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Gastroenterology Blog

Colon Cancer Screening for Millennials in Baton Rouge

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 @ 3:14 PM

COLON CANCER SCREENING FOR MILLENNIALS IN BATON ROUGE.jpgIt’s that time of year again—Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Over the years, we’ve talked about the prevalence of colon cancer among adults over 50, as well as how diabetes, race, polyps, and other genetic factors can increase the risk of colon cancer. But now, it’s time to talk about a startling new demographic at risk—millennials.

New research has shown that the millennial generation—people born between 1978 and 1997—are at greater risk for both colon and rectal cancer than the preceding generations. Since the mid-1990s, colon cancer rates have increased by 1-2.4% every year. Rectal cancer prevalence among 20-39-year-olds has increased 3.2% per year from 1980 to 2013. In 2015, 10% of colorectal cancer patients were under the age of 50. 

But there is good news. Colon cancer is not only treatable, but preventable with early detection.

People who are at an elevated risk for colon cancer should be screened regularly, so that it can be caught even if it isn't yet causing symptoms. Early screening can also detect polyps that have the potential to become cancerous later on.

Three main tests can be used to screen for colorectal cancer in millennials:

Colonoscopy

The strongest tool for early detection of cancer and also allows the doctor to look at the inside of the entire colon. Even if you have no other risk factors, a colonoscopy should be performed every 10 years starting at age 50. Most insurance companies cover this as a wellness/ preventive program, without any copay or deductible.

If you have any concerns about getting a colonoscopy, such as pain during the procedure or drinking the prep, then you have not been keeping up with the latest developments. If your doctor thinks it is appropriate for you, a smaller prep is better tolerated and a colonoscopy is a sedated, completely pain-free procedure, as anyone who has done it will tell you.

Although some other tests (as below) may be able detect blood in the stool or polyps, they are not as good as a colonoscopy in diagnosing polyps or cancer and you will still need a colonoscopy if a polyp or blood in the stool is found in any other way.

Fecal Immunochemical Test

This colon cancer screening test looks for signs of cancer in three consecutive stool samples, which you can collect at home. This test should be performed annually starting at age 50—or earlier, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer or exhibit other risk factors for colon cancer. This is not a 100% guaranteed test in diagnosing all cases with polyps or cancer, nor does it rule out any abnormalities when it is negative.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

This screening test allows doctors to view the inside of your rectum and the nearest part of your colon, the sigmoid colon. It should be performed every 5 years starting at age 50. This does not help to examine the right side of the colon where more polyps may be found, and you need to prep and have sedation for this procedure as well.

The only difference is how much of the colon will be examined, so it has not been an ideal test for colon cancer screening.

Patients at an elevated risk of colon cancer—even those under the age of 40—should be screened more frequently. If you have inflammatory bowel disease, a family history of colon cancer, or a personal history of polyps, your doctor may recommend that you start getting screened earlier, and get screened more frequently.

There is no reason to panic because of the numbers. You need to ask your doctor if you need colon cancer screening- anyone 50 years and above, or anyone with a family history of colon cancer or polyps, or at any age if you have symptoms such as rectal bleeding or anemia, you may need to be tested.

There are many factors that contribute to the development of colon cancer. Doing what is good for your bodysuch as eating fresh fruits and vegetables, eating less red meat and processed foods, exercising to avoid or reduce obesity, and having regular checkups with your doctor—is good for your colon as well. Genetics is just one risk factor, so instead of stressing about your family history or what you read online, take action to restore your peace of mind. Call and schedule a consultation today.

To schedule your colonoscopy in Baton Rouge today, please contact one of the doctors at Gastroenterology Associates by calling (225) 927-1190.

Topics: Cancer

11 Common Causes of Rectal Bleeding

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 @ 1:47 PM

11_Common_Causes_of_Rectal_Bleeding.jpeg

Why is there blood in my stool?

It’s a question we never want to ask, but it’s one in vital need of an answer. Even a slight presence of blood in your stool or on the toilet tissue hints that bleeding is occurring in the digestive tract. The darker the appearance of the blood, the higher up on the digestive tract the blood entered the stool. Bright red blood can be the result of anal bleeding or problems in the lower intestinal tract. But this is not an absolute rule by which you can make decisions.

