Posts for tag: Colonoscopy
When COVID-19 exploded onto the scene in early 2020, few if any could predict the enormous social, economic, and even political impacts that were to come. An interesting thing occurred, though, in the midst of the rising tide of the pandemic. While diagnosed cases of COVID-19 continued to rise around the country, some cancer diagnoses were on the decline, including those of colorectal cancer. On the surface, this would appear to be a monumental development and accomplishment in the fight against colorectal cancer! However, a closer look reveals the truth in the timing. The decrease in cancer diagnoses is directly related to the dramatic decrease in exams and screenings this past year, a trend we need to see reversed in 2021.
Why Was There a Decrease in Cancer Screenings?
To say we were unprepared as a nation for a pandemic like COVID-19 is an understatement, and this became very apparent early on as health care facilities and hospitals in different areas around the country became overwhelmed with patients. Even as they neared or reached their patient capacity, information was still being acquired as to the contagious nature and potency of this disease. In a desire to minimize the spread and to conserve resources in the healthcare system, elective procedures, including certain cancer screening procedures, were postponed.
To their immense credit, the medical community of doctors, scientists, and researchers worked around the clock to understand how to treat COVID and how to reduce its spread. As more information became available regarding protective measures and patient safety, doctors began to schedule screenings again. This lapse of time though, will ultimately come at a cost, as cancer is a disease that doesn’t delay or stop due to worldwide pandemics or cultural changes. Unfortunately, it is inevitable that too many people will find out later than they should have that they have colorectal cancer. And as we know with cancer, every day counts when it comes to early detection and treatment.
I Missed My Last Screening. When Should I Reschedule?
Time matters when it comes to cancer, so you should reschedule your missed appointment. If you are concerned about COVID-19, we can assure you that we are taking every precaution possible when it comes to protecting your health and slowing the spread. Contact us to schedule an appointment, whether you are a new patient or a current patient, or schedule your screening here.
Is There a Vaccine and When Will I Have Access?
Yes! A COVID-19 Vaccine has recently been approved, with the CDC and FDA managing the distribution process.
In the near future, and as supplies ramp up, everyone will be able to have access to the vaccine. However, due to the initial limited supply of the vaccine, the state of Wisconsin (per supplies allocated at the federal level) will follow the recommendations developed by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee. As such, the vaccine will be offered in a series of phases, with the frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities being the first to receive access.
For more information on the development of this plan and distribution timelines, take a few moments and read the COVID-19 Distribution Plan for Wisconsin as well as the DHS executive summary, COVID-19 Vaccination - Planning in Action.
Cancer Screening: The Choice is Yours
When it comes to colon cancer, getting screened is an essential part of your wellness plan. The key is to do something and you have screening options.
Average risk screening colonoscopy starts at age 50 (or 45 by some sources) and is recommended every 10 years until the age of 75. If polyps are found on colonoscopy, the interval of recommended colonoscopy may be shortened.
If colorectal cancer runs in your family or you have certain underlying conditions, you may need to get tested earlier. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you.
Know your options
Colonoscopy is the most common test to detect colon cancer, as well as the most reliable. 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.
A colonoscopy is the only colorectal cancer screening option that both detects and prevents colorectal cancer. As a routine, preventative screening, colonoscopies are covered by most insurance plans which often means little or no out-of-pocket cost to you!
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 45 and 75 years of age 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 here.
Occasionally, patients have reservations about getting a colonoscopy, or there may be reasons to consider alternative screening methods. At the advice of your doctor, you might also be able to consider one of these alternatives:
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 the 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 flexible sigmoidoscopy. If either of these tests 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.
Preventative screenings like colonoscopies are typically covered by insurance and so don't have any costs to 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.
This is the perfect time to reevaluate what you’re doing for your own health.
The holiday season is upon us and this usually means spending time with family and friends over generous helpings of foods. Of course, not all those foods are the best for your health. As we come up to the New Year, many patients make a resolution to be healthier. From the office of our Wausau, WI, gastroenterologists, here are some tips to keep your GI tract healthy in the New Year.
Eat Healthier for a Healthier You
The holiday season is a time for delicious foods and yet a lot of the foods we love can also lead to heartburn, indigestion and constipation. It’s important to know what triggers these symptoms so that you can avoid these foods whenever possible. Aim to include fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy and whole grains into your diet while avoiding processed foods. Incorporate fiber into your diet and limit both caffeine and alcohol, which can cause digestive issues.
