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Ask Dr. Gott 12/05

Skin problem needs a specialist

DEAR DR. GOTT: I am 76 years old, and in the last year I have developed moles or brown spots on my back, neck and in my hair. They itch and are raised. My doctor just pooh-poohs me and doesn't give me any satisfaction to my questions.
    DEAR READER: Rather than putting you off, your doctor should follow up on your skin problem by referring you to a dermatologist. You need a specialist who will take your concerns seriously.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Medical Specialists." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title. 

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I'm writing (first time ever) concerning end-of-life decisions. My husband and I are devout, practicing Catholics. We have many religious vocations in our families. Five are nuns and my brother is a Jesuit priest. I agree with you on end of life decisions.
    DEAR READER: Your letter, like hundreds I received about quality-of-life issues, reinforces my belief that most religious patients are "not as concerned about dying as they are getting there," one patient told me. Whether a person believes in God or not affects his or her attitude about when to die and how.
    In contrast, my concerns — and those of many physicians — have to do with relieving pain and suffering that we all wish to avoid when the end is near.
    Thank you for writing. I appreciate your support of my position. I hope more readers will alter their views. I am not playing God, but I believe that the medical profession has the responsibility to allow patients to die (when the time comes) with dignity and in comfort. In this sense, we are truly working with the Creator to do good.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am interested in finding information and help for my son, who has been diagnosed with an enlarged spleen, a cyst on his liver approximately 2 millimeters in size (the doctor says he feels sure it is a benign water cyst) and pancreatitis. The doctor has my son on a liquid/soft diet. No medications at this point in time.
    DEAR READER: I cannot respond to your request without more information. For example, how old is your son? Why did he undergo testing of his spleen? If so, what was the testing? An ultrasound? What are his symptoms? This information is critical. For example, if he is 17 years old and has fatigue and swollen glands, I'd check him for mononucleosis.
    In contrast, if he is 67 and healthy, I'd disregard the lab findings and concentrate on how the pancreatitis was diagnosed. The liver cyst is probably unimportant in any case.
    I suggest that you and your son meet with the doctor to review and discuss the health issues. I believe this is the most direct and useful approach.

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