generalised symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, etc.

These symptoms can be worse if the user has uncorrected, or poorly corrected refraction defects, abnormal binocular vision or eye movement or if regularly taking psychotropic drugs.

Do symptoms worsen with age?

All symptoms caused by exposure to screens worsen with the passage of time, but not due to the cumulative effect of use of the computer or other device, but because the coping mechanisms of the eye – for example response to dryness or changes in focus – become weaker.

Can too many hours a day in front of the computer result in needing glasses for reading or carrying out other activities?

This is a controversial topic. In general, it appears that computer use, even when excessive, is not capable of generating new refractive problems. However, it appears that it can cause refractive abnormalities to surface, which until that moment the eye had been capable of compensating for. When the refractive defect manifests itself, the patient starts to need eye correction.

This leads on to the topic of so-called, “computer glasses.” These are a type of glasses used to resolve a problem mainly originating from eye strain in computer users during their usual work. It is the result of having to constantly move focus from mid distance at 60-70 cm to near vision of 30 cm.

This repeated change in focus requires the eyeball’s accommodation system to work continuously resulting in so-called eye strain. This process, associated with sustained changes in focus, is especially symptomatic in patients with uncorrected sight defects, latent hypermetropia or in normal sighted patients very close to the age at when presbyopia starts, that is to say in those over the age of 40. In these cases, after an individual assessment of each patient, computer glasses may be beneficial.

Childhood vaccination? A response from the experts

Posted by Xanit Internacional Xanit Internacional | Posted in Pediatrics | Posted on 23-10-2017


Vaccination yes, no…? When? How many? The vaccination process poses many questions for parents. For this reason we are talking to Dr Conejo, Paediatrician at Vithas Xanit International Hospital, who is going to help dispel some of the most common myths surrounding the subject.

Firstly, the big question:

What are vaccines?

To explain: they are biological products given with the objective of producing a controlled immune response, similar to that produced by a natural infection, but with practically no risk. They are therefore a way of providing protection against certain microorganisms in case of future exposure.

It is important to bear in mind that vaccines are not 100% effective; in some cases, depending on the type of vaccine, it is possible to have an infection from a microorganism even after a vaccine has been given. In such cases vaccination usually achieves development of much milder symptoms than if the disease had been caught without prior vaccination.

Why do children have to be vaccinated?

The development of vaccines has made it possible to absolutely control many of the infectious diseases that have been responsible for the greatest mortality throughout history, including measles, chickenpox, diphtheria, rabies, tetanus… Nowadays all these infectious diseases have been relegated to isolated cases, the majority occurring in countries with weak vaccination policies and vaccine coverage. Smallpox is notably an infection which it has been possible to completely eradicate from the planet. Others, such as poliomyelitis, are now also very close to being eradicated.

It is known that there are many viruses which are strongly implicated in some types of cancer, therefore vaccination against these can protect against the development of associated tumours. For example the hepatitis B virus is related to the development of liver cancer, and the human papilloma virus is related to many cervical, penile, anal and ENT cancers.

Additionally the protective effect of the vaccine can extend to unvaccinated people as a result of the decreased circulation of the microorganism amongst the vaccinated population. This is known as community or herd immunity, and can benefit individuals who cannot be vaccinated directly due to specific circumstances.

Do vaccines have side effects?

As with all biological or pharmaceutical products, vaccines can have adverse effects, however they are generally mild and well tolerated, on very rare occasions they can be serious.

The most common are pain and swelling at the site where the vaccine has been given. Systemic adverse reactions are much less frequent and are often milder. Amongst the most common are general malaise, anorexia (loss of appetite) and fever.

When should I vaccinate my child?

There are different established vaccination schedules which clearly specify the ideal ages for the administration of each vaccine. The most comprehensive calendar in our country is that developed annually by the Spanish Paediatric Association’s Vaccine Advisory Committee.

However, in practice the calendar which is applied and funded throughout Spain, and recommended by the different Spanish autonomous communities, is based on the schedule presented by the Interterritorial Council.  Both schedules, that of the Advisory Committee (ideal) and of the Interterritorial Council (financed), have become increasingly similar thanks to a great joint effort in recent years, although there are still some vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee which are not recognised in official schedules.

Is there any reason not to vaccinate my child?

Vaccines, like other medical products, have permanent, absolute contraindications to their administration in some people. However there are only two absolute contraindications: allergy to any of the vaccine components (or anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose) and encephalopathy of unknown origin, developed in the 7 days following administration of any vaccine with a whooping cough component. In this last case, the contraindication only affects vaccines with the whooping cough component, all other vaccines can be given as usual.

There are also some temporary contraindications which mean the vaccine should not be given during a determined period of time, although it can be given once the situation in question has been resolved. Included in this temporary group are pregnancy and temporary immunosuppression in the case of live attenuated vaccines. There is also a contraindication in those suffering from moderate or serious intercurrent illness. Mild illnesses such as common colds, mild bronchitis or low grade febrile illnesses, viral in origin, do not constitute a contraindication to the administration of any vaccine, therefore vaccination should not be delayed in respect to the established schedule.

What happens if vaccination is delayed?

Except for a few, specific vaccines which are given under exceptional circumstances, there is no maximum interval for the different doses of the same vaccine, applying the general principle that if a dose has been given the dose is counted. According to the age of the patient and the type of vaccine, vaccination should be completed with a determined number of doses, the doses administered should always be considered as such under any circumstances.

However, the recommended intervals between vaccines should be adhered to whenever possible, having been well researched.

Any special measures for premature babies?

Premature children are especially vulnerable to infection as a consequence of their immature immune system, therefore optimisation of vaccination in this population is of paramount importance.

As a general rule, the same vaccines should be administered and with the same prescription as for full-term infants, always taking into account the chronological age and not the corrected age of the child. The only exception is Hepatitis B vaccination in children under 2000 g born to a mother with Hepatitis B, these babies need to have an extra dose of the vaccine during the first 12 hours of life, together with the specific immunoglobulin, with the objective of preventing the infection.

With regard to vaccines not included in the funded schedule, the rotavirus vaccine particularly is recommended (from 25 weeks of gestational age) and the influenza vaccination from 6 months of chronological age.