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Gastroenterology Blog

How Do Polyps Play Into Colon Cancer?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Oct 03, 2014 @ 3:51 PM

colon_polyp_removal_Baton_RougeColon polyps are noncancerous growths in the lining of the colon or rectum. Although polyps are not cancerous in and of themselves, they can become cancerous later on. Screening for colon polyps can help prevent the development of colon cancer, by allowing thier removal before they turn into cancer.

Colon Polyps Can Become Cancerous

On their own, polyps are not cancerous. However, if they mutate and begin to grow out of control, they can become cancerous. When someone says they had “benign” polyps, they are right in that the polyps are not “malignant” (meaning cancer). Most of the time they are PRE-cancerous polyps, even when they are benign. That implies the need for more frequent surveillance to look for more polyps in the future, as well as screening their family members earlier, mostly at 40 years of age, instead of 50.

There are two types of polyps: raised and flat. Flat polyps are both more difficult to detect and more likely to turn into cancer.

Polyps Do Not Usually Cause Symptoms

Colon polyps do not usually cause any symptoms, and the same is true of early-stage colon cancer. The fact that polyps do not cause symptoms in most cases is one reason why screening is so important. The “Don’t fix it if it’s not broke” doesn’t work in the colon, because the cancer may be advanced by the time it causes symptoms.

In some cases, people with colon polyps do develop symptoms. All of the symptoms can also indicate other colon problems, including colon cancer, so it is important to see a doctor if you notice:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Sudden changes in bowel habits, like frequent constipation or diarrhea
  • More than a week of constipation or diarrhea

Your doctor can determine if these symptoms are from colon cancer or other causes such as hemorrhoids or inflammation in the colon,etc.

Polypectomy

One of the major goals of routine colonoscopy is to screen for colon polyps. The procedure is used as a screening tool for all people over 50, as well as some other at-risk groups. Because colon polyps have the potential to become cancerous later on, their removal can prevent the development of cancer.

During a colonoscopy, the doctor views the inside of the colon, looking for growths areas of inflammation and colon polyps. If the colonoscopy reveals colon polyps, polypectomy can actually be performed during the colonoscopy.

What to Expect During a Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is quick to perform, has very little downtime, and is not painful. If you hear someone say their colonoscopy was painful, it must have been in the days before their sedation. Currently anesthesia is provided by a trained professional and you are completely comfortable. Most people wake up after the procedure asking when we are going to start. It is important to have a trained person administer your anesthesia, so they can monitor you carefully during the procedure.

The night before the procedure, you refrain from eating and drink a solution that makes you go to the bathroom frequently until the bowel is completely empty. Most people have concerns about the prep but recent developments have reduced the quantity and improved the quality of the prep. Your doctor can determine the prep that is best suited for you.

During the procedure, you will be placed under sedation, which prevents you from feeling or remembering anything. Once you are sedated, the doctor inserts a thin tube with a camera on the end, known as a colonoscope, into the colon. The colonoscope produces a video of the inside of the colon. If colon polyps are found, polypectomy is performed. If larger abnormalities are detected, the doctor can take a biopsy.

After the colonoscopy, you can return to almost all normal eating and activities immediately. The only exception is related to the use of sedation, which can impair judgment and reaction times. People who have sedation must wait 24 hours to drive, operate heavy machinery, or sign contracts.

If you would like to schedule a Baton Rouge colonoscopy or a consultation about bowel health, please contact us at Gastroenterology Associates by calling (225) 927-1190 or by clicking here for an online appointment request.

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, Colonoscopy

What causes esophageal cancer?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, Apr 08, 2014 @ 11:04 AM

throat cancer baton rougeEsophageal cancer affects the esophagus, the long tube that takes food from the back of the throat to the stomach. Esophageal cancer can take the form of either squamous cell carcinoma, which affects the flat cells that line the esophagus; or adenocarcinoma, which affects the cells that secrete mucous. 

