Ovarian Cancer: Genetics, Diagnosis and Treatment

Ovarian cancer is sometimes known as the silent killer. Because the symptoms can be vague, less than 20% of women are diagnosed early.

Ovarian cancer is an abnormality on the cells on the surface of the ovary. There are several different types, and after they develop on the surface of the ovary, they can spread to other areas in the abdomen. It normally develops in older women who have already gone through menopause, although women of all ages could have it.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be vague, which is why it’s important for you primary care physician to be aware and on the lookout for them during your annual exam. Less than 20% of women are diagnosed early, which is why survival rates are much lower than other cancers that affect women.

-gastrointestinal issues
-abdominal discomfort

In this video, Dr. Daniel Donato explains the types of ovarian cancer, symptoms to look for, testing methods and what happens after diagnosis.

Genetics can play a role in ovarian and breast cancer, and a genetic predisposition is something that doctors worry about when a younger woman in her 30s or 40s is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The genetic linkage occurs on the BRC gene. In families that have a high-risk, doctors will screen the first known person in the family that had the cancer to see if they are a carrier of the gene. If that test is positive, then it would be recommended that all of the females in the family be tested also.

Once that genetic trait is discovered, there is about a 50% chance that the offspring will also have the gene, which for a young women gives them about an 80% chance of developing breast cancer.

In this video, Dr. Donato explains how doctors test for the BRC gene, and what a woman with a high-risk can do for prevention.

For more information about ovarian cancer and prevention, please visit http://www.rosemed.com/conditions_we_treat/cancer_care/

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The story of Patricia J. Skolnik and Michael Skolnik ― lessons to protect yourself or a loved one from medical errors

Medical errors and the tragedy that can follow them is something that Patricia “Patty” and David Skolnik have faced personally.

Patty is the founder and director of Citizens for Patient Safety (CPS), a non-profit global grassroots organization working to create transparency between consumers, the medical community, insurance companies and the legal community ― to improve the healthcare system and quality of care that patient’s receive. CPS was founded after Sept. 21, 2001, when Patty’s only child, Michael Skolnik, underwent unnecessary brain surgery at the age of 22 that ultimately led to his death three years later.

Today Patty has taken her personal grief and tragedy to spearhead efforts that are bringing positive change in healthcare, legislation and society. Patty’s lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill brought about a change in patient safety legislation, including the Michael Skolnik Medical Transparency Act (Michael’s Law) that brings to light, crucial physician information, such as disciplinary actions and malpractice information, which was passed into law by Governor Bill Ritter in 2007.

Patty conducts seminars all across United States, educating patients, family members and loved ones, enabling them to better navigate our health care and justice systems and become a patient advocate. An effective advocate is someone you trust, who is willing to act on your behalf, and is someone who can work well with your doctors, nurses and other members of your healthcare team.

At Rose Medical Center our mission states that “Foremost in our hearts and minds is the commitment to our patients. Therefore, we assume responsibility for everything that affects their care”.  At Rose we are committed to patient safety, and part of that is ensuring that our patients can advocate for themselves, or if they are unable to, that they have someone who can serve as their advocate. Rose is proud to host a Free Patient Advocacy Session by Patty on Saturday, March 5. 

As a preview to all the valuable information covered by Patty, here are a few tips on preventing medicals errors by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. 

1) Make sure that all of your doctors know about everything you are taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbs.

2) When your doctor writes you a prescription, make sure you can read it.

3) Ask for written information about the side effects your medicine could cause.

4) Make sure your doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to medicines.

5) Ask for information about your medicines in terms you can understand– both when your medicines are prescribed and when you receive them.               

For more information about tips on preventing medical errors in adults and children, and what you need to know when having surgery, please join us for the free seminar on March 5.

Venue:    Rose Medical Center – Physician Office Building II
                4500 E. 9th Ave. Denver, CO 80220
                Goodstein 1 & 2 (Ground Floor)

Date:       Saturday, March 5

Time:      10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

RSVP:     Call Breanna Sakis at 303-320-2579 or email her at Breanna.Sakis@HealthONEcares.com

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Rapid Response: Cardiac Alert and Heart Attacks

a heart attack occurs about every 20 seconds, with a death about every minute

If you are having a heart attack, every second is important for survival. For each minute that the heart is deprived of blood and oxygen, more muscle tissue dies.