Although bright red blood may suggest that it is from hemorrhoids, sometimes there may be another serious underlying problem. If the physician performs necessary evaluation and decides that the bleeding is from hemorrhoids, that is acceptable. Assuming that the bleeding is from hemorrhoids because is it small amount or because it is bright red in color, or based on someone else’s experience is somewhat risky. There are some patients who may have colon cancer and have minimal or NO  bleeding. The most common symptom of colon cancer is …no symptom!

So please don’t ignore, postpone or assume something when a serious symptom like blood in the stool occurs. Appropriate evaluation gives you peace of mind and relief from your symptoms. Most of these underlying causes have effective management and there is no need to suffer.

The 11 most common causes of rectal bleeding are

  1. Anal fissures, which are small cuts or tears in the lining of the anus, can appear after passing a particularly hard stool.
  2. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lower rectum, which can cause pain, itching, and difficulty sitting, as well as the appearance of bright red blood. The good news is that there is no need for painful surgery in most cases due to recent developments in non-surgical techniques which are easy, pain-free, in-office and very effective.
  3. An anal fistula is a small channel that forms between the anal canal and the skin surrounding the anus. Along with minor bleeding, it can cause swelling, tenderness, and persistent discharge/drainage. Currently, the only remedy for an anal fistula is surgery.
  4. Gastroenteritis is a sudden-onset intestinal infection, which can be viral, bacterial, or parasitic. In addition to blood in the stool, gastroenteritis is characterized by diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever, and body aches. If gastroenteritis recurs or lasts longer than 2 days, we recommend further evaluation by a trained digestive specialist.
  5. Peptic ulcers are sores in the esophagus, stomach, or the lining of the upper part of the small intestine. Depending on the location of the sores, the blood in the stool may appear darker, possibly even black. In addition, you may experience burning pain in the stomach, which worsens as the stomach empties, heartburn, nausea and vomiting, bloating, appetite changes, and weight loss. If left untreated peptic ulcers can cause severe damage to the lining of your digestive system, so please seek help immediately if symptoms of peptic ulcers persist.
  6. Diverticular disease is defined by the development of small bulges—or diverticula—in the lining of the colon. Along with rectal bleeding, diverticular disease—and diverticulitis—include severe abdominal pain, bloating, high fever, and frequent diarrheal bowel movements.
  7. Angiodysplasia occurs more often in older adults and is defined by swollen, fragile blood vessels in the colon. If the swelling worsens, small passages ways can form between the artery and vein, resulting in bleeding from the colon wall, which can manifest as bright red or black blood in the stool. Angiodysplasia is also characterized by weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, and anemia.
  8. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, can cause ulcers, abscesses, and scarring in the intestinal lining over time. Blood in the stool is often accompanied by diarrhea, fever, weight loss, and abdominal pain.
  9. Bleeding varices: When dilated blood vessels (varices) in the esophagus and stomach rupture and bleed, they can be life-threatening. If your black, tarry, or bloody stool is accompanied by vomiting blood, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, or rapid heart rate, seek medical attention immediately. If not addressed, the sufferer can go into shock.
  10. Colon polyps are noncancerous growths in the colon or rectal lining. Though colon polyps are normally asymptomatic, they can cause rectal bleeding, sudden changes in bowel habits, and constipation or diarrhea that lasts for more than a week. Though colon polyps are not necessarily cancerous, they can develop into colon or colorectal cancer, so it’s vital to get screened by a skilled gastroenterologist immediately.
  11. Colon cancer may cause blood in the stool, anywhere from minimal bleeding to significant amount. Sometimes it may not cause any bleeding at all and be completely asymptomatic. Everyone 50 years and above needs SCREENING COLONOSCOPY (done in the absence of symptoms as a prevention/ wellness check) to identify precancerous polyps and remove them before they could become cancer. Sometimes cancer may cause abdominal pain, weight loss or anemia.

While rectal bleeding can be the result of many intestinal or anal issues that are not life-threatening and can resolve themselves, it can also be an early indication of a more severe digestive tract issue. If you are experiencing rectal bleeding, you may want to take the next step in protecting your future with preventative screenings, like colonoscopy.  The Gastroenterology Associates are specialized and highly experienced in screening for, detecting, and treating colorectal cancer and the precursors to colorectal cancer (ie polyps).  Contact the Gastroenterology Associates for an appointment today, either through our online appointment request here or by contacting our office here.