Anyone can get esophageal cancer, regardless of whether or not they have risk factors; similarly, some people with many risk factors never get esophageal cancer. However, there are a number of risk factors that can significantly increase the risk of esophageal cancer: 

  • Gender - Men are three times as likely to develop esophageal disorders as women
  • Age - As with most cancers, the risk of esophageal cancer is highest after 65
  • Tobacco - Using any form of tobacco, including cigars, cigarettes, and chewing tobacco, increases the risk of esophageal cancer. The effect is more pronounced when use is higher and goes on for longer
  • Alcohol - High intake of alcohol increases your risk. The risk is particularly magnified for people who smoke and drink regularly
  • Diet - Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables lowers your risk, while eating a diet high in processed meats may increase your risk. Overeating is also associated with an increased risk.
  • Obesity - Obese people are more likely to develop esophageal cancer
  • Gastroesophageal reflex disorder (GERD) - Apart from immediate effects such as discomfort, and relatively short-term effects such as oral problems, GERD is associated with a higher risk of esophageal cancer. The risk is higher the longer you have the condition and the more severe the symptoms are
  • Barrett's Esophagus - People with chronic GERD can develop Barrett's Esophagus, in which the squamous cells of the lower esophagus are replaced by gland cells more associated with the small intestine. This condition is associated with a significant increase in the risk of other esophageal disorders, like cancer
  • Achalasia - If the sphincter between the esophagus and stomach doesn't relax properly, it can't stretch out all the time. Food then sits in the lower esophagus, causing irritation. Achalasia is a major risk factor for esophageal cancer 

If you have heartburn symptoms for more than 5 years or if you are 50 years old or older, our endoscopy may identify precancerous conditions like Barrett’s esophagus and assist in early detection or prevention of esophageal cancer.

Like all cancers, esophageal cancer is easiest to treat when it is detected early. For that reason, you should see a doctor as soon as possible if you start to develop symptoms of esophageal cancer. Some of the most common symptoms include pain or difficulty swallowing; weight loss; chest pain; coughing; hoarseness; and heartburn. 

To schedule a consultation with Baton Rouge's top gastroenterologists, please contact us at 225.927.1190 or click here for an appointment.  

Why should I visit a gastroenterologist

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 Cancer Symptoms

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

colon cancer Baton RougeColon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States. It's important to be attuned to symptoms that could indicate colon cancer. However, the condition is notorious for being asymptomatic.

Potential Symptoms

In some cases, patients with colorectal cancer start to experience symptoms. Possible symptoms include:

•             A change in bowel habits, such as persistent diarrhea or constipation

•             Abdominal pain, possibly accompanied by bloating and cramps

•             Feeling unable to void the bowel

•             Blood in the stool, rectal bleeding, or black, tarry stools

•             Unexplained weight loss

•             Persistent, unexplained weakness or fatigue

If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to contact your physician. Your doctor will perform diagnostic testing to determine the exact cause. All of the above symptoms can also indicate less serious conditions, like hemorrhoids, infection, or inflammatory bowel disease.

Colon Cancer is Often Symptomless

Although some patients do experience symptoms, the majority of patients with early-stage colon cancer don't experience any symptoms at all. That's why screening is so important for the early detection and prevention of colon cancer.

Who Needs Screening?

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 are used to screen for cancer. Fecal occult blood 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.

Sigmoidoscopy 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. A colonoscopy is the strongest tool for early detection of cancer, and lets the doctor look at the inside of the entire colon. It should be performed every 10 years starting at age 50. Any of these tests may also be used to help diagnose the cause of your gastrointestinal symptoms.

Patients at an elevated risk of colon cancer 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.

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

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

Colonoscopies in Baton Rouge

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 @ 2:43 PM

colonoscopies in Baton RougeIn the fight against colorectal cancer, the colonoscopy is one of the most valuable tools. Although colonoscopies only need to be performed every once in a while, they prove to be extremely useful for detecting and preventing colon cancer.   Colonoscopies unfortunately carry a bit of a social stigma for being embarrassing or possibly painful.  Many individuals who have had colonoscopies performed will attest to the fact that the procedure is largely pain-free, and the preparatory options have improved drastically in recent years as well.  The doctors who perform colonoscopies at Gastroenterology Associates have years of training and experience with colonoscopies, and they treat them much like an orthopedist would an injured joint or a dermatologist would a skin condition.

Importance of a Colonoscopy

Most of the time, people with colon cancer don't experience any symptoms. This is especially true in the early stages of the disease. At the same time, detecting the disease as soon as possible is a priority, because this reduces the chances of pre-cancerous or cancerous growths developing further and improves prognosis.

