By Carol Wolfenbarger, MSN, RN, FACHE
Most people know that a pink ribbon express breast cancer awareness, but do you know what the blue ribbon stands for? Colorectal cancer awareness, and since March is officially designated Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a time when we spread the word about how to lower your risk for the disease, including preventive screening options.
Accord to the Centers for Disease Control( CDC ), colorectal cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and women in the United Regime, so it’s important for people to understand this disease and work with their specialists to prevent it. We’re fortunate to have Dr. Ashley Badger and Dr. Robert Roddenberry, general surgeons with Mission Hospital McDowell( MHM ), along with Dr. J. Paul Fletcher, internal medicine with Mission Community Medicine in Nebo, to help us learn the important realities around colorectal cancer.
Dr. Fletcher points out a worrisome trend: The prevalence of younger people being diagnosed with colorectal cancer has risen. “Colorectal cancer has been increasing in incidence, particularly in younger people less than 50, since the 1990 s, ” he territory, adding that the “why” remains a mystery. “The exact reason for this increase is unknown, although there’s some suspicion that it has to do with our generally harmful American diets. In areas of the world where people eat differently, including less processed foods, this upward trend hasn’t been look, ” illustrates Dr. Fletcher.
Disease risk factors are frequently broken up into two categories — those things you can change and those you cannot. “For instance, ” shares Dr. Fletcher, “you are unable to change your genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer if you have a strong family history, or “if youre having” other cancers, such as inflammatory bowel disease, that increase the health risks for colorectal cancer. You too cannot change the increased risk of get the disease as you age.” He goes on to share that somebodies are at higher hazard for colorectal cancer than wives, and lily-white and black beings are diagnosed with colorectal cancer more often than other racial groups.
Dr. Fletcher notes however, that there are quite a few important risk factors that individuals do have ascendancy over that impact their risk, including their weight — obesity is a major risk factor — an unhealthy food, paucity of physical exercise, tobacco use and significant alcohol consumption. “These modifiable determining factor are within people’s power to alter, ” he says. “For example, diet varies we advise are increasing your fiber intake, steering clear of processed foods, lowering the amount of solid downed, and munching abundance of fruits and vegetables.”
Multiple forms of screening for colon cancer exist, including colonoscopy, a brief procedure performed at the hospital while a patient is under sedation. During it, the surgeon inserts a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end of it into the rectum to examine the lower bowel for precancerous and cancerous growings known as polyps. Mission Hospital McDowell’s two talented surgeons, Dr. Roddenberry and Dr. Badger, are versed in performing colonoscopies, and their vicinity right here at MHM means that patients don’t have to travel far for this vital screening. “We are careful and thorough when we perform a colonoscopy, and as we assess the patient’s colon, we’re able to immediately and effectively remove polyps should we find them, ” says Dr. Roddenberry. “The preparation step that most people dread, which involves drinking the solution that clears your colon, is not as difficult to tolerate as in the past, ” he adds, “but it is worth it, because the clearer our view of the colon is, the better able we are to see — and remove — any polyps.”
Dr. Badger resonates Dr. Roddenberry when speaking about the importance of testing and catching colorectal cancer early. “The’ gold standard’ evaluation is a colonoscopy. With this screening, we can even find polyps and being withdrawn before “theyre starting” growing cancerous cells, and it’s even more important to get one earlier if you have someone in your family who has had colon cancer, ” she says, adding that it’s a topic that should never be overlooked in an appointment with one’s primary care provider.
Noninvasive stool-based testing procedures include fecal immunochemical testing( FIT) and Cologuard( r ). The FIT test looks for hidden( occult) blood in the stool, while Cologuard also identifies occult blood plus DNA converts that point to polyps and the presence of cancer. “Stool-based testing is good, but I generally recommend them to people who are either unwilling to get a colonoscopy or who have health conditions that limit their ability to have the procedure accomplished, ” clarifies Dr. Fletcher. “In my opinion, most beings should get a colonoscopy because it is both a screening evaluation and a medicine. That to tell you, if the physician performing the colonoscopy finds anything suspicious, they can remove it then and there.”
Dr. Fletcher also clarifies the sometimes confusing issue of when a person should receive their first colonoscopy and how often they should be screened. “At minimum, colonoscopies are started at age 50, and then done every 10 years. Frequency is a complex topic, ” he shows, “because the individual risk factors a patient has, along with whether they have ever had polyps removed in a previous colonoscopy, can dictate whether a patient should receive the screening as frequently as yearly, or every 3, five or ten years old, which are more common recommendations.” Colonoscopy and colorectal cancer gamble are routine topics Dr. Fletcher discusses with his patients during the course of its annual physicals. “Colonoscopy is one of a group of cancer-related screenings I talk with my patients who are eligible about, as part of their overall wellness hope, ” he says.
If someone is diagnosed with colorectal cancer in its very early stages, states Dr. Fletcher, medication is often exclusively surgical. “If the patient’s cancer is more advanced, doctors often use a combination of surgical removal, chemotherapy and potentially radiation. That said, the importance of catching a cancer early cannot be overstated, and is often the difference between life and death. This is why screening experiments are so very critical, because they catch cancer in its earliest stages, ” he admonishes. Sadly, colorectal cancer is one where identifiable indications don’t seem until the condition is quite advanced. “Unfortunately, ” says Dr. Fletcher, “treatment is much more difficult at this part, and often fatal.”
Asked about the word he feels is most important for people to understand about colorectal cancer, Dr. Fletcher revisits the sobering statistics. “This disease is very common, and particularly deadly, so it’s critical to make testing seriously, ” he says. “As the third most common cancer in the United District that both men and women are diagnosed with, colorectal cancer is the second passing cause of death in people out of all cancers they are stricken with, and the third deadliest cancer in women.”
I appreciate our team’s advice and expertise on colorectal cancer this month. Remember that the COVID-1 9 pandemic is no reason to put off a colonoscopy. Those at higher peril for severe complications from COVID-1 9 should have a risk-versus-benefit speech with their primary care provider. For most, the protocols we’ve put in place to keep patients and staff safe at all of our equipment rest assured that the best attend can continue to be delivered to our community.
It’s clear that everything of our dedicated clinicians is in compliance: Know your risk for colorectal cancer, discuss coming screened with your primary care provider, and don’t put off that colonoscopy. Call 828-659-5700 for more information.
Carol Wolfenbarger, MSN, RN, FACHE, is Chief operating officer of Mission Hospital McDowell.
Mission Hospital McDowell , a member of Mission Health, an operating fraction of HCA Healthcare, is a community hospital dish McDowell County. Located in Marion, North Carolina, Mission Hospital McDowell operates 30 bunks including 5 labor and delivery suites. Medical specialties offered include family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, orthopedics, urology, obstetrics and gynecology, and walk-in , non-emergency care at Mission My Care Now McDowell. Five of Mission Hospital McDowell’s primary care patterns have been recognized by the Centers for Medicare& Medicaid Assistance as Rural Health Clinics.
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