Manage Overeating and Bad Habits
We know how tempting it can be to reach for another helping of mashed potatoes or to grab another slice of pumpkin pie; however, if you find yourself feeling guilty about how much you’re eating this holiday season then here are some quick tips to allow you to enjoy delicious holiday foods without the guilt.
- Pace yourself and set your fork down between bites. By slowing down you can control just how much you eat and allow your body time to let you know that it’s done. You can still enjoy the foods you love, just in moderation.
- If you’re still hungry after a meal, drink a glass of water and wait 10-15 minute to see if the pangs go away.
- Stress can also wreak havoc on our ability to manage bad eating habits, so make sure to carve out some time in between carving that turkey to unwind and relax.
- Practice mindful eating, which means turning off distractions and focusing on eating. Eating while working or multitasking can lead to consuming hundreds of extra calories.
Decide to Lose that Weight
Getting fit is a resolution for many and adding regular physical activity to your week is important for a healthy digestive system. In fact, something as simple as a 30-minute walk each day can prevent bloating and constipation. Getting regular exercise can also reduce your risk for colon cancer. Those who are overweight or obese are at a greater risk for developing with diabetes, fatty liver disease and other GI problems.
Schedule a Colonoscopy
Okay, so perhaps this isn’t something you’ve put on your wish list this holiday season but a colonoscopy is the best way to detect polyps and colorectal cancer, and both men and women should start getting screened by the time they reach 50 years old. If you are turning 50 this year then it’s time to schedule a colonoscopy with our Wausau, WI, GI doctor.
If you want to start out the New Year with good digestive health then the team at GI Associates in Wausau, WI, can provide you with the advice and treatment you need to handle any issues you might be having. Call us today to schedule an appointment.
Colonoscopy: An Important Colon Cancer Screening Procedure
A colonoscopy allows your doctor to examine the lining of your large intestine or colon for any abnormalities. During a colon cancer screening in Wausau, WI, a thin flexible tube is inserted and slowly advances through the GI tract into the rectum and colon. Known as the colonoscope, your doctor can view images on a video monitor with ease. Polyps or abnormal growths in the colon lining may be found that can be removed during this important cancer screening procedure.
Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Known as the silent killer, there are usually no warning signs. At age 50 all adults are urged to get screened.
More about Colon Cancer Screenings in Wausau, WI
For most patients, there is no pain during this procedure. Patients may feel cramping, bloating or pressure after the colonoscopy. If your doctor thinks something needs further evaluation, they may obtain a biopsy and take a sample to be analyzed. After a colon cancer screening in Wausau, WI, one of our board certified gastroenterologists professionals from GI Associates & GI Associates Endoscopy Center will explain the results of your procedure with you. Further information about diet and activities will be given to you too. You will need a ride since you are given a sedative during the procedure, which makes it unsafe for you to drive for the rest of the day. In general, there are few complications associated with a colonoscopy, but bleeding at the site of a polyp or biopsy sample removal is the most common. To schedule this important screening procedure with one of our professionals, call 877-442-7762 today.
In honor of March being Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, we are sharing the key risk factors for colon cancer. Colon cancer is sometimes called “the silent killer” because symptoms often don’t present themselves until later stages. That’s why it’s so important to get regular screenings after the age of 50—even if you have no other risk factors.
Colorectal cancer refers to cancer of the colon or rectum. The exact cause is not yet known, but the following risk factors may increase the chance that a person will develop this disease:
- Age. The chances of developing colorectal cancer increase after age 50. In fact, more than 90% of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are at least 50 years old.
- Family history. Having close relatives (parents, siblings or children) who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer increases your likelihood of having it. If you are at a higher risk, your physician may recommend screenings for you before the age of 50.
- Personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer. A polyp is a growth that develops on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Some polyps may become cancerous. If you’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the past, the disease may reoccur.
- Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease. Other risk factors include eating diets high in fat and red meat, lack of exercise, smoking, and bowel disorders such as Crohn’s disease. Although some risk factors, such as age and family history, cannot be avoided, other factors are within your control.
Of course, the biggest risk anyone can take when it comes to colorectal cancer is not getting screened. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., but it has a 90% survival rate when caught early enough. Talk to your doctor about scheduling an appointment today.