Therefore, doctors rely on timely screening to detect colon cancer early. There are three main screening tools: fecal occult blood test, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy. A fecal occult blood test involves laboratory analysis of stool samples; a sigmoidoscopy allows the doctor to view the inside of the nearest part of your rectum and colon; and a colonoscopy allows the doctor to see the entire colon.

A colonoscopy is the most precise and comprehensive test. Since it lets doctors view the entire colon, the potential for detection is the highest. In addition, it's possible to perform biopsies and remove polyps during a colonoscopy. That's why, even if you're getting your other recommended screenings, it's still important to get your colonoscopy.

Who Needs Colonoscopies?

At-risk groups should get colonoscopies and other colon cancer screenings according to the recommended timelines of the American College of Gastroenterology and the American Cancer Society. Most organizations recommend the following:

•             Fecal occult blood testing every year starting at age 50

•             Sigmoidoscopy every 5 years starting at age 50

•             Colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50, 45 if you are African American

•             More frequent, earlier screening for people with medical conditions or a family history that increases the risk of colon cancer

Studies show that colorectal cancer rates are lower, and survival rates are higher, in populations where the majority of people undergo the recommended screenings.  This fact doesn’t bode well for Louisiana residents, as we rank 46th in the nation for timely screening of at-risk groups.  Further detrimental impacts to Louisianaians, in terms of colon cancer risks, are our state’s high obesity rates and generally high fat diets.

What Kind of Doctor?

Many general practitioners offer colonoscopies, sigmoidoscopies, and other types of colon cancer screening. However, the best option is to go to a board-certified gastroenterologist. There are a number of advantages to this:

•             More skill in performing the procedure

•             Lower margin of error in diagnosing issues

•             Fewer pre-cancerous polyps overlooked

•             Ability to keep going to the same doctor for treatment if any issues are detected

Baton Rouge Doctors Who Perform Colonoscopies

The team of experts at the Gastroenterology Associates would be happy to schedule your colonoscopy, as well as any necessary digestive health screenings. To schedule your consultation today, please fill out the contact form here and we will get right back to you.  You can also reach our scheduling team for a visit to our Colon Cancer Screening clinic by calling 225.927.1190.

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

What do I need to Know About Colon Cancer?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 @ 2:57 PM

facts on colon cancerColon cancer is a leading cause of cancer and of cancer deaths. It is the third leading cause of deaths in the US and the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths.  This doesn’t have to be the case.  With proper screening and early detection, colon cancer is 90% preventable.  It's important to have a basic understanding of colorectal cancer and its prevention. Below, we'll explore some of the basic facts you should know.

How Common is it?

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in men and women in the United States, behind skin and lung cancers. Each year, over 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with the condition. Sadly, an estimated 52,000 Americans will die from colon cancer this year.  The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with colon cancer is 1 in 20.  Colon cancer is a major health concern.  The American Cancer Society has launched massive awareness campaigns to educate at-risk populations about getting screened in order to reduce the rates of diagnosis and death of colon cancer.

How Does it Start?

Before cancer occurs, 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.

Who's at Risk?

Certain groups have a higher risk of colorectal cancer. These groups should be screened more frequently, and should consider making lifestyle changes to help lower their risk. 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 cancer colon 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 colon 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.

How is it Screened?

People who are at an elevated risk for colorectal cancer should be screened regularly. For most people, screening starts at age 50, but your doctor may recommend earlier, more frequent screening in some cases. The colonoscopy is the most effective screening tool, and should be performed every 10 years starting at age 50 (earlier for some). 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.

To schedule your routine colorectal cancer screening, please contact the physicians with Gastroenterology Associates at the Digestive Health Center of Louisiana in Baton Rouge by clicking here and filling out the form or by calling 225.927.1190.

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

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month!