In fact, about 1.5 million heart attacks occur yearly in the United States, and 500,000 of those end in deaths, which is why calling for help and getting treated immediately after noticing heart attack symptoms is so important.

HealthOne and local EMS providers teamed up over a decade ago to create the Cardiac Alert system, which has since been replicated at hospitals around the country, and is recognized as a standard of care by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.

What is Cardiac Alert? Simply put, it’s fast communication between the Emergency Medical Service providers (paramedics, EMTs,  etc) when they arrive to help someone having a heart attack and the hospital the patient is being taken to.

In this video, Dr. Don Lefkowits, Medical Director of the Rose Medical Center Emergency Department explains how the cardiac alert system works, and how it helps save lives.

With Cardiac Alert, once the hospital receives word from dispatchers that someone is coming into the ER with a heart attack, the team is ready for when the patient arrives. This usually consists of a cardiologist and members from the cardiac cath lab team.

This team of doctors is waiting with an EKG, IV’s and medication, so that they can get to work on saving the patient’s life as soon as they reach the hospital. The goal is always to get the patient up to the cardiac cath lab in 15 minutes or less. Once the patient is in the cath lab, doctors open up the blocked blood vessel to allow blood to start pumping into the heart again.

This process is referred to as Door-to-Balloon time and the time is counted from the moment the patient enters the ER to when the catheter is inserted into the blocked artery to start blood flow.

The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association guidelines are that door-to-balloon times are 90 minutes or less. At Rose, our times our under 60 minutes.

Fast response times, especially with the Rose Cardiac Alert System, can be the difference between life or death.

Read about how Cardiac Alert saved one patient, who was honored last year at our Great Save Celebration for EMS Appreciation Week.

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9 Reasons To Go To the Emergency Room

Sometimes, knowing you need to go to the emergency room is a no-brainer (or, you don’t really have a choice). You may have a broken bone, or be having a heart attack. But for a lot of cases, deciding to go to the emergency room isn’t so easy.

How do you decide if that stomach pain is worth a trip to the hospital, or if you should just wait it out? If you slip and fall, should you go to the ER for it? The truth is that there is no black-and-white checklist of symptoms that merit a trip to the emergency department.

However, there are certain guidelines that you can follow to help determine if the trip is necessary. And remember, if you are in doubt, you can always call your primary physician to ask for their advice.

In this video, Dr. Don Lefkowits, Medical Director of the Rose Medical Center Emergency Department, explains nine common illnesses and injuries that need medical attention and a trip to the ER.


1. Feeling any pain or pressure in the chest
2. Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
3. injuries
4. lacerations with uncontrollable bleeding
5. falls where there may be a head injury
6. abdominal pain that doesn’t go away after 3-4 hours
7. confusion, trouble thinking clearly, or a change in mental awareness
8. high fevers that can’t be controlled by fever medication
9. nausea, vomiting, diahhrea

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Surviving Well: Kathy, Ovarian Cancer Survivor

Kathy McGovern, a Denver native and music teacher, had a history with ovarian cancer even before she was diagnosed. It was the disease that killed her mother in 1985.

 “With the history of ovarian cancer in my family, I have always been very vigilant and watched for the disease very carefully,“  says Kathy.

Kathy normally went in for her annual exam each November, but in 2003 she had to miss the appointment. By January she had begun to feel really tired. Her doctor diagnosed her with depression and gave her antidepressants.

“I didn’t have any of the usual symptoms of ovarian cancer that I was normally on the lookout for,” said Kathy. “I didn’t have a bloated belly, which was a sign for my mother, I didn’t have back pain, I didn’t have bladder changed. I only had this terrible fatigue.”

Kathy was flipping through an ovarian cancer newsletter when she saw fatigue and nausea listed as ovarian cancer symptoms. She immediately called the doctor to set up an ultrasound, which showed a 10-centimeter mass.

 “I was shocked,” Kathy said. “In the span of a little over a year, this huge mass developed. Once we found that, my doctor referred me to a cancer specialist, Dr. Daniel Donato. By the time I had surgery, 10 days later, I was already starting to have other symptoms.”

The first step was to have a total hysterectomy, so that Dr. Donato could determine if the mass was malignant, and, if so, how far along the cancer had spread.

“I remember being on the operating table and I was about to be put under anesthetic,” Kathy said. “I was lying there, and one of the nurses said to me that she was in my music class years ago. The last thing I remember before being put under is her telling me, ‘I’ve loved music every day because of you.’ That was a beautiful thing to hear right before surgery.”

After the surgery, Kathy was diagnosed with Stage 2 ovarian cancer.

“When I first found out, I was shocked and terrified. I had watched my mother die of the same cancer. I had watched for the disease. I was vigilant. And yet, it snuck up on me like a thief in the night. While I was waiting for the diagnosis, I knew. I knew in the way that we know things that we can’t know.”

Kathy began chemotherapy treatments and says the hardest part of treatment was the fatigue that came afterward.

Kathy says that beating ovarian cancer gave her lasting gratitude, and an appreciation towards the big and small.

“Over the holiday weekend, I was sitting with my friends and family and I just looked around at everyone and said, ‘I just cannot believe how blessed I am to be alive. Our time is short, and I’ve learned to appreciate everything in my life.”

The Rose “Surviving Well” Calendar is a 15-month calendar highlighting our cancer services, physicians, and some inspirational stories from our patients. Kathy is our survivor for February, which is also Cancer Prevention Month. Click here to sign up to receive your FREE copy of the calendar.

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Super Healthy Snacks for Super Bowl Sunday

Did you know that one of the top-selling days for snack food is Super Bowl Sunday?

Whether you’re watching the game for the actual game, or for the commercials, no Super Bowl is complete without a great array of snacks to munch on.

Unfortunately, game day food isn’t always the healthiest. From fried chicken wings to greasy pizza to calorie-laden chips and dip, the Super Bowl can be torture for those of us who are watching what we eat.

However, this doesn’t have to be the case.

There are plenty of delicious (and healthy) snack food recipes. Bring any of these to a party and not only will your friends be raving about your cooking prowess, but they’ll be thanking you on Monday when they step on the scale!


fresh herbs add flavor, so you can use less salt


6 roma tomatoes (or 3 large regular tomatoes)
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic cloved, finely minced
2 serrano or jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
3 Tbs cilantro, chopped
1/8 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
½ avocado, diced
Juice of 1 lime

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a glass bowl.
2. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve within 4 to 5 hours. 
Makes 2 servings
Serving size ½ cup
42 calories per serving


grilled chicken is healthier than breaded and fried


1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup barbecue sauce or light ranch dressing
1/2 lbs chicken breast tenders

1. Prepare indoor or outdoor grill
2. In a small bowl mix together chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and salt
3. Place chicken tenders on a plate and coat with 2 teaspoons canola oil
4. Rub tenders with spice mixture
5. Grill chicken tenders for 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through
6. Serve with barbecue sauce or light ranch dressing

Makes 2 servings
Serving size ½ recipe
192 calories


Using leaner meat cuts down on fat


1 lb 90% reduced fat ground beef
1 small white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes with added puree
1 (16 oz) can kidney beans drained
3 tbs cumin
2 tbs chili powder
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup light sour cream
¼ reduced-fat grated cheddar cheese
1. In a pan, brown the beef over medium heat, breaking with a wooden spoon or spatula until cooked through
2. Stir in onion, pepper and garlic. Cook 3-4 minutes, until vegetables are slightly softened
3. Pour browned beef and vegetables into a large pot over medium heat.
4. Add tomatoes and beans to the pot. Stir in cumin, chili powder, oregano and salt
5. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes or more, until the chili reaches desired thickness
6. Top each bowl of chili with 1 tbs sour cream and 1 tbs cheese

Makes 4 servings
372 calories


substitute applesauce for butter to save fat calories

1/2 cup applesauce
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs (1 whole and 1 egg white)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp hot water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine applesauce, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth
3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla
4. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt.
5. Stir in flour, chocolate chips and nuts.
6. Drop by large spoonfuls onto an ungreased pan
7. Bake for about 10 minutes or until edges are nicely browned

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Coping with the cold: what to do in freezing weather conditions

It’s cold Denver, and temperatures today are only expected to be the single digits before we start to finally warm up the rest of the week.

