Category Archives: Medicine

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer in Younger Patients

Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer

As a second-generation lead physician at Salerno Medical Associates, Dr. Alexander Salerno strives to improve health outcomes in at-risk communities. Dr. Alexander Salerno also pursues this goal in his role as head of the Urban Healthcare Initiative Program (UHIP), which distributes educational materials on topics such as breast cancer risk.

For women under the age of 50, breast cancer is becoming an increasingly serious risk. Diagnosis rates are increasing among women between the ages of 25 and 39, while diagnoses of women under 50 have reached record levels. Genetic predisposition plays a contributing role for many women, particularly those whose close family members developed breast cancer at a young age. Personal history, including radiation therapy to the chest or a history of breast health issues, may also contribute to a young woman’s increased risk.

Some experts also attribute this shift in age of diagnosis to historic differences in hormonal levels. Studies have shown that birth control use may potentially increase one’s risk of developing breast cancer, and observations suggest that other hormone use could have a similar effect. Toxins in the environment and nutritional deficiencies could be similarly risky, particularly if a young woman has experienced exposure to high levels of parabens or cigarette smoke.


An Introduction to the Shingles Vaccine

Shingles Vaccine pic
Shingles Vaccine

Dr. Alexander Salerno, head physician at Salerno Medical Associates, works to improve overall health outcomes in underserved populations in East Orange, New Jersey. To that end, Dr. Alexander Salerno leads the Community Healthcare Outreach Program (CHOP), which brings integrated care to elderly patients and those with mental health challenges.

Caused by a virus known as varicella zoster, shingles causes a painful blistering rash that typically presents on one side of the patient’s body. The rash lingers for up to three weeks, though some patients experience lingering severe pain for months or years after the disease clears. This condition is known as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) and can be so severe as to cause anxiety, depression, and other disruptions to daily life.

Fortunately, the shingles vaccine has proven effective at reducing the risk of varicella zoster infection by up to 70 percent. Effectiveness is highest for patients in their 50s, although those in their 60s may still enjoy a prevention rate of as much as 55 percent. The vaccine’s effectiveness against PHN is similar at approximately 59 to 67 percent.

The vaccine consists of weakened varicella zoster virus, which prompts the production of antibodies when introduced into the patient’s system. Approved for use in the United States since 2006, it has earned the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control for all individuals over age 60.

Shingles – A Viral Infection with a Recommended Vaccine

Shingles pic

Dr. Alexander Salerno is the lead physician with Salerno Medical Associates and strives to meet the health care needs of patients in New Jersey’s underserved urban neighborhoods. Dr. Alexander Salerno emphasizes patient education and offers a diversity of resources on issues ranging from identifying breast cancer to the safety of shingles vaccines.

Also known as herpes zoster, the viral infection shingles has symptoms that include painful blisters and skin rashes, typically on one side of the torso. The varicella zoster virus is also the cause of chicken pox, a common childhood disease. After chicken pox clears up, it stays dormant in the nerve tissues and can be reactivated when the immune system weakens, either because of age, disease, or stress.

Reactivated, the virus spreads along the skin’s nerve fibers and can linger as chronic pain for months or years, even after rashes subside. For this reason, shingles vaccine is recommended for adults past the age of 50. The vaccine is made up of attenuated varicella virus cells, which cause the body to produce antibodies that fight the infection and future shingles incidences. While not a cure-all, the vaccine does decrease the risk of contracting shingles by 70 percent.

HPV Vaccine Reduces Cervical Cancer and Other Cancer Risks

HPV Vaccine pic
HPV Vaccine

Practicing medicine in northern New Jersey, Dr. Alexander Salerno provides community care to residents of urban neighborhoods. Dr. Alexander Salerno founded the Urban Healthcare Initiative Program, which offers vulnerable members of the community with health care information. He particularly advocates the administration of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to both teenage girls and boys to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and cervical and other cancers.

HPV causes sexually transmitted disease, such as genital warts, as well as vaginal cancer, anal cancer, cervical cancer, and certain forms of oral cancer. The majority of adults contract HPV at some point in their lives, and many times it goes away on its own without symptoms. However, the danger of HPV leading to cancer makes regular pap smear tests and vaccinations advisable.

With many HPV strains in existence, the HPV vaccine is effective against the four main HPV types, which together account for some 70 percent of cervical cancers. The vaccine is effective and safe; the only downside is that it does not help those who already have the infection.

An Overview of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder pic
Seasonal Affective Disorder

Dr. Alexander Salerno leads a health-care practice in East Orange, New Jersey. There, Dr. Alexander Salerno sees patients with a variety of conditions, including mood disorders, such as seasonal affective disorder.

Seasonal affective disorder, also referred to as seasonal depression, occurs when a person experiences negative changes in mood at a certain period of the year, most commonly in the fall and winter months. While the exact cause of seasonal affective disorder is not known, many scientists believe it may be associated with the lower levels of sunlight a person typically is exposed to during the darker months of the year. This may have an effect on serotonin levels, and therefore a person’s overall mood. A person’s hormones also may play a role.

Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder often gradually increase in their severity before they begin to improve, typically in the spring. These symptoms include feeling lethargic, having trouble focusing, and wanting to withdraw from others. The person might experience weight changes and have sleeping difficulties as well. If you feel depressed or have a low mood at certain times of the year, talk to your doctor about seasonal depression. Your doctor may recommend treatment, which might include sunlight exposure, medication, or counseling.

Blood Pressure and Health

Blood Pressure pic
Blood Pressure

Based in East Orange, New Jersey, Dr. Alexander Salerno is the lead physician of a multi-generational office that provides underserved communities with an integrated approach to health care. Dr. Alexander Salerno founded the Senior Healthcare Outreach Program (SHOP), which provides house calls to older residents in the area. Through SHOP, he offers general medical examinations for seniors, including blood pressure evaluations.

Blood pressure is a gauge of one’s overall circulatory system. Patients with high blood pressure have an increased risk of stroke, kidney disease, and heart failure. They also have a higher chance of damage to the arteries, which may lead to a heart attack. Blood pressure generally increases with age, particularly after middle age. A normal blood pressure range is 120/80.

Among older adults, the risk factors for high blood pressure are similar to those in the general population. Individuals at highest risk are those with obesity, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes.