Category Archives: Colonoscopy

World Cancer Day 2018: Uniting the world against preventable disease

27336678_2066910430000717_710002079010092896_nWe all have differences, from our fundamental beliefs such as religion or politics, all the way down to the foods we prefer or the temperature we keep our homes. But when we get down to brass tax, we’re all human.

Enter World Cancer Day, an initiative working to raise awareness of non-communicable diseases around the world, regardless of age, national origin or any other factor.

“Currently, 8.8 million people die from cancer worldwide every year, out of which, 4 million people die prematurely (aged 30 to 69 years),” says WCD.org.

So many of these cancers are preventable, few more than colorectal cancer, the third leading cancer across the world only to breast and lung. Preventative measures combined with early detection is the key to saving millions of lives each year.

“It’s exciting to see how every year there is greater support for World Cancer Day. We’re delighted to back this important initiative and would encourage everyone to get involved.” – Kate Allen, Executive Director of Science & Public Affairs, World Cancer Research Fund International

WCD aims to not just increase awareness, but to generate funds for research and to help get the word out. And their mantra is a simple but effective one: every action counts.

“Whether you do something as large as running your own World Cancer Day campaign, or as simple as sharing our template messages amongst your networks, every action has an impact. Show the world that we can, I can… get involved in the fight against cancer,” says WCD.org.

You can do things as small as donating a few dollars or sharing WCD’s materials on social media to raise awareness. Check out the SIGNS FOR CHANGE social media activity, where they ask you to take selfies and use their hashtags, #WorldCancerDay and #WeCanICan. You can also share your cancer story, read those of others, and hear from healthcare professionals and caregivers.

On February 4, 2018, let’s remember that we’re all human, all fighting for the chance at a better, healthier life. And also remember to get screened! It’s the number one way to detect cancer early to set you on the path of recovery.

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Get inspired! Crohn’s fighters share what works for them

Inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere. We think the folks out there, fighting every day with with IBD, are among some of the most inspiring. That’s why we love to share their stories!

Kristina Krstev‎

“It has been 8 months since I changed to a pescatarian lifestyle…and I want to share my story. In May 2017 I was again in and out of the hospital due to my Crohn’s disease. Taking 14 different medications a day plus daily steroids to help…yet they never did.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, closeup“I was sitting at home after another expensive doctor appointment where I was told the next med would be a biological drug. The first side effect listed was ovarian cancer. I was terrified. A day later I was flipping thru stuff and ran across a ted talk about a man who had Crohn’s disease. Like me he was in pain daily and slowing losing the fight. He talked about how he changed to a vegetarian diet, and the way it changed his life. After a year they could not find the disease in his body. I was in disbelief. How could diet do all that?

“After I did research I began to get angry. Not with my disease anymore, but that after 10 years not one single specialist or doctor told me anything about how this could impact my life. I decided that I would try a pescatarian diet. After two weeks my symptoms declined and at three weeks they were gone. No more meds and no more steroids that made everything in my body hurt daily.

“I did not start this as an animal rights activist, and I’m still not. It’s more about what’s IN meat and diary that terrifies me now. The genetically enhanced food, antibiotics and so much more that are put into the animals we are supposed to consume from factory farms. We are disconnected from our food. We don’t hunt our food anymore and know that it came straight from the outdoors and was clean to eat. We walk into a well stocked grocery store and put our trust in multi million dollar industry’s who want more money from us.

“This is my story. You don’t have to agree with me, but I wanted to share it in the hope that it may help someone else as it did me. I am 7 1/2 months free from meds, and down 45 pounds. I don’t hurt everyday. I don’t worry about my disease ruining yet another experience I wanted to enjoy. I am free. I am healthy.”

