Tag Archives: colonoscopy

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

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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

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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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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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Dress in Blue day to support Colon Cancer Awareness

The staff at Troy Gastro came together to support a cause that’s near and dear to our hearts: Colon Cancer Awareness. March 6, 2015 marked Dress in Blue day in support of colon cancer survivors, fighters, and those we’ve lost to the disease.

We believe that prevention is the most effective way to treat this prevalent cancer. “When you have colon cancer,” says Dr. Anezi Bakken MD MS, “it can cause no symptoms or signs initially.”

Here’s a look at some of our staff dressed in blue to support Colon Cancer Awareness 2015!

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Four digestive resolutions: How to have a regular 2015

We've got a few resolutions for your digestive health.

Here’s to a happy a REGULAR new year!

We talked a lot this year about how to improve your digestion. So we started thinking: What should your digestive resolutions be for 2015?

Here’s a list of things you can do to easily improve your digestion in the new year.

  1. Learn how to ease constipation with certain foods. Even though food may not be everything, eating nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables with lots of fiber can help most of your bodily functions.
  2. Cut back on dairy to reduce digestive discomfort. Diarrhea, constipation, bloating and gas are just a few symptoms of lactose intolerance. If you have some of these symptoms but aren’t sure why, try cutting out dairy for a few days to see if that’s the culprit.
  3. Read about when you should take heartburn more seriously. While there are definitely some foods you can blame, there could be other things at work. “If you have heartburn every day you should seek medical care from a physician to identify the cause,” says Dr. Anezi Bakken.
  4. And perhaps most importantly, get a colonoscopy. Few things can detect colon cancer in its early stages like this simple procedure. As Dr. M. Emin Donat put it, “colonoscopies are easy, painless and can save your life.”

Here’s to a happy, healthy and regular new year!

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Is there a new alternative to a colonoscopy?

The dreaded colonoscopy has always been viewed as the only way to screen for colon cancer. But the new screening option announced this year has caused quite a stir. Is it possible that colonoscopies are on their way out?

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A colonoscopy is a necessary procedure for early detection of colon cancer.

Dr. M. Emin Donat, MD FRCPC and member of the American College of Gastroenterology and the American Gastroenterology Association, talked us through what a colonoscopy is and how the new procedure compares.

How a colonoscopy works

“A colonoscopy is a procedure where your GI doctor looks in your large intestine with a flexible scope,” says Dr. Donat. “This is done to look for polyps or other diseases that affect the colon.”

Although it sounds a bit unpleasant, patients are sedated and the procedure is painless. For a lot of folks, the preparation is the worst part.

“The prep involves only drinking clear liquids and avoiding solid foods the day before the procedure,” says Dr. Donat. “Patients then drink a laxative solution to clear out the colon completely.”

So the grunt work is done the day before, where you should probably stay home and close to the bathroom.

Anyone with intestinal or bowel problems can undergo a colonoscopy, but “everyone should have a colonoscopy at age 50 to look for polyps,” says Dr. Donat.

How the new option works

With capsule endoscopy, you swallow a pill-shaped capsule with a tiny camera inside. The pill works its way through your digestive system, taking thousands of photos as it moves along.

Sounds like the perfect, less-invasive alternative to colonoscopies, right?

Well, there are a couple of road bumps to conquer before bidding farewell the colonoscopy. First, the success rate of colonoscopies in catching polyps and other abnormalities is tough to beat: 98%.

Second, “if the camera does pick up on something,” says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “the patient must then come back anyway for a colonoscopy and biopsy to have the growth…removed.”

Additionally, your doctor can’t directly handle a where the camera goes or how long it spends in a problem area during a capsule endoscopy. But during a colonoscopy, if your doctor sees something suspicious, they can take extra time on and photos of that area.

Your best options

As always, you and your doctor can decide which route is best for you. For now, Dr. Donat still suggests that everyone 50 and older should have a colonoscopy. He reminds us that “colonoscopies are easy, painless and can save your life.”

And most importantly, “Don’t put it off until you have symptoms because it may be too late by then.”

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