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 @ 10:40 AM

Gastroenterology Associates Baton RougeGastroenterology Associates are a group of specialists who deal with the health and diseases of the digestive system.  The problems treated by a gastroenterologist can range from GERD (acid reflux) to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. But during the month of March, a nation-wide push for awareness of colorectal cancer, another disease treated by the team at Gastroenterology Associates, becomes a major local focus too.  Colon Cancer Awareness has been a huge initiative for the American Cancer Society in recent years, because it is such a preventable disease.  March has even been recognized by the president as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Colorectal Cancer is cancer of the colon and/or rectum and usually develops over a period of years and starts as pre-cancerous colon polyps.  An individual has approximately a 1 in 20 chance of being diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime.  However, colorectal cancer is one of the MOST PREVENTABLE cancers, with up to 90% possibly avoided with early detection.  For this reason, your Baton Rouge gastroenterologists, at Gastroenterology Associates, have launched a massive awareness campaign on a local level to work to get the attention of at-risk individuals.

Who’s at risk for Colorectal Cancer?

Over 90% of all colorectal cancer cases occur in individuals over the age of 50.  This is where screening should begin, but due to recent research on colorectal cancer variances in race, the American College of Gastroenterology recommends that screening begin at age 45 for African-Americans.  Also, there are several risk factors for the disease, some modifiable and some not, that might predispose an individual to colorectal cancer, and these can include:

  • Family History/ First Degree Relative with Colorectal Cancer- increases risk 2-3 times
  • Personal History of genetic syndrome, such as Lynch or Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
  • Personal History of Colorectal Cancer- increased risk of recurrence
  • Personal History of Colon Polyps, especially if polyps were large or multiple
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease, such as Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis
  • Diabetes
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Being Overweight or Obese
  • Poor Diet
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol Consumption

What Does This Mean To Me?

Every year, over 140,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and over 50,000 Americans will dies from the disease annually.  Estimates place the number of colorectal cancer deaths that could have been prevented with timely screening at about half of the annual deaths.  Colorectal cancer screening, optimally done with a colonoscopy performed by a board-certified gastroenterologist, can detect pre-cancerous polyps, and they can be removed before turning into cancer.  This is when screening becomes a life-saving procedure.  More importantly still, colonoscopy and other screening tests also help to find colorectal cancer, preferably early while still most treatable and has the best prognosis.

 Screening reduces mortality both by decreasing incidence and by detecting cancers at earlier, more treatable stages. The goals of screening for colorectal cancer are the prevention of cancer through the detection and removal of precancerous growths and the diagnosis of cancers at an early stage. 

How Can I Get Screened For Colorectal Cancer?

Louisiana ranks 46th in the nation for timely screening of at-risk individuals for colon cancer.  Despite the many reasons that could be contributing to the lag in proper and on-time screening of Louisianans, the colon cancer doctors at Gastroenterology Associates have tried to make gaining access to screening as easy as possible. The Colon Cancer Screening clinic, sometimes called the Open Access Clinic, is set up specifically for individuals looking to be screened. The colon cancer screening clinic in Baton Rouge does not require a physician’s referral, but eligible patients should meet the following criteria:

  • Must be 50 years of age or have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps
  • Must be in general good health
  • No previous colonoscopy or 5-7 years since last colonoscopy
  • If medical problems are detected during this screening visit, patients will be scheduled for an evaluation by one of our physicians

If you meet the above criteria, please click the button below to fill out an online request for appointment or call (225) 927-1190 now to schedule your free pre-procedure evaluation at our Colon Cancer Screening Clinic.  Let’s Get BEHIND Screening!

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

What is a colonoscopy?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Fri, Mar 07, 2014 @ 11:50 AM

colonoscopy Baton RougeA colonoscopy is a medical test used to screen for colon cancer and other bowel issues. During a colonoscopy, a camera is used to view the inner lining of your large intestine and rectum. Colonoscopies should be performed routinely in a number of populations, as we'll explore below.

The Basics

To perform a colonoscopy, your doctor will thread a camera on a thin tube through the colon. Prior to a colonoscopy, you'll undergo a colon cleanse for 1-2 days, in which you'll take a solution that helps you clear out the intestines. During the colonoscopy, you will be placed under mild sedation and anesthesia, so you won't feel or remember the procedure.

Your doctor will look for:

  • Tumors
  • Polyps
  • Inflammation
  • Ulcers
  • Bleeding

From there, the information will be used to support a diagnosis, plan for treatment, or order more tests.

