Our Gastroenterology Blog

Posts for: March, 2018

By GI Associates
March 20, 2018
Category: blog

 

Know your options 

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Getting screened is essential to the detection and prevention of colon cancer.

Choosing what’s best for you. 

Colonoscopy is the most common and effective colorectal cancer screening option because it is the only test that both detects and prevents colorectal cancer.

During a colonoscopy, your doctor examines the lining along the entire length of your large intestine. If your doctor sees abnormal growths of tissue called polyps, tiny instruments are inserted through the colonoscope to remove them. The tissue samples are sent to a pathologist to evaluate whether they are benign, precancerous or malignant. Screening colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years between 50 and 75 years of age. It may be more frequently based on your findings and risk factors.

Good for:

  • Patients with average to high risk of colon cancer
  • Preventing colon cancer

Stool DNA test

Another option you can discuss with your doctor is a stool DNA test such as Cologuard.

The stool DNA test looks for abnormal DNA associated with colon cancer or colon polyps and detects hidden blood in the stool, which can indicate the presence of cancer. If a stool DNA test is positive a colonoscopy is usually recommended.  The stool DNA test is recommended for average risk patients with no symptoms and is usually recommended every 3-5 years.

Good for:

  • Patients at average risk with no symptoms, conditions, personal or family history of colon cancer
  • Patients who cannot tolerate colonoscopy prep or procedure

Not recommended for:

  • Patients at higher risk with a personal history of colon polyps or cancer
  • Patients with underlying conditions and/or symptoms including:
    • inflammatory bowel conditions
    • diarrhea
    • blood in their urine or stool
    • bleeding hemorrhoids
    • rectal bleeding, or are menstruating.

If a stool DNA test is positive a colonoscopy is usually recommended to identify the source.  It is important to note that colonoscopy performed due to a positive stool DNA test is classified as a diagnostic service by most payers, so out of pocket costs may apply.

But wait, there’s more . . .

Other options include: Flexible sigmoidoscopy, double barium enema, and CT colonography. See our “Colon Cancer Screenings” blog to learn more about these.

The most important thing in the fight against colorectal cancer is screening. Early detection is crucial and potentially lifesaving. Fortunately, you have options. We encourage you to speak to your doctor about which screening is best for you.

If you have any concerns about coverage or payment for colon cancer screening services, our GI Associates Financial Counselor will work with you to help understand your benefits.  

Schedule your colon cancer screening today. Call 877-442-7762 or request an appointment online.


By GI Associates
March 07, 2018
Category: blog


                  




The choice is yours

When it comes to colon cancer, getting screened is an essential part in your wellness plan. The key is to do something and you have screening options.

It is recommended that colon cancer screening start at age 50 for men and women who are at an average risk with no symptoms.

If colorectal cancer runs in your family or you have certain underlying conditions, you may need to get tested before age 50. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you.


Know your options

Colonoscopy is the most common test to detect colon cancer. Other tests include stool DNA tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, double barium enema, and CT colonography. Based on your personal health history, your doctor can recommend the right test for you.
 

1. Colonoscopy:  This is the only colorectal cancer screening option that both detects and prevents colorectal cancer. Prior to a procedure you complete a bowel preparation process that cleans out the colon to enable your doctor to see the lining of your rectum and colon. During a colonoscopy, your doctor gently inserts a colonoscope, which contains a tiny video camera at its tip, through the rectum into your large intestine.  Your doctor examines the lining along the entire length of your large intestine.

If your doctor sees abnormal growths of tissue called polyps, tiny instruments are inserted through the colonoscope to remove them. The tissue samples are sent to a pathologist to evaluate whether they are benign, precancerous or malignant. Screening colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years between 50 and 75 years of age. It may be more frequently based on your findings and risk factors. If you’d like to learn more about what to expect before a colonoscopy, check out our video.
 

2. Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT): FIT detects hidden blood in the stool, which can indicate the presence of cancer. When a FIT test is positive a colonoscopy is usually recommended.  FIT tests are recommended annually for average risk patients, age of 50 and over, with no symptoms.
 