 

Schedule A Visit

Topics: Cancer, Hemmorhoids, Colon Polyps, Irritable Bowel Syndrome

GASTROENTEROLOGY ASSOCIATES WINS THREE NATIONAL SCOPY MARKETING AWARDS FROM ACG

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Oct 16, 2015 @ 11:46 AM

gastro_SCOPY_appleThe American College of Gastroenterology selected the Gastroenterology Associates of Baton Rouge as the winner of three SCOPY awards for their 2014 and 2015 Colorectal Cancer Awareness campaigns.

The winning categories included: “Best Original Communication Campaign by a Private GI Practice,” “Best Infographic from a Private GI Practice” for Get Behind Screening, and “Most Humorous” for the Things that are Scary video. The winning submissions were selected based on scientific accuracy, potential public health impact, educational value, and originality.

The Gastroenterology Associates Marketing Committee, comprised of Dr. Neelima Reddy, Dr. Kirk Mullins, and Dr. Ryan Chauvin, worked closely with a marketing agency also located in Baton Rouge, LA, in the budgeting, planning, and creative review processes to maximize potential reach, stretch allocated budgets, monitor efficacy, and produce impactful, creative content.

The Colorectal Campaigns, Get BEHIND Screening (2014) and Things That Are Scary (2015), spurred from physician-agency meetings and established the end goals of CRC awareness AND of increasing CRC screenings.  Creative concepts, encompassing print, TV, digital, outdoor, peer-to-peer, in-house signage, and website content strategy, were presented, selected, and implemented.

Community awareness events extended to the Get Your Rear in Gear 5K and 1 mile fun run and numerous TV interviews with our physicians. Active promotion of CRC information on blog posts, whitepapers, social platforms, emails, digital ads, and landing pages produced patient appointments and measurable performance data.

Dr William Anderson, of Gastroenterology Associates, states, “We are honored to have been awarded the SCOPY award for excellence in advertisement by the American College Gastroenterology, but we are even more honored to have served the people of Baton Rouge for the last 40 years.  We hope that our community will continue to entrust us with your and your loved ones health care.”

The ACG created the SCOPY awards (Service Award for Colorectal Cancer Outreach Prevention & Year-Round Excellence) as a new way to honor its members for their efforts to promote Colorectal Cancer Awareness. The SCOPY winners will be honored at the College’s 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting in Hawaii.

Click here to view the award-marketing.

15 facts about colorectal cancer

Topics: Cancer, Gastroenterologists

Get Your Rear In Gear Baton Rouge

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 @ 12:11 PM

#fightcoloncancerColon cancer prevention is one of the missions of Gastroenterology Associates.  Making sure that everyone, 50 years old and up, has timely screening for colon cancer in order to reduce the numbers of colon cancer cases and deaths.  If an individual has a family history of polyps or colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn's disease, colon cancer screening should begin at a younger age, usually around age 40.  The American College of Gastroenterology also recommends that African Americans start to be screened at the age of 45.

One of the ways that Gastroenterology Associates informs the general public of these screening guidelines is through the Get Your Rear in Gear 5K.  Since it's inaugural run in 2012, the Get Your Rear In Gear 5K has grown significantly, improving the spread of information on colon cancer and screening.

Dr Neelima Reddy is one of the 5K founders and event directors.  She discusses the race in the video below:

If you'd like to sign up to run or walk the 1 mile fun run or 5K, the link can be accessed here.  The event is free and open to the public from 8 am to noon.  The 1 mile fun run starts at 8:30 and the 5K begins at 9:00 am.  The race will take place on April 18, 2015 at the Pennington Biomedical Research Facility.

Contact Our Colon  Cancer Screening Clinic

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Cancer, Weight Management

Why I Don’t Want A Colonoscopy, Part III

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 @ 9:00 AM

This is part of a series of 3 blog posts whereby a family member (FM) of a patient is having a discussion on colonoscopy and colon cancer screening with a gastroenterologist (D).  Many individuals find reasons to put off their recommended colon cancer screening. Many of these objections to screening are addressed in this series.  If you know someone who is resisting having their screening performed, please print or email them these 3 posts. It could save their life!

colon cancer screening Baton RougeWhy I Don’t Want A Colonoscopy, Part I

Why I Don’t Want A Colonoscopy, Part II

 

FM: I don’t want to take two days off.