Kayleigh Thompson

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor“I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. The biggest issue I’ve come across is with other people judging in a sense I don’t appear to look unwell or ‘she not that bad’. What they don’t see is our day to day lives can be filled with pain, stress, embarrassment too name a few. I’m still finding it hard to find the right coping mechanisms and the amount of doctors trips and medications I am fed have sometimes pushed me to my limits. Recently being able too to talk about my illness and raise awareness to others does help me come to terms with everything. Every day is a new day, a new challenge and you should never judge a book by its cover.”

Nicole Waddell‎

“I was diagnosed at the age of 17 in 2004. I have had Crohn’s Disease for 13 years now. I have a rare case of Crohn’s disease (IBD). It is important not to confuse an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a disorder that affects the muscle contractions of the bowel and is not characterized by intestinal inflammation, nor is it a chronic disease. Most patients have it affect the Ilium of their intestinal tract, but when I was diagnosed mine was covering my whole GI tract. 

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing“I was in so much denial of my new disease that I didn’t do what I was told and I became so sick I had to drop out of my 1st semester of college and move back home with my parents. I was devastated, depressed and full of anxiety of not knowing what would happen to me mentally or physically.

“I went physically anorexic due to not eating because the Crohns would give me horrible stomach cramps. I also had body pains, fatigue, depression, anxiety, & frequent diarrhea.
Over the years I have done many many rounds of max steroid doses. I have tired almost every biologic on the market. I now take a daily chemo drug as well as a high dose biologic every 6 weeks. I still have my intestines and colon. I am checked every year for esophageal, stomach, intestinal and colon cancer. Which I am at high risk for getting.

“I have had two kids through all this pain disease body and I wouldn’t change a thing for taking that chance. They are my biggest blessing! I love my little family of four! I might be out number and never getting to have a baby girl but I wouldn’t change it at all these boys melt my heart.
I would like to thank my family and most of all my husband for going through all the doctors visits, hospital visit and specially visits. I don’t have a cure for this lifetime disease yet but maybe one day we will find something close.

“Crohn’s doesn’t just affect you GI Tract. It causes you to have secondary problems as you go through the years of being diagnosed. I have had some crazy stuff happen to me over the years and I know there are more to come. I wish I didn’t have arthritis at the age of 30, but I do. I have mild eczema, dry eyes, anemia, fertility problems and have had some crazy skin problems over the years.

“I want you to know that although Crohn’s has already taken so much from me, that it will never steal who I am. Living with Crohn’s disease, you learn to love in the mindset that you have control of very little of the life you live in. The drugs and diet control you. I try my best every day so I don’t feel or act like it is stealing any more from me than it has already.
I am blessed I am still here to enjoy life with my family and friends. Please spread the word and share the commonly hidden invisible disease. Thank you and god bless! ”

Thank you to you brave survivors and thrivers out there for sharing your stories!

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More reasons to get a colonoscopy

Image result for get screenedEveryone over the age of 40 is aware of the “dreaded” colonoscopy. But really – we promise – it’s not that scary. Most folks say that the prep is the hardest part while the procedure is a breeze. If you’re still not convinced, having a colonoscopy is the single most effective way of detecting and preventing colon cancer, which is in the top three cancers in the United States. So just do it!

Here’s a bit more info about the procedure and why you should take the plunge.

Get screened if…

Most medical professionals agree that screening should start somewhere between the ages of 40 and 50 (check with your doctor to learn what they recommend), but if you have any symptoms, family history, or are of African descent, the sooner you’re screened, the better.

What are the symptoms?

If you’ve had any changes in your bowels, or experience regular diarrhea, constipation, or bleeding, you could be at a higher risk. Abdominal pain, weakness, weight loss and fatigue are also commonly associated with polyps and colon cancer.

Genetic testing

Most insurance companies will cover genetic testing to better determine your risk level. The Colon Cancer Alliance offers this super fast quiz to see where you stand.

Colonoscopy prep tips

Some medical professionals say that certain dietary tweaks, such as avoiding meat in the week before, can really help with your entire prep experience. Also chill the beverage to ease the flavor and use a straw to help it flow. And if you enjoy grape soda, don’t choose grape flavored prep – that could ruin your beloved pop after the procedure.