3. Stool DNA Tests: The stool DNA test looks for abnormal DNA associated with colon cancer or colon polyps. The test also detects hidden blood in the stool, which can indicate the presence of cancer. If a stool DNA test is positive a colonoscopy is usually recommended.  The stool DNA test is recommended for average risk patients with no symptoms and is usually recommended every 3-5 years.

The stool DNA test is not recommended for higher risk patients with a personal history of colon polyps or cancer, or who have inflammatory bowel conditions, diarrhea, blood in their urine or stool, bleeding hemorrhoids, rectal bleeding, or are menstruating. It is important to note that colonoscopy performed due to a positive stool DNA test is often classified as a diagnostic service by most payers.
 

4. CT Colonography (also referred to as virtual colonoscopy): A small tube is placed in the rectum and air is pumped into the colon to inflate the bowel. A special computer program creates both 2-dimensional x-ray pictures and a 3-dimensional view of the inside of the colon and rectum, which lets the doctor look for polyps or cancer. If the test is positive a colonoscopy is usually recommended to remove the growths. Preparation is the same as a colonoscopy. This test may be recommended when completion of a colonoscopy is not possible. It is usually recommended every 5 years.
 

5. Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: Similar to colonoscopy, this test uses a thin flexible tube with a camera to examine the rectum and left side of the colon. Whereas colonoscopy examines the entire length of the colon, sigmoidoscopy is a partial exam. The preparation is the same as a colonoscopy. When considering colon cancer screening options, flexible sigmoidoscopy is not as complete as a colonoscopy and therefore is not widely recommended for screening purposes. It’s typically repeated every 5 years.
 

6. Double Barium Enema: This is also called a lower GI tract radiography, in which a barium solution and air are introduced into the colon and a series of x-rays are taken of the entire colon and rectum. Double Barium Enema is often performed in combination with a flexible sigmoidoscopy.  If the either of these test is positive a colonoscopy is usually recommended.
 

Early detection of colorectal cancer is crucial and potentially lifesaving. The most important step you can take is to get screened. GI Associates is proud to offer options to our patients so that together we can determine the best plan for you.

If you have any concerns about coverage or payment for colon cancer screening services, our GI Associates Financial Counselor will work with you to help understand your benefits.  

Schedule your colon cancer screening today. Call 877-442-7736 or request an appointment online.


By GI Associates
March 02, 2018
Category: blog
Tags: colon cancer  

8 ways to minimize your risk

 Colon Cancer Awareness Month is here. At GI Associates, we are passionate about the prevention and treatment of this potentially deadly disease. Below are eight ways you can minimize your risk of colon cancer:

  1. Don’t Smoke There’s nothing that is helped by smoking. You can reduce your risk for almost every kind of cancer when you quit. Find more reasons and help here.
  2. Drink in Moderation While some alcohol in moderation, like a glass of red wine with dinner, may have some health benefits.  Keep in mind it’s better for your colon—and the rest of you, if you drink only in moderation.
  3. Cut Back on Red Meat As with alcohol, a moderate amount of red meat (2-3 servings a week) is just fine. However, studies have shown that a high consumption of red meat can increase your risk of colon cancer by 28%. Save the steak for special occasions.
  4. Eat Vegetables, Fruits, and Whole Grains Naturally, cutting back on red meat and replacing it with, say, chicken strips will not do you nearly as much good as it will to replace unhealthy foods with the holy trinity of cancer-fighting foods: green veggies, antioxidant-rich fruit, and whole grains.
  5. Healthy Lifestyle: Exercise Exercise is good for you for many reasons, and one of them is that it reduces your risk of colon and other cancers. In fact, exercise helps fight colon cancer even in those who have the disease.
  6. Healthy Lifestyle: Weight No surprise here. Even otherwise healthy people who are overweight are at a higher risk for colon cancer.
  7. Get screened.  It’s not anyone’s favorite thing, but getting regular colonoscopies is the best way to prevent colon cancer. Learn more about them here.
  8. Know Your Family History If your primary relatives (mother, father, brother or sister or your children) is diagnosed with colon cancer, you are at higher risk. Ask around at your next family gathering to make sure you know your family history.

One of the very few “good things” colon cancer has going for it is that it’s preventable. We encourage you to make an appointment to learn more about how to stay free of colon cancer your whole life long.