Even in regular cold weather, it doesn’t take long before your body starts reacting and exhibiting very early signs of hypothermia. In fact, it can take as little as 30 minutes, even while wearing layers. 

This man could be in serious medical trouble very quickly. Can you tell why?

First, you start shivering, develop a faster heartbeat, breathing harder and your fingers and toes start to go numb. You may experience confusion, and a lack of coordination. In freezing temperatures (teens, single digits, and below zero) these reactions happen even quicker and the risk for hypothermia or frostbite is even higher.

To learn more about the warning signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite click here

Although the best thing that you can do in this type of weather is stay indoors and where it’s warm, odds are you still will have to brave the outdoors at some point. If you do, make sure to follow these tips.

  • Wear several layers of clothes
  • Make sure your outerlayer of clothing is tightly woven, to protect against wind
  • Cover all exposed areas (head, hands, etc) with gloves, mittens, hats and scarves
  • Make sure your footwear is waterproof and insulated
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing, as it can
  • Avoid sitting if possible (like at the bus stop). Standing and moving around, even a little bit, helps generate heat in your body
  • If you have heart or blood pressure problems, avoid strenous outdoor activity, like shoveling
  • If you’re going to be sweating, avoid wearing cotton as a first layer, as it will absorb and retain the moisture

If you are concerned that you or someone you know has hypothermia or frostbite, please contact your medical professional immediately!

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Surviving Well, April, Cervical Cancer Survivor

In January 2010, April began to notice that things weren’t quite right with her body. She had a persistent cough, couldn’t get over colds and suffered from fatigue. It was also about this time that she noticed a change in her menstrual cycle. The bleeding was lighter and seemed to be watery.

“At first, I thought it was just my body going through changes after having children,” April said. “But then I started bleeding heavily and having lower back pain.”

April’s doctor sent her to the nearby women’s health clinic where the results of her pap smear came back abnormal. April had a biopsy and a CT Scan, which showed a suspicious lymph node.

“I was in denial,” April said. “My biggest concern was getting it taken care of and getting better as quickly as possible. Being a single mom, I was really worried about my kids.”

The doctors at her clinic recommended a full hysterectomy by gynecological cancer specialist Dr. Daniel Donato at Rose Medical Center.

“We made all of the arrangements, got down there, and Dr. Donato delayed my surgery, because he wanted to look at other treatment options,” April says. “To find out it was going to take longer was scary, but I’m thankful that Dr. Donato was looking out for my best interests and the best procedures.”

A day later, Dr. Donato told April that after further examination, the tumor didn’t require her to have a full hysterectomy.

So instead of a hysterectomy, April had six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, with an additional four rounds of radiation at Rose Medical Center.

“It was the nurses there that really helped me through the last steps of my treatment,” April said. “They were so encouraging.”

April finished her treatments in June 2010. For now, she sees her doctor every three months and they monitor closely. In the mean time, April is working on getting back to normal.

“The one thing I wish I’d done differently is take more time to take care of myself,” April says. “Being a single mom, my children and their care always came first. I forgot about myself.”

April and her kids

The Rose “Surviving Well” Calendar is a 15-month calendar highlighting our cancer services, physicians, and some inspirational stories from our patients. Andrew is our survivor for December 2010. Click here to sign up to receive your FREE copy of the calendar.

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Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Surviving Well

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that develops from malignancies in white blood cells. In all diagnosed cancers, Non-Hodgkin’s only makes up about 5% of cancer patients. While this disease isn’t rare, it’s also not as prevalent as other cancers, like lung cancer or breast cancer.

In this video, oncologist Dr. Alan Feiner from the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center at Rose explains what Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is, what the symptoms are, how it is diagnosed and how it is treated.

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Season’s Greetings from Rose Medical Center

Rose Medical has had many blessings to be grateful for this year. Some came in the form of a smile of support from a loyal patient or a kind word from a member of the community. Others came in the camaraderie amongst our staff, volunteers and physicians. And yet others came in the amazing work each and every one of our employees does to provide quality medical care for each of our patients.

This holiday card shines a light on only a few of the ways that Rose staff, volunteers and physicians gave back to the community- from cleaning up and restoring trails at Red Rocks to collecting over 200 brand new pairs of shoes to give to at-risk children in Denver to much, much more.

We would like the thank everyone at Rose for their hard work, and we would also like to wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season!

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