Still not convinced?

If the idea of a colonoscopy is just too much for you to handle, your doctor might be able to recommend other screening options. However, if you fall into the high-risk category, a colonoscopy is probably going to be your best line of defense.

The bottom line

Tell your doctor if anything has changed in your bowels – and don’t be embarrassed. Colon cancer is 100% preventable if you’re screened early and often.

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Find support with these upcoming IBD events

No automatic alt text available.Finding support with folks going through the same things as you can sometimes be what gets you through a tough day. Here we have a list of upcoming events for those fighters out there dealing with different forms of IBD, from Crohn’s to Ulcerative Colitis.

Today! Ostomy Awareness Day

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation is hosting a live chat via Facebook to discuss life with an ostomy and how other fighters are learning to thrive. Tune in to ask questions, or just have a listen to fellow ostomy-havers. Stephanie from The Stolen Colon will be there to host.

Online Support Group for Patients and Caregivers

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America is now offering online support groups for patients with various forms of IBD, and also with those who are caregivers. A four-week series of online chats, you can connect with other IBD-ers every Monday evening. While you’re on the site, look around at the Community Forum and the FAQ page, for topics on everything from diet and nutrition to exercise and travel.

Rock the Night to Cure Crohn’s and Colitis

Perhaps the fanciest of the upcoming events, this fundraiser is taking over the Big Apple in search of funds to move research further. Drinks, music, and a silent auction are just a few of the features this event will serve up. Items up for auction include suite tickets to Yankees games or the opera, yoga classes, jewelry, and even a guitar signed by Maroon 5.

Online Ostomy Poll

The Michigan Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation is looking for folks with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis to grow their network and help fighters get more and better resources. Take their one-question poll to start learning more.

More info:

“About 23 to 45 percent of people with ulcerative colitis and up to 75 percent of people with Crohn’s disease will eventually require surgery to treat their disease. There are many types of surgery that may be performed, including surgery to create an ostomy. If you are currently living with, or have lived with before, an ostomy, please participate in our poll!”

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Women’s Health Week: Colon cancer isn’t just for men

Image result for women's health week 2017

From May 14 – 20, the Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to raise awareness around and provide recommendations for women’s health.

The mission of this initiative is to “Provide national leadership and coordination to improve the health of women and girls through policy, education, and model programs.”

Although there are several issues that primarily affect women – cervical, ovarian and breast cancers, mammograms, osteoporosis – women also face risks with digestive issues. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Colon Cancer are just a few of the health concerns of which Women’s Health Week works to increase awareness.

And while the risk for colon cancer is slightly lower in women than in men, almost 5% of women will face a diagnosis this year alone. However, those risks have been decreasing steadily over the past several decades, due almost exclusively to advanced screening capabilities and treatment options.

But we’re not out of the woods just yet: Colon cancer is still the third leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States.

“The old message was that colon cancer was a man’s disease. We have to be careful not to regress in our message to women.” says Sidney J. Winawer, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, to MedPage Today.

So what can women do? Two words: Get screened.

Advancements in technology, research and treatment are only good if we actively opt to utilize them. Most medical professionals recommend that women start their regular colonoscopies at age 50. However, if you have a family history of the disease, or other potential factors such as obesity, smoking and certain ethnicities, your doctor may recommend an earlier start.

For more information on women’s health issues, and National Women’s Health Week in general, WomensHealth.gov. There, you’ll find out how you can get involved, and a comprehensive list of topics that affect women’s health, with information and additional resources for each.

Call to book your colonoscopy today. And remember, screening saves!

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Better colonoscopy prep in the works

Image result for colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is by far the best way to detect and prevent digestive issues such as colon cancer.

Oh, the colonoscopy. Although it’s the most effective way to detect and thereby prevent colon cancer and other digestive issues, some people are still reluctant to commit to the procedure. Ask just about anyone who’s endured the quick and painless process, and they’ll tell you that the prep is the most difficult part.

