186 posts in the category “Parkinson’s Disease”

A possible Parkinson’s disease/melanoma link? Time for a skin check

Posted 2 weeks ago by

Now that summer has passed, have you had your skin examined? Studies have shown that people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) may have an increased risk for melanoma, so skin screenings are extra-important. Take a look at recent research and get some tips on monitoring your moles and skin.

Studies show…

A 2017 Mayo Clinic study found that people with either PD or melanoma are four times as likely to receive a diagnosis of the other disease. The researchers say the PD drug levodopa (which some people believe may play a role in melanoma risk) is not likely a factor in the PD/melanoma connection, according to McKnight’s. They found that the majority of melanomas were diagnosed before the diagnosis or treatment of Parkinson’s disease, so taking levodopa doesn’t appear to be a risk factor.

Future research should focus on genes, immune responses and environmental exposures that could cause the relationship, the researchers say.

Know your “ABCDEs”

Check out the Skin Cancer Foundation’s “ABCDEs of Melanoma” (click here to see images of examples), and make an appointment right away if you spot any of these warning signs:

A = asymmetry. Malignant moles tend to have an odd shape.

B = border. The edges of an early melanoma may be uneven or “scalloped.”

C = color. Watch out for moles that are a spotty mix of colors (from tan to black, or even shades of red, white or blue).

D = diameter. Melanomas are usually larger in diameter than a pencil eraser (but may be smaller early on).

E = evolving. Keep an eye out for any changes in your moles, such as size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or new symptoms such as bleeding, itching or crusting.

Also, keep in mind these other risk factors for melanoma, according to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research:

  • Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure (psst: use sunscreen and protective clothing)
  • Caucasian race
  • Older age
  • Male
  • Family history of melanoma or personal history of melanoma or other skin cancers

The Fox Foundation is currently funding studies on the PD/melanoma connection, including one exploring the role of alpha-synuclein (a sticky protein) in both conditions, and others examining the genes or gene mutations involved in the two conditions. Learn more here.

On PatientsLikeMe

Some members report having both PD and melanoma. “I encourage everybody to go to a dermatologist, who has observed thousands of moles, on various skin types, and pay them to do a body scan,” says one member with PD and melanoma (fortunately, a biopsy showed his cancer had not spread). “Melanoma is not slow progressing like Parkinson’s.”

Has your doctor ever mentioned melanoma risk? Join PatientsLikeMe or log in to talk about Parkinson’s and melanoma in the PD forum.

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Driving with Parkinson’s disease: Safety considerations + turning over the keys

Posted 1 month ago by

Are you still driving with Parkinson’s disease? Check out some safety considerations and pointers for determining if it’s time to turn over the keys. Plus, explore how others with PD have handled this tricky topic and see some alternate ways of getting around.

Considerations for driving with PD + 7 questions to ask yourself

“You will likely be able to drive safely and legally for several years, depending on your age and general physical condition,” according to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. “However, Parkinson’s disease eventually affects reaction time, ability to handle multiple tasks, vision and judgment.”

Everyone with PD is living with their own mix of motor and non-motor symptoms, rate of disease progression, and reaction to medication (such as levodopa “ons and offs”) — all of which can affect driving abilities.

There are currently no set guidelines for neurologists to determine someone’s fitness to drive, so doctors consider patients’ skills and symptoms on a case-by-case basis, according to ParkinsonsDisease.net. They recommend considering these questions to help determine if you’re still fit to drive:

  • How is my vision? Can I see well at night? Can I distinguish colors, such as in traffic lights?
  • Would I be putting my passenger (friend or loved one) at risk?
  • How fast is my reaction time? Could I safely avoid a surprise obstacle in the road?
  • Has anyone (friend or family member) commented negatively on my ability to drive?
  • Can I handle multiple activities at the same time (whether driving or not)?
  • Can I effectively and quickly turn the wheel or step on the brake with enough strength?
  • Do any of my medications cause side effects like sleepiness, dizziness, blurred vision, or confusion?

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety published this self-assessment quiz and booklet for the general population of drivers ages 65+, but your own evaluation of your driving (and even your doctor’s assessment) may not capture all the true risks.

Driving assessments

PatientsLikeMe members have talked about how you can get a driving assessment to help you independently determine your driving abilities (click here to learn more about different types of professional driving assessments; note: these assessments are not covered by Medicare or private health insurance and you should ask if the results may be shared with your state and affect the status of your driver’s license).

Older drivers can also attend a (confidential) CarFit event, where a team of trained technicians and/or health professionals work with you to ensure you “fit” your vehicle properly for maximum comfort and safety.

Your community’s experiences

Join PatientsLikeMe or log in to see what members have said about the challenges of giving up their keys — as well as the potential bright side, such as no longer having to stress about driving (and associated costs, like car payments, insurance and gas) and — more importantly — possibly hurting someone.

Karl Robb (our blog partner), who has young-onset PD, has written about how he realized he gave up driving at age 30 because of worsening dyskinesia. “Relinquishing the keys to your car is a selfless act of caring and compassion,” he says in a piece for the Parkinson’s Foundation. “It shows that you care about yourself and those who may be put in harm’s way.”

Getting around town

Thinking about giving up or reducing your driving? Look into public transportation or free/reduced-cost transportation services in your area, and ask friends and family for rides (it can help to plan ahead and have a set calendar or day of each week for running errands with them).

“Turns out it is a good time to be a non-driver,” notes one member. “Surely you have heard of LYFT and Uber? They offer inexpensive rides in many US cities. maybe your family could set you up with one.” (See the growing list of cities that Lyft and Uber serve, as well as ever-expanding delivery services, like Instacart for groceries and medications/pharmacy goods.)

Also, explore these other transportation resources:

Join PatientsLikeMe and this PD forum discussion to add your thoughts, questions or concerns about driving. The community is here for you!

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