D: You don’t have to. You will prep the evening before the procedure. So, you only need the day of the procedure off. You will only be asleep for the duration of the procedure, 20-30 minutes at the most. However, patients cannot drive after the procedure.

 

FM: I don’t want to pay a lot of money. I can’t afford it!

D: Most health insurance companies and Medicare cover 100% of a screening colonoscopy (meaning there are no symptoms) for everyone 50+. Our insurance and billing staff perform a check prior to the procedure and will inform you of your coverage. We are here to assist you with payment plans, etc. as needed.

Also, if you wait until you have symptoms, not only are you jeopardizing your health, but also your wallet. Why? At the point that there are symptoms (rectal bleeding, blood in stool, blood in toilet or on toilet paper, abdominal pain, changes in bowel frequency or consistency),   the colonoscopy will likely be considered diagnostic (meaning it’s performed to evaluate causes of symptoms), and copays or deductible may lead to patients incurring costs.

 

FM: I will think about doing the colonostomy.

D: A colonoscopy is the procedure we talked about. A colostomy is an opening of the colon on to the skin, with a bag covering it. A colonostomy or a colonoscophy are the most seen misspellings of colonoscopy.  

 So, now that we have handled all of your objections to colonoscopy, here is the phone number to call and schedule your colonoscopy. (225.927.1190) Patients do not need a referral from your doctor. The Open Access Colonoscopy Screening Clinic nurse will provide instruction and schedule you, provided you do not have any other symptoms.  If you do have symptoms, we can help schedule a consult appointment with one of our 17 board certified gastroenterologist in the clinic.

(D: To Self: Good! One more life saved, but I am now late for my next patient! Time to hurry, hurry, hurry!!)

 

Get Behind Screening!

Everyone should strongly consider having colon cancer screening procedures performed at a high volume center where the staff is most experienced and well-trained. Recent research indicates that the best outcomes happen when a colonoscopy is performed by a board-certified gastroenterologist, as opposed to other physicians with less colonoscopy volume and subsequently less experience.  

 Board-certified gastroenterologists are trained for better detection and removal of polyps and appropriate treatment of any conditions noted, than other types of providers who may be just able to do a procedure. Gastroenterology Associates is dedicated to performing only gastrointestinal procedures with utmost levels of precision and care.  

With the largest group of board-certified gastroenterologists in Baton Rouge and surrounding regions, our facility and services are meant to help patients achieve their best digestive health and to prevent colon cancer through timely screening. If you haven’t had your preventative screening for colon cancer, call us at 225.927.1190 or use the link below to schedule with one of our great doctors!

Contact Our Colon  Cancer Screening Clinic  

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Cancer, Gastroenterologists, Colonoscopy

Why I Don't Want A Colonoscopy, Part II

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 @ 10:59 AM

This is part of a series of 3 blog posts whereby a family member (FM) of a patient is having a discussion on colonoscopy and colon cancer screeningwith a gastroenterologist (D).  Many individuals find reasons to put off their recommended colon cancer screening. Many of these objections to screening are addressed in this series.  If you know someone who is resisting having their screening performed, please print or email them these 3 posts. It could save their life!

Why I Don’t Want A Colonoscopy, Part I

  

excuses for no colonoscopyFM: I am afraid of going to sleep.  I hate to be out of control of my own body.

D: It is a short procedure where patients wake up right after the procedure and talk to their doctor. The sedation does not make you sleepy all day.

You are, in fact, more in control of your body and health by doing a colonoscopy, because you have taken appropriate measures to protect against future illness and cancer.

 

FM: I am afraid I won’t wake up, like Michael Jackson… or not be able to breathe. I have sleep apnea!

D: You should be concerned about sleep apnea and snoring- concerned enough to take action, lose weight, or see your physician for appropriate measures to help you.