Reports the Chicago Tribune: “Data suggest that about 40 percent of the people who should get a colonoscopy don’t, mostly because of the prep,” says Douglas Rex, a distinguished professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine.

A typical colonoscopy involves drinking lots and lots of not-so-tasty liquids followed by lots and lots of trips to the toilet. Nothing is going to change in the toilet department, but the liquids are getting a face lift.

Researchers are experimenting with flavored shakes and bars such as strawberry banana or coconut that have the same effect as the historically dreaded liquid.

“Those drinking the new products were twice as likely as those who used the standard prep solution to be satisfied and four times as likely to recommend it,” says the Tribune.

The products should be available to patients in about two years.

The entire goal of these new prep methods is to get more people to commit to a colonoscopy, as it’s undoubtedly the number one way to detect and prevent cancer, tumors, polyps and other intestinal abnormalities.

“The easier you make it for people, the more you can improve their adherence,” says Susan Czajkowski, chief of the health behaviors research branch of the National Cancer Institute.

“The perfect screen has no value if it isn’t used.”

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Colon cancer rates on the rise in young people

Image result for young person at doctor

Listen to your body and be honest with your doctor. Early screening can detect and prevent complications from colon cancer.

As we continue through Colon Cancer Awareness month, our goal is to increase the conversations people have about the disease. Knowing that screenings are by far the most effective way to detect colon cancer early can even work to prevent it altogether.

An unfortunate trend in the fight against colon cancer is a spike in the amount of young people diagnosed. Formerly considered a disease reserved for older men, this new uptick in folks under 40 is disturbing but also mostly unexplained.

“People born in 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer as people born in 1950 faced at the same age,” says CBS New York.

For people of an average risk, the standard age to begin screening for colon cancer is 50. The only problem with that guideline is that younger folks are getting missed, often until it’s too late.

While the medical community struggles to pinpoint the cause of the surge, many speculate that changes in lifestyle and diet are to blame.

“Prime suspects include obesity, inactivity and poor diets,” said researchers from the American Cancer Society.

In other words, the behaviors we know are bad for us, and cause health issues across the board, are the likely culprit in the uptick in colon cancer.

While the statistics are alarming, the overall rates of colon cancer in younger people is still low. But that doesn’t mean there’s no lesson in this – be your own health advocate. Listen to your body and work with your doctor to pinpoint when something is wrong.

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Three dangerous colonoscopy myths debunked

colonoscopy-is-the-gold-standard-of-colon-cancer-prevention

A colonoscopy is your best chance at early detection and prevention of colon cancer and other digestive disorders.

Colonoscopy is the absolute gold standard when it comes to colon cancer prevention. There are a handful of alternatives, but none come close to the level of early detection that the procedure provides.

But there are a few myths out there that might make you think twice before scheduling your appointment. We’re here to debunk those myths, put you at ease, and encourage you to get screened.

Myth 1: 50 is the age for everyone

Most medical professionals will suggest that you have your first colonoscopy by the time you’re 50. However, if you have a family history, that age could be younger.

More people under 40 are being diagnosed with colon cancer. In fact, almost one in seven folks with the disease are under 50. And now, a new study is recommending earlier screenings for everyone by lowering the age to 40 or 45.

Your family history plays a huge role in your likelihood of suffering from colon cancer. If you have a family history, your doctor might recommend getting screened by 40 to increase the chances of early detection.

Myth 2: Symptoms are the only reason to have one

Colon cancer and other digestive complications can often be symptom-free. Or, your symptoms could be something you easily dismiss, such as bloating or fatigue. You should never leave your decision to have a colonoscopy up to your symptoms, but rather your age and family history.

Our very own Dr. Donat of the Center for Digestive Health encourages his patients not to wait until you’re having issues: “Don’t put it off until you have symptoms because it may be too late by then.”

Myth 3: The procedure is painful

It’s a common misconception that the procedure itself is painful. However, the doctor who performs your colonoscopy will work with the staff to ensure that you’re properly sedated and comfortable so you don’t have to worry about any discomfort.

