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March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Why should this matter to you?    Because awareness saves lives.

Colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death from cancer in the United States, after breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. The risk of the average person between the ages of 50 to 80 developing colon cancer is about 6%, or almost 1 in 20.

Increases Risk Factors:

 Family history of colorectal cancer

 certain other cancers (ovarian, uterine, breast and other GI cancers)

 inflammatory bowel disease (Ulcerative and Crohn’s Colitis)

 Obesity

 smoking

Colorectal cancer begins when cancer cells form in the lining of the colon or rectum. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often grouped together because they have many features in common. The colon and rectum make up the large intestine (or large bowel), which is part of the digestive system, also called the gastrointestinal (GI) system.

Food enters the stomach by way of the esophagus, passes through twenty feet of small bowel, where most absorption of nutrients occur, and the remainder traverses the large bowel where excess water is absorbed, ultimately becoming stool which exits the rectum. Colon cancer can occur anywhere in the large bowel or rectum and usually begin as a small growth called a polyp. At first, a polyp is small and harmless, and causes no symptoms. Over time, polyps get bigger. This can lead to bleeding, or blockage of the colon. By the time these symptoms occur, the polyp most likely has developed into a cancer that continues to grow and spread to other organs (metastasize.) 

There are preventative measures we all can take to prevent, detect, and treat many major health issues, including colorectal cancer.

Beginning age 45, regular screening of the colon or rectum is a simple preventative step. These tests can be used to find polyps or colorectal cancer.  If your test result is positive or abnormal on some screening tests (stool tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and CT colonography), a colonoscopy test is needed to complete the screening process. Colonoscopy is the gold standard in polyp and colon cancer detection, and the only detection mode that allows removal of the polyp at the time of the test.

Some types of polyps can change into cancer over time, but not all polyps become cancer. The chance of a polyp turning into cancer depends on the type of polyp it is. There are several types of polyps.

∙ Adenomatous polyps (adenomas): These polyps sometimes change into cancer; therefore, they are called a pre-cancerous condition. The three types of adenomas are tubular, villous, and tubulovillous.

∙ Hyperplastic polyps and inflammatory polyps: These polyps are more common, but in general they are not pre-cancerous. Large ones may call for colorectal cancer screening with colonoscopy more often.

Sessile serrated polyps (SSP) and traditional serrated adenomas (TSA): These polyps are often treated like adenomas because they have a higher risk of colorectal cancer.

Step One is calling Monmouth Gastroenterology Associates to set up a consultation. The team of six specially trained doctors in the field of gastroenterology, and two nurse practitioners, along with the staff, offer patients the highest care possible. Speak to your doctor about the pros and cons of each different test, your medical history, family history and your preferences to conclude which type of screening is most effective for you.

At Monmouth Gastroenterology, you are well cared for with our very well trained, experienced staff. You can be at ease, knowing you are getting some of the highest-level care for gastrointestinal, liver disease and colorectal cancer prevention, detection, and screening in the Monmouth & Ocean County area.

 

 

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Colonoscopy

Whenever you hear people talking about Colonoscopy; whether it is to schedule, to go, waiting for results… the word is always surrounded by dread.

Personally, I never quite understood that.  You go to see your Gastro Doctor, who is a totally nice and personable healthcare professional with a very understanding staff.  You discuss your overall health care and set up the date.  So far so good.

The night before you do the prep. The purpose for the prep is that the colon and rectum need to be cleared of any stool residue before the colonoscopy is performed. For you newcomers on the colonoscopy scene, the prep is so much easier and less distasteful than it used to be. In the “old days”, you used to have to chug down what seemed like an entire tanker truck of liquid that didn’t go down easily. The liquid is less volume and a bit more palatable than it used to be.

You arrive on your scheduled day and time, either at the hospital or an outpatient facility.  You get all comfy in your hospital gown and bed, watch a little TV while you wait your turn, and wait for the intravenous sedative to start to wooze you. That is generally the last thing you remember.

You wake up in your comfy bed in a recovery room, a little dopey from the remnants of the sedative.  You may feel a little bloated or gassy, that is normal.  You may need to do things that you would want to say “excuse me” for. You relax there for about an hour until you feel a bit more refreshed and ready to rejoin your normal day.  It is best to take it easy and not make any extraordinary plans for the balance of the day.

While you were asleep, the staff was busy.  Your doctor inserted a long, flexible, lighted tube called a colonoscope, or scope, into the anus and slowly guides it through the rectum and into the colon. The scope inflates the large intestine with air to give the doctor a better view. A small camera which is mounted on the scope transmits a video image from inside the large intestine to a computer screen, allowing the doctor to carefully examine the intestinal lining. If you are still awake, the doctor may ask you to move periodically so the scope can be adjusted for better viewing. Once the scope has reached the opening to the small intestine, it is slowly withdrawn, and the lining of the large intestine is carefully examined again.

During the procedure, your doctor can remove growths, called polyps, and later test them in a laboratory for signs of cancer. Polyps are common in adults and are usually harmless. Understand that most colorectal cancer begins as a polyp, so removing polyps early is an effective way to prevent cancer. The doctor can also take samples if there are abnormal-looking tissues during colonoscopy. The procedure, called a biopsy, allows the doctor to later look at the tissue with a microscope for signs of disease.

Really not a bad procedure, and you slept through most of it. It is really important for you to do as often as your doctor feels is necessary based on your medical issues and family history. This one routine test can spare you a world of pain if you have issues that are not caught early.

At Monmouth Gastroenterology, you are in good hands with our very well-trained, experienced staff of 6 specially trained Doctors and 2 Nurse Practitioners. You can be at ease, knowing you are getting some of the highest-level care for gastrointestinal, liver disease, and colorectal cancer prevention, detection, and screening in the Monmouth & Ocean County area.