Who Needs It

Colon cancer and polyps are more common in people over 50, so routine colonoscopies are recommended every several years for all people over 50. Your doctor may recommend that you have a colonoscopy more often if you have a history of cancer or polyps, or a family history of colon cancer. In addition, your doctor may order a colonoscopy based on symptoms like bleeding, pain, or weight loss.

Why It's Important

Having your recommended colonoscopy is absolutely essential to your long-term health. Colon cancer is very treatable, especially when it's caught early on or before polyps actually develop into cancer. Colon cancer is a leading cause of cancer and death, and colonoscopies can help prevent and treat many cases.

Many people are reluctant to get their colonoscopy because they fear it will be uncomfortable, painful, or embarrassing. It's true that the process of cleaning out the colon prior to the procedure can be uncomfortable; you may experience loose stools and diarrhea. Despite this, neither the procedure nor the preparation should be actively painful.

During the procedure, your doctor will work to ensure that you have privacy and are as comfortable as possible. Doctors view the colon as just another body part, and see the colon and rectum every day; however, your doctor will understand your discomfort and take steps to combat it.

A colonoscopy is a simple screening procedure that can save lives. It is relatively quick to undergo, and can help you identify bowel issues before you have serious symptoms and complications. If you are over 50, have other risk factors, or have been recommended to do so by your physician, you should schedule a colonoscopy as soon as possible.

To schedule your colon cancer screening today, please contact one of the doctors at Gastroenterology Associates at (225) 927-1190.

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

How Race Affects a Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 @ 3:48 PM

how race affects a colorectal cancer diagnosisWhen issues of health and wellness are presented, clearly delineated differences between groups of individuals diagnosed with and surviving cancer are apparent.  Why would one group of individuals fare better than others in avoiding a cancer diagnosis?  How are some patients, who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, better able to make it to the “survivor” stage than others? 

Fortunately, organizations like the Centers for Disease Control, The American Cancer Society, and the Colon Cancer Alliance have been tracking the numbers of cases for years and have compiled this data into easily identifiable trends.  These trends, that occur within large sectors of the population, can be attributed to a stimulus that prompts action, and action then shifts the numbers of incidence or mortality.  In the case of colorectal cancer, that stimulus is the push for proper and timely screening and awareness campaigns for the prevention of the disease.

The past 30 years have seen response by properly informed communities who seek out screening for colorectal cancer, a disease that is 90% preventable when screened for and treated.  Most new cases (approximately 90%) are diagnosed in individuals over the age of 50.  Therefore, effective screening starts with recommendations to and education of this 50+ group, which has resulted in declining incidence and mortality trends seen since 1980.

The United States is a landscape of varying people, and those people, due to differing backgrounds, family impacts, education, socioeconomic influences, and access to healthcare, have a huge range in the percentage of individuals within a race who seek screening for, are diagnosed with, and succumb to colorectal cancer.  The impacts of race on a colorectal cancer diagnosis and the survival rates beyond diagnosis and treatment are huge points of discussion in medical circles.  How can the at-risk groups be more exposed to the information that might save their lives?

Gastroenterology Associates has compiled a whitepaper with information on how race impacts a colorectal cancer diagnosis.   For a disease that is so preventable, Louisiana paces behind most of the nation in timely and adequate screening.  Part of the reason for this poor statistic is due to lack of knowledge and access to screening for colorectal cancer.  Gastroenterology Associates knows that Louisiana can do better, and we can get closer to the goal set by the American Cancer Society to have 75% of the at-risk group of 50+ aged individuals current on their screening by 2015

Gastroenterology Associates would like for as many individuals to download our FREE whitepaper below and save the file, email it to friends and loved ones, or print it for those who may not use computers. This information needs to reach as many Louisianans for proper colorectal cancer screening as possible.  If you are ready to schedule your colorectal cancer screening, please contact us at 225.927.1190 or click here for an appointment.

 Race and colon 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

How has the incidence of colon cancer changed over time?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Wed, Nov 20, 2013 @ 7:15 AM

colon cancer incidence over timeColon, or colorectal cancer, is cancer of the large intestine or rectum. Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer for both men and women in the United States - the lifetime risk for developing the condition is around 5%. However, there is a lot of good news in the field as well. Colon cancer is highly preventable, and very treatable when caught early. The incidence of colon cancer has been steadily decreasing for decades, thanks to improvements in screening and prevention.

