Dr. Abdul Jabbar on Saving Lives with Colon Screenings

According to Gastro Health Partner physician Dr. Abdul Jabbar, “When you look at a colon cancer map of the USA, you’ll be surprised to see that along the Ohio river, specifically over Clark and Floyd county, there are significantly higher incidences of colon cancer.” This is due in large part to the region’s lifestyle. A lack of exercise, high obesity rates, excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco use and a diet high in processed red meat and low in fibrous fruits and vegetables can lead to colorectal cancer. 

Having recently sat down with Baptist Health Floyd for one of their Health Topics episodes, Dr. Jabbar is quick to point out how colon screenings can save lives. “A colonoscopy is one of the best tools available,” he says. With timely colon screenings, the rate of colorectal cancer mortality in the area has decreased as much as 53%. 

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is done using a colonoscope which is a flexible tube with a camera attached to it. This allows physicians to look inside the organ without doing any surgery. A colonoscopy is minimally invasive with minimal sedation required, and can be completed within 10 to 30 minutes.

The procedure helps to identify polyps that either are cancerous or could potentially turn cancerous. These polyps are then removed and the patient’s care is expedited. To schedule a colonoscopy, contact the Gastro Health Partners location nearest you today.

Watch the full episode of Dr. Abdul Jabbar on Baptist Health Floyd’s Heath Topics here:

Dr. Abdul Jabbar joined Gastroenterology of Southern Indiana in 2006. He earned his medical degree from Nishtar Medical College in Pakistan. For one year he served as Research Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia before completing his Internal Medicine Internship and Residency at Columbia University teaching program in Summit, New Jersey. He received his dual Fellowship training in Gastroenterology & Hepatology at the University of Louisville, followed by additional training in hepatology and endoscopic ultrasound. Prior to moving to Southern Indiana, Dr. Jabbar served as Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Department of Gastroenterology at the University of Louisville. Dr. Jabbar is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

 

National Clinical Alert Issued on Early Age Onset Colorectal Cancer

Dr. Whitney Jones was recently featured in an Oncology Nursing News article about how to educate the public about early age onset colorectal cancer.

The article makes note of a national clinical alert co-authored by Dr. Jones urging healthcare providers to get creative about sharing the signs, symptoms and statistics associated with early age onset colorectal cancer.

The national clinical alert is not intended to be limited to just those in the field of gastroenterology. OB-GYNs, as well as those in surgical specialties, adult and pediatric primary care, family and internal medicine, emergency and urgent care departments, occupational medicine, community health centers, and departments of health and healthcare systems worldwide are encouraged to raise awareness about the growing disease.

According to the Colon Cancer Prevention Project founded by Dr. Jones himself, “10% of people diagnosed with colon cancer are under the age of 50 and that number is rising.” When it comes to early age onset colorectal cancer, one’s family history plays a significant role. While everyone is at risk for developing the disease, those with a family history of it are at an even greater risk.

Being knowledgeable about one’s family health history can help to determine the proper time to start screening. On time screening saves lives by detecting and removing polyps in the colon or rectum before they turn into cancer. A screening can also find colon cancer early on, when it is most treatable. The Colon Cancer Prevention Project states that, “when detected early, colon cancer is up to 90% curable.” As an additional preventive measure, healthcare providers are encouraged by the national clinical alert to start implementing early assessments during physical exams as well as cover the basics of digestive health with their patients. 

Talk to your doctor about the right time to get screened by contacting us today.

Read the full article here:

The Colon Cancer Prevention Project

While many know that colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in America, few are aware that it is also one of the most preventable. In an effort to educate the population about colon cancer prevention, our very own gastroenterologist Dr. Whitney Jones founded the Colon Cancer Prevention Project in 2003.

As a state-based advocacy organization, the Colon Cancer Prevention Project leads the nation in information on colon cancer prevention. Since its establishment, the Colon Cancer Prevention Project has helped to double Kentucky’s screening rates. It is also responsible for cutting the state’s colon cancer mortality rates by 28%.