You should be concerned about your breathing and oxygen levels every night you go to sleep, with sleep apnea and snoring

You should not be concerned about sleep apnea during the procedure. Trained staff monitors your oxygen levels, blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate continuously during the procedure, so we can prevent and treat any problems that may arise. In fact, the scenario of sleeping during colonoscopy is one of the best you can undergo with sleep apnea, if there is one. You are assured of your safety, more than an unmonitored setting at home.

If there is any indication of an episode of sleep apnea during the procedure, even if you were not aware of it previously, we will inform you so that you can take care of the problem.

We monitor while you are medicated and it is all carried out by appropriately trained staff with adequate monitoring and necessary equipment.

 

FM: My friend didn't do it until he was 70 and he did not have any problems.

D: Chances are good that you don’t have your friend’s genes or his diet. So, you can’t compare your circumstances to theirs.

 Studies, comprised of thousands of patients, have shown that the risk of polyps is higher in people after 50 years of age. So, the national societies have set guidelines for everyone to follow.

 

FM: Yes, I know!  My mother had polyps when she was 58.

D: Now, you are talking!  Although the recommended screening age for the general population is 50, if you have a first degree family member- parents, brothers/sisters, children- who’ve had colon cancer or polyps (as these could become cancer), you should start your screening colonoscopy at 40 years. Most insurance companies follow these guidelines which is important for coverage of your colon cancer screening.

 

FM: I don’t want any pain. My friend had a lot of pain when he did it

D: Here’s your family member, waking from a delightful “nap,” safe and well-rested. It doesn’t look like there was any pain. We are beyond the days of pain. Safe, effective sedation, adjusted per your needs, largely sees to that. Also, a well-trained gastroenterologist, who performs a high volume of procedures daily, should know how to avoid incurring pain for the patient and safely complete the procedure.

 

FM: I heard of someone who had a problem after colonoscopy.

D: Complications are uncommon. Serious complications are even rarer after a colonoscopy. Any procedure may have potential complications.  The risk of an auto accident is higher than the risk of a colonoscopy complication. If that fear doesn’t keep you from driving, you should not avoid a colonoscopy.

 

FM: I don’t want surgery.

D: That’s why you should do a screening colonoscopy when suggested. Surgery is generally only necessitated for patients that wait until their condition is severe, and it is too late.  These patients may have part of their colon removed and end up with a colostomy, which is “the bag” attached to colon through the abdominal wall.

 By doing a preventive procedure, we can prevent colon cancer and surgery. If an early cancer is found before symptoms occur, it could be removed completely during colonoscopy or by minimally invasive surgery without the need for a colostomy in most cases.

 

FM: I want my colonoscopy in a private room.

D: Each patient has a dedicated nurse, technician, anesthesia provider, and a doctor who will care for you in a private room during the procedure. Our admitting and recovery staff are well trained and experienced to meet your needs before and following the procedure.

 Get Behind Screening!

Everyone should strongly consider having colon cancer screening procedures performed at a high volume center where the staff is most experienced and well-trained. Recent research indicates that the best outcomes happen when a colonoscopy is performed by a board-certified gastroenterologist, as opposed to other physicians with less colonoscopy volume and subsequently less experience.  

 Board-certified gastroenterologists are trained for better detection and removal of polyps and appropriate treatment of any conditions noted, than other types of providers who may be just able to do a procedure. Gastroenterology Associates is dedicated to performing only gastrointestinal procedures with utmost levels of precision and care.  

With the largest group of board-certified gastroenterologists in Baton Rouge and surrounding regions, our facility and services are meant to help patients achieve their best digestive health and to prevent colon cancer through timely screening. If you haven’t had your preventative screening for colon cancer, call us at 225.927.1190 or use the link below to schedule with one of our great doctors!

Contact Our Colon  Cancer Screening Clinic  

 Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

 

Topics: Cancer, Colonoscopy

Why I Don't Want A Colonoscopy, Part I

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 @ 4:11 PM

This is part of a series of 3 blog posts whereby a family member of a patient and a gastroenterologist are having a discussion on colonoscopy and colon cancer screening.  Many individuals find reasons to put off their recommended colon cancer screening. Here, we address those objections.  If you know someone who is resisting having their screening performed, please print or email them these 3 posts. It could save their life!

