Simple Answers to Medical Questions

Surgery & Procedures

What is Dialysis? Artificial Blood Cleansing in Kidney Disease

Dialysis, more correctly known as renal (kidney) dialysis is the process of artificially performing the functions of the kidneys to filter out toxic waste substances and balance the water and electrolyte levels in the blood and other body fluids. Renal dialysis is only considered when end-stage kidney failure reaches a point where the kidneys are unable to perform this function. Usually one kidney can manage with a low level of functioning and a healthy kidney can compensate for even a total failure of the other kidney. In severe cases where both kidneys fail, dialysis is necessary. Sometimes in acute kidney failure, dialysis is needed in the short term until the underlying disease is treated and at least partial kidney function is restored.

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What are the Side Effects of Cancer Treatment?

Several different modalities are utilized in the treatment and manageent of cancer. The major approaches include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, all of which are beneficial to varying degrees in different types and stages of cancer. However, these treatments also have a host of adverse effects which every cancer patient should be aware about. Nevertheless, it should not detract a person with cancer from seeking medical assistance and following the advice of the oncologist.

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What is Radiation Therapy? Radiotherapy for Cancer

Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, is the application of high-energy radiation for therapeutic or palliative use – to treat disease, delay the progression of the disease or provide symptomatic relief.  It is widely used in the treatment of cancer. Radiation is administered in the form of X-rays, gamma rays, or charged particles (like proton, electron) to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

Effect of Radiation on Cancer Cells

How does radiation therapy kill cancer cells?

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by inflicting damage to its genetic material, the DNA. Radiation in the form of proton and neutrons cause direct DNA damage by ionization, while x-rays and gamma rays can damage DNA indirectly, by creating free radicals within the cells. A cell rich in free radical scavengers like glutathione are less affected by x-rays or gamma rays compared to the charged particle based radiation.

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What is PUVA? Psoralen and UVA Treatment for Psoriasis

PUVA is one of the many treatment options for psoriasis using ultraviolet light to reduce skin thickening and sometimes resolve plaques completely. It is not a cure for psoriasis but can be very effective in managing the active stages of this skin disease.

PUVA stands for Psoralen and UVA. It is a form of light therapy, also referred to as photochemotherapy, where the skin reacts to  ultraviolet light due to the presence of psoralens within the skin cells. It has been used in some form or the other for thousands of years by the ancient Indians and Egyptians. UVB or ultraviolet B is also used in the treatment of many skin conditions including psoriasis but with psoralens treatment, it is UVA that is most effective.
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What is Skin Whitening? Skin Lightening & Bleaching Cream

Skin whitening is a term used for lightening the complexion of the skin through artificial means like creams, lotions, soaps and injections. Certain skin diseases like vitiligo causes a ‘skin lightening’ effect due to the lack of the natural skin pigment at the affected area. However with skin whitening applications, the skin is ‘forced’ to prevent its natural skin pigment production and distribution due to the action of pharmacologically active and potentially toxic chemicals.

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