“Although 50 has been tagged as the time to start your screening, it shouldn’t be the first time you hear about colon cancer,” says Dr. Jones. Knowing the facts can help people determine the right time to get screened. Simply having  a conversation with your family about their history of having polyps removed can save your life.

For example, for those of average risk, age 50 is acceptable. However, for those with a family history of polyp removal, screening as early as 10 years before their family member’s diagnosis could be critical in preventing cancer from developing.  

A “previvor” as the project calls it, is someone who was screened on time. As a result, they found precancerous polyps that were removed before they turned into colon cancer. Hear from real life “previvors” on why you should take ownership of your own health in the video below. Talk to your doctor about the right time to get screened by contacting us today. 

Watch & Save a Life:

Dr. Whitney Jones is a practicing Gastroenterologist, former therapeutic endoscopist and Clinical Professor at the University of Louisville from 1994 until 2017. He joined GHP in 2017 cofounding its new east Louisville division, Gastroenterology & Endoscopy Associates, PLLC, alongside Drs. Ashok Kapur and Laszlo Makk.

When It Comes To Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer, More Awareness Is Needed

Dr. Whitney Jones was recently featured in a Cure article about the lack of awareness among providers and patients of early-onset colorectal cancer.

Early-onset colorectal cancer affects those younger than 50 years of age. While many don’t think about getting screened for colon cancer until the age of 50, the rates of colorectal cancer in young and middle-aged adults have increased and are predicted to continue to increase. This is due to many factors, including unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, one’s family history and a lack of awareness.

While colorectal cancer is known as a silent and even painless killer, symptoms can include:

  • Blood present in the stool
  • Change in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, or consistency)
  • Loss of weight
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue

If you have a family history of cancer or polyps, it is urged that you speak to a health care professional about getting screened early. Lifestyle factors that can lead to colorectal cancer include obesity, tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, as well as a diet high in red processed meat and low in fresh fruits or vegetables.

According to Dr. Jones, those with a higher sense of awareness tend to be diagnosed at an earlier stage when the cancer is more treatable. Conversely, studies have shown that those with stage 3 and 4 colorectal cancers are among patients that experienced a prolonged diagnostic delay. Therefore, it is recommended that one seek medical help for symptoms right away. While one often delays speaking to a doctor due to embarrassment, this time period is even more prolonged when one factors in the time gap of seeing a primary care physician and then a specialist. “Unless you are aware, you can’t link that to an action, such as being screened, preventing early, behavioral changes,” Jones explained.

Read the full article here:

How Kentucky’s Lifestyle and Genetics Are Contributing To High Colon Cancer Rates

Dr. Whitney Jones was recently featured in a Bowling Green Daily News article about how Kentucky’s lifestyle and genetics are contributing to high colon cancer rates.

The article highlights some alarming statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kentucky has the highest rate of colorectal cancer in the nation, and it is the third leading cause of cancer death in women and men.

Lifestyle Causes of Colorectal Cancer Include

  • Lack of exercise
  • Diet high in processed red meat and low in fruits and vegetables
  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks Kentucky as the second highest state in the nation for tobacco use. What’s more, over two-thirds of adults in Kentucky are overweight, less than a tenth eat enough fruits and vegetables, and more than a third do not exercise regularly.

In addition to harmful lifestyle habits, a family history of colorectal cancer puts patients at a higher risk for developing the disease themselves.

Dr. Whitney Jones, a gastroenterologist with Gastroenterology Health Partners in Louisville is a national expert and frequent speaker on early-age onset colorectal cancer prevention, as well as genetic GI cancer syndrome testing, risk management and communication strategies for population-based cancer prevention.

Founder of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, an organization dedicated to colon cancer prevention, Dr. Jones is an advocate for utilizing genetic testing to improve patient outcomes and lower cancer-related societal outcomes. The article notes a bill recently passed by Kentucky legislators that requires health insurance to cover genetic tests for cancer when recommended by licensed medical professionals.