 

 Several recent studies have found that married couples (and individuals in unmarried relationships) had a higher rate of colon cancer screening compared to single, divorced, and widowed individuals.  Frequently, spouses bring partners in for screening, and occasionally, challenges or group mentality can be the driving force. It’s not uncommon to hear “my wife made me come in” or “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” 

why i dont want colonoscopy Females plan many of the health care initiatives and schedule appointments in many households, so it seems to work out in favor of those husbands in these “coupled” relationships with better screening rates.  It appears that when couples near the 50 year old benchmark for first screenings (40-45 for African Americans or people with family/personal histories or IBD), they take a team mentality in screening, going in together.

 On the other side of the coin, doctors also encounter spouses/ family members that come to take patients home after their colonoscopy. When asked if they have had their colon cancer screening, luckily, most of them have been screened in a timely and scheduled fashion.  

 However, there are a few that resist scheduling their screening.   Conversations with these family members typically go like this:

 

D (Doctor): Have you had your colonoscopy as well?

FM (Family Member): Oh no! I am not going to do that.

D: Why not?

FM: I don’t think I need it.

D: Everyone 50 years and older needs a screening colonoscopy.

FM: Well, I don’t want it.

D: But you need it.

FM: I feel fine. I don’t have any problems.

D: That’s why you need it, to keep you that way! Screening colonoscopy is a preventive measure, part of your wellness checks. Someone might not have symptoms from high blood pressure or cholesterol, but tests can reveal them! Similarly, colon polyps, and even colon cancer, do not always cause symptoms. 

 

FM: I am scared.

D: Scared of what?

FM: Of what I am going to find out.  I don’t want any bad news.

D: If you do a screening colonoscopy at 50, or sooner if you have a family member who has had colon cancer or polyps, then we can detect and effectively remove pre-cancerous polyps or even early cancer. Prevention and early diagnosis are more effective and much less scary than waiting for symptoms.

 

FM: I am afraid of drinking “that gallon stuff”.

D: There are several new prep options that are small in quantity and very effective. We have some tricks for an improved taste as well. Remember: the effort you put in one day of colon cleansing gives you peace of mind for 5-10 years and it could save your life!

Another positive perspective is that you might feel better after a complete cleanse and reduce your chance of having colon cancer. Many people in the general population pay good money for “colon cleanses” and “detoxes”.

***The next post in this series will publish on March 19,2015*** 

Get Behind Screening!

 Everyone should strongly consider having colon cancer screening procedures performed at a high volume center where the staff is most experienced and well-trained. Recent research indicates that the best outcomes happen when a colonoscopy is performed by a board-certified gastroenterologist, as opposed to other physicians with less colonoscopy volume and subsequently less experience.  

 Board-certified gastroenterologists are trained for better detection and removal of polyps and appropriate treatment of any conditions noted, than other types of providers who may be just able to do a procedure. Gastroenterology Associates is dedicated to performing only gastrointestinal procedures with utmost levels of precision and care.  

 With the largest group of board-certified gastroenterologists in Baton Rouge and surrounding regions, our facility and services are meant to help patients achieve their best digestive health and to prevent colon cancer through timely screening. If you haven’t had your preventative screening for colon cancer, call us at 225.927.1190 or use the link below to schedule with one of our great doctors!

Contact Our Colon  Cancer Screening Clinic  

 Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Cancer, Colonoscopy

This Appointment Can Save Your Life

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Mar 06, 2015 @ 3:50 PM

colon cancer screening Baton RougeColorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the US.  It is also the 3rd leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women.  This doesn’t have to be the case.  With proper screening and early detection, colorectal cancer is 90% preventable.  It's important to have a basic understanding of colorectal cancer and its prevention.

How Common is it?

Colorectal cancer occurs in the colon (or large intestine) or rectum, at the end of the digestive system.  Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in men and women in the United States, behind skin and lung cancers. The American Cancer Society estimates that 136,830 diagnoses and 50,310 deaths can be attributed to colorectal cancer in 2014. 

The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer is 1 in 20 (or 5%).   The American Cancer Society and Gastroenterology Associates have launched massive awareness campaigns to educate at-risk populations about timely screening to reduce the rates of diagnosis and death from colorectal cancer.

How Does Colorectal Cancer Happen?