If you’re still worried about potential pain, it can be helpful to keep in mind how important it is to get screened. Colon cancer is preventative when caught early, and a colonoscopy is by far the most effective way to catch it.

Dr. Donat reminds us: “Colonoscopies are easy, painless, and can save your life.”

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Talk it out: Colon cancer conversations you should have

Colorecatal_Cancer_Awareness_Month_Scrolly_MarchTalking about cancer is never easy. Especially if you come from a family who keeps their medical struggles private. But it’s so important to have conversations with relatives about the issues they face. You can learn a lot about the risks you might face simply by knowing what your genes are predisposed to.

“First-degree relatives – parents, siblings and children – of patients with colorectal cancer or polyps have a two- to three-fold increased risk of developing polyps and colon or rectal cancer,” says Craig Reickert, M.D., in Breaking taboo: Making colon cancer awareness a family affair.

It’s especially important to educate yourself about your family history, because oftentimes, colon cancer comes with no symptoms.

“We’re finding colorectal cancer in younger people under 40,” says Dr. Anezi Bakken, M.D. M.S. at Troy Gastroenterology. “And there are usually no symptoms,” Dr. Bakken adds.

By far the best way to screen for colon cancer is a colonoscopy. But, if you’re still facing resistance from your family about discussing their personal health, Dr. Reickert suggests putting it this way:

You change the oil in your car so you don’t have to replace the entire motor. Colonoscopy is just like that oil change; it’s preventative maintenance to extend your life and avoid invasive treatments down the line, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

The bottom line is that screening is the only way you can get out ahead of colon cancer to have a chance of getting it under control. Even though it’s not curable, it’s definitely controllable if found early enough and treated properly.

And, after talking to your family, it’s even more important to get screened – and screened early – if they’ve had any issues with colon cancer, Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis.

Dr. M. Emin Donat, M.D. F.R.C.P.C. at Troy Gastroenterology, puts it best: “A colonoscopy is easy, painless and can save your life.”

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More young people diagnosed with colon cancer

Colon cancer cases are increasing in folks under 50 years of age.

There have been an increasing number of cases of colon cancer in people under 50.

We often think of colon cancer as a disease only older people have to worry about. But lately, there have been reports of more people under 50 being diagnosed with colon cancer.

According to CBS News, one in seven people who have colon cancer are under 50. Most younger people who are diagnosed have a later stage cancer. But there’s good news: the rate of survival without recurrence is also higher in younger folks.

Conflicting views

The current recommendation for colon cancer screenings is to start at age 50. For people with a family history of the disease, it’s a whole decade earlier, at age 40.

A new study is recommending earlier screenings for everyone by lowering the age to 40 or 45 across the board. But many insurance plans don’t cover colonoscopies for people under the recommended age or those without a family history of the disease.

According to Record Searchlight, “Several surgeons who conducted the study said that shows the recommended age for screening needs to be younger than current guidelines.” But many in the medical community are waiting for more conclusive statistics before making that claim.

What you can do

As always, pay attention to your body. If something feels off, tell your doctor. Symptoms of colon cancer aren’t always obvious. They can be as simple as fatigue, bloating, nausea or constipation.

Dr. Suryakanth Gurudu, a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic, recommends a less invasive approach, such as a stool sample. “We still don’t have large population-based studies that show cost effectiveness by decreasing the age to 40 years,” says Dr. Gurudu.

The risk of developing colon cancer during your younger years is still low. But if you have a family history or suspicious symptoms, talk to your doctor about your options.

Never Too Young

The Never Too Young (N2Y) coalition works to raise awareness of colon cancer cases in young people. They recognize the problems you can face with your insurance company or other barriers to treatment.

“Too often we hear stories from folks in this group who are facing additional screening and diagnosis hurdles due to their age,” says N2Y.

Visit the Colon Cancer Alliance site for more information.

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