The Numbers

The American Cancer Society reports that the incidence rate of colon cancer started declining in the mid-1980s, and has continued to decline ever since. From 1998 to the present, the incidence rate has declined by about 3.0% per year for men, and 2.3% per year for women. All ethnic groups have experienced a decline in incidence rates, although not at equal rates.

Prior to 1989, white men developed colon cancer more frequently than African American men, while incidence rates for women of both races were similar. However, since 1989 the condition has been more common in African American men and women than in their white counterparts, although rates in both groups have decreased.

It's also worth noting that mortality rates from colon cancer have also decreased over the same period of time. Again, all groups have seen a drop in mortality, but African Americans currently experience a higher mortality rate.

Importance of Screening

Screening for colorectal cancer is the single biggest factor behind the decreased incidence and mortality rates. Routine screening using diagnostic tests like colonoscopies can detect polyps, which have a high potential to develop into cancer. In addition, screening helps to detect cancer early on, when treatment has a high chance of success.

Colonoscopies are recommended for:

  • Individuals over 50 
  • African Americans over 45
  • People with a family history of colon cancer 
  • Those with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
  • People with a personal history of polyps or colon cancer

Factors Influencing Screening

So, why has screening increased since the mid-1980s? Accessibility to and awareness of screening has increased over that same period of time. Colonoscopies are widely available and covered by insurance; there are also clinics that offer screenings for those with no insurance or poor insurance coverage. In addition, although they have a bit of a reputation for being uncomfortable to prepare for and undergo, most people do not experience pain during preparation or the colonoscopy itself.

Variance in terms of accessibility and awareness are also responsible for the shifts we see in the relative incidence rates in African Americans versus those of other ethnicities. Socioeconomic factors play a major role in health education and access to health care. Improving accessibility and awareness across all populations may help to continue the downward trend in the rate of new cases of colon cancer.

If you have one of the risk factors for colorectal cancer explored above, then it's important to get a colonoscopy as recommended. To schedule an appointment for your colonoscopy, please give us a call at (225) 927-1190 or simply click here.  

 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

Body Weight & Exercise: Impacts on Colon Cancer Diagnosis

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, Sep 24, 2013 @ 3:57 PM

exercise and colon cancer

Exercise and Colon Cancer

A growing body of research is supporting the idea that the risk of colorectal cancer has significant ties to body weight and exercise. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute released the results of a decades-long study of over 100,000 women and 45,000 men. The men and women responded to biannual questionnaires regarding their physical health, diet, and exercise. When the reporting ended in 2004, the researchers examined in more detail thousands of cases of colorectal cancer in study participants. The results backed up what other studies have suggested: BMI and exercise have a strong correlation to cancer risk.

In the study, each increase of 11 pounds was associated with a 34% increase in the risk of colorectal cancer. Additionally, participants who did about 3 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week reduced their risk of colorectal cancer by about 20-30%. Researchers believe that higher levels of insulin in heavier people and those who perform little exercise may be part of the reason for this correlation.

Diet

No matter how much you exercise, you also need to eat a healthy diet to maintain a healthy weight. To maintain your weight; you need to burn the same amount of calories (energy) you take in; to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat and drink.

In addition to basic math, what you eat may also play an impact in your colon cancer risk. For example, numerous studies have shown that antioxidants, found in brightly-colored fruits and vegetables like berries and greens, can reduce the risk of all cancers by boosting your body's ability to keep its cells healthy. For colon health, a diet rich in fiber found in whole grains and produce is beneficial.

Exercise

Although diet is an important aspect of controlling body weight, combining a healthy diet with regular exercise will produce the biggest reduction in colon cancer risk. Exercise is also usually easier to integrate into your life than weight loss. Exercising as little as 30 minutes a day, most days a week can make a difference. Any aerobic activity can reduce your risk, including:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Running
  • Cycling

More intense activities, like running and swimming, pack a bigger punch in a smaller amount of time. However, the right exercise for you is dependent on your prior physical health and what you prefer to do when you exercise. The best exercise is anything that works up a sweat that you're willing to do on a regular basis.

Regular screening in at-risk populations, such as those over 50 and those with a familial history of colon cancer, is the final link in prevention. To schedule an appointment for your screening, please click here or call (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