Before cancers grow, precancerous polyps develop. These polyps, which lie on the walls of the colon or rectum, aren't cancerous, but have the potential to become cancerous later on. Once cancer starts to develop, it usually develops slowly, over the course of a decade or longer. 

Colonoscopy, the most effective and complete screening, has the ability to remove polyps during the procedure and cut the risk of them developing further into colon cancer. Left unchecked, these polyps can become cancer and more difficult to treat.

Who's at Risk?

Certain groups have a higher risk of colorectal cancer. These groups should receive timely screening and adhere to the recommended screening guidelines. Making lifestyle changes to help lower risks are advisable when modifiable. Risk factors include:

  • Age over 50
  • African-American ethnicity
  • Obesity
  • Diet low in fiber and high in fat
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Personal history of colon cancer or polyps

Is it Preventable?

Colorectal cancer is preventable. When polyps are detected early, they can be removed before they become cancerous. In addition, people in high-risk groups can make lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising.

On top of prevention, colon cancer is most treatable when caught early.  If colon cancer is caught in the earliest stages (Stage 1), when it is most easily treated and removed, the prognosis is best – 90% of these cases will survive 5 years or more.  As colon cancer spreads, the survival rates decline, making early detection the vital component of survival.

What are the Symptoms?

Patients with colorectal cancer may experiences changes in their bowel habits, discomfort, or blood in the stool. These symptoms are all significant and warrant investigation by a professional. However, the majority of cases are asymptomatic, meaning that colorectal cancer can be progressing without ever producing any symptoms. 

Some symptoms of colon cancer can be symptoms of other digestive health issues. For example, blood in the stool may be a symptom of colorectal cancer or hemorrhoids, but neither of these should be left to the individual for diagnosis. An examination by a board-certified gastroenterologist, like the ones at Gastroenterology Associates, will provide concrete answers to the cause of symptoms and a course of action for any treatments.

All About Screening

 For most people, screening starts at age 50, but your doctor may recommend earlier, more frequent screening. The colonoscopy is the most effective screening tool, and should be performed every 10 years starting at age 50 (between age 40 and 45 for African Americans and for those with family or personal histories of polyps or colorectal cancer). During a colonoscopy, the doctor can detect and possibly remove any polyps, as well as take a biopsy of any abnormal growths in the colon. A sigmoidoscopy should be performed every 5 years. A fecal occult blood test should be performed each year.

Most health insurances and Medicare cover wellness visits and preventative screenings, so schedule your colorectal cancer screening when advised. The Open Access Screening Clinic at Gastroenterology Associates eases the process of colorectal cancer screening. Call for your appointment or click the link below. 225 .927.1190

Schedule A Consultation Gastroenterology Associates

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Cancer

Prediabetes / Insulin Resistance and Colon Cancer Linked

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, Dec 09, 2014 @ 1:00 PM

Prediabetes_and_colon_canerPrediabetes, a state of elevated blood sugar that can lead to diabetes as time goes on, is most obviously associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes. However, there are a number of other conditions that prediabetic patients are at an elevated risk of developing, including colon cancer. Given the health consequences of prediabetes, it is important to carefully manage prediabetes.

Prediabetes Basics

Prediabetes is a state in which blood sugar is consistently elevated, but not enough to be classified as diabetes. Prediabetes is sometimes referred to as insulin resistance, which means that the body is becoming less receptive to insulin, which keeps blood sugar in check in healthy individuals. The condition is also known as metabolic syndrome, syndrome X, and borderline diabetes. 

Prediabetes is closely related to obesity. Although not all obese people develop metabolic syndrome, they are much more likely to do so than people with a healthy body weight.

Obesity, Prediabetes, and Diabetes in Louisiana

Louisiana faces higher than average rates of being overweight, obesity, and diabetes. According to The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, Louisiana has the 6th highest rate of overweight and obese individuals in the nation. About one-third of Louisiana adults are obese, a rate which has risen dramatically in recent years. 

Louisiana also ranks 6th highest in the rate of diabetes, with over 11 percent of Louisiana adults living with diabetes. Cases of heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and other obesity-related conditions are expected to rise along with the rate of obesity.

Lifestyle is the single biggest factor in maintaining a healthy weight and preventing the development of prediabetes and diabetes. A sedentary lifestyle and a diet high in fat, refined grains, and sugar contribute to obesity and prediabetes. 

The Link Between Prediabetes and Colon Cancer

A recent review of 16 studies found that prediabetes is strongly linked with colon cancer. The study looked at nearly 900,000 individuals and found that people with prediabetes were twice as likely to develop colon cancer as healthy individuals.

In people with prediabetes, the overall risk of cancer is 15 percent higher. When the results were adjusted for body mass index (BMI), prediabetes was associated with a 22 percent higher risk of cancer.

There are several possible reasons for the link. One strong theory is that people with prediabetes have insulin resistance, which causes the body to produce higher amounts of insulin-like proteins, which promote the growth of cancer.

Controlling Prediabetes and Preventing Colon Cancer

By preventing or controlling prediabetes, it is possible to reduce one's risk of developing colon cancer. Blood sugar-reducing medications such as metformin are sometimes used to control diabetes.

Although medication is a valuable part of treatment, it is usually possible to reverse prediabetes using only lifestyle changes. With lifestyle changes, many prediabetic patients become more sensitive to insulin and can come off medication. This is preferable because it addresses the whole problem, and prevents medication side effects like diarrhea. 

Important lifestyle changes for managing prediabetes include: 

  • Weight loss - even losing as little at 10% of one's body weight can have a huge impact
  • Exercise - promotes weight loss and lowers blood sugar. Exercise makes the muscles take up more glucose and reduce blood sugar, thus making them more “sensitive” to insulin, hence this is the opposite of insulin “resistance”
  • Diet high in fiber, low in sugar, and low in refined grains can prevent blood sugar spikes and promote weight loss

Routine screening is another key tool for the prevention of colon cancer. To schedule your consultation with the Gastroenterology Associates, please click below and enter your information or give us a call at (225) 927-1190. 

Schedule A Consultation Gastroenterology Associates

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Cancer, Common Stomach Problems, Weight Management

Polyps and Colonoscopy in Baton Rouge

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 @ 3:47 PM

On Polyps and Previous Colonoscopies

colon Baton RougeA patient's report of a previous colonoscopy as, “it was normal” or “it showed such and such” is not sufficent and may suggest something entirely different when said in non-medical terms. Many patients say they had polyps but “they were nothing”, “they were benign”, or “they were not cancerous”. These statements leave the gastroenterologist totally in the dark on the actual medical history.

Polyps are growths in the colon (large intestine) that may grow and possibly become cancer. When seen during colonoscopy (sometimes mis-spelled or mis-pronounced as colonostomy or colonoscophy or colostomy), polyps are removed, assuming they are PRE-CANCEROUS, as most polyps are. Polyps should never be referred to as CANCEROUS, because if it has cancer, then it is considered colon cancer at that point, not a polyp anymore. It is for this reason that polyps are always BENIGN (which means it does not have cancer in it).

Polyps and Future Medical Care

 Polyps are nothing to worry about once they are removed, but it also means that you need follow-up colonoscopy exams to look for any more polyps that may develop in the future. Once you had polyps, it is important to do colonoscopies a little more frequently, about every 3-5 years, than if you never had a polyp.

If you have a family history of colon cancer or polyps in close relatives, it is also a reason to perform this exam more frequently, about every 5 years. When to perform a repeat colonoscopy depends on several factors, some of which you may not be able to adequately communicate to your doctor, hence the need to have the actual report of previous colonoscopy and pathology reports. These would confirm if your polyps were precancerous or not. Repeat colonoscopy depends on:

  • Presence of precancerous polyps
  • How well your bowel prep was performed (i.e. how clean your colon was- small amount of stool, corn, seeds, etc. limit a full exam)
  • If you have any inflammation in the colon such as Crohn’s or Colitis, when you may need frequent exams
  • If your polyp was completely removed
  • If your colon was completely examined, as sometimes the end may not be reached due to several reasons
  • Your family history of colon cancer or polyps
  • Your pathology report to confirm the nature of polyps

 Contact the Gastroenterology Associates to discuss any of this information further. We will be happy to direct you in your quest for digestive health and treatment of any GI problems in Baton Rouge.  Please call for an appointment at 225.927.1190.

15 facts about colorectal cancer

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Cancer, Colon Polyps