DNA testing can help expose those with genetic risks for colorectal cancer and determine the appropriate age for them to begin screening. In his work, Dr. Jones recognizes a correlation between low screening rates and high incidences of colon cancer and mortality rates. “Only one in 10 people get genetic testing before developing cancer. If you know you were going to have a car wreck next Thursday, what would you do?”

Read the full article here:

 

Dr. Whitney Jones Discusses Colorectal Cancer

Dr. Whitney Jones is a national expert and frequent speaker on early-age onset colorectal cancer prevention, genetic GI cancer syndrome testing and risk management, and communication strategies for population-based cancer prevention.

On this episode of KET’s Kentucky Health, Dr. Jones explains how we can decrease incidents and mortality rates of colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second cause of death due to cancer in the United States. Prior to 2004, Kentucky had one of the highest death rates from colon cancer. One major factor was a lack of screenings. However, now the mortality rate has decreased by more than 20% and we have gone from being 49th in the U.S. for people being screened for colon cancer to a current ranking of 20th.

This is due in large part to the development in 2003 of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project by Dr. Whitney Jones; an organization dedicated to spreading the message of colon cancer.

While the rates are decreasing for those over the age of 55, for reasons unknown, rates of colorectal cancer, specifically rectal cancer, have increased in those under the age of 55. Genetics and lifestyle habits could be prominent factors in this increase. Early screening is an important preventive tool as these rates are projected to continue to rise. 

Causes of Colorectal Cancer

  • Obesity
  • Tobacco use
  • Diets high in red processed meat and low in fresh fruits or veggies
  • Lack of exercise 
  • A family history
  • Excessive or ongoing alcohol use

Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Weight loss
  • Unexplained abdominal pain

However, the most common symptom of colon cancer is no symptom at all. It is known as the silent killer and early onset colon cancer has an average 6 month delay from the time a person has symptoms until they see a doctor. 

Screenings

Those with a family history should start screening a decade before their family history indicates, even as early as one’s twenties. 20% of those with a family history of colorectal cancer are at more of a risk themselves. 

If no warning signs or family history exist, screenings should being at the age of 45.

All colonoscopy screenings are covered in the state of Kentucky due to the Affordable Care Act. For those who don’t want a colonoscopy,  there are other options available. However, colonoscopies are still the gold standard of screenings as they remove polyps and the removal of polyps help prevent cancer from developing.

Knowing Your Family History

Genetic medical grade testing is an important proactive tool in diagnosing colorectal cancer. It is now more affordable and accessible than ever before.

Lynch syndrome for example is the most common genetic trait for colorectal cancer. Polyps in the colon develop into cancer faster for persons with Lynch syndrome than those with other genetic predispositions. Those who have it are also at an increased risk of ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, and pancreatic cancer, among several others. 

Other Preventative Measures

  • Increase the amount of veggies in your diet.
  • Aspirin has been known to reduce the formation of polyps, but has it’s side effects.
  • If you have had polyps in the past, keep up with your follow up surveillance.

Watch the full episode of Dr. Whitney Jones on Kentucky Health here: 


Dr. Whitney Jones is a practicing Gastroenterologist, former therapeutic endoscopist and Clinical Professor at the University of Louisville from 1994 until 2017. He joined GHP in 2017 cofounding its new east Louisville division, Gastroenterology & Endoscopy Associates, PLLC, alongside Drs. Ashok Kapur and Laszlo Makk.

Prevent Colorectal Cancer: Get Screened

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. It’s expected to kill more than 50,000 Americans this year alone. The good news? If caught early, the survival rate is very high.

Colorectal Cancer in the U.S.

That’s why screening for colorectal cancer is so important. Screening is generally recommended for all average-risk patients aged 50-75.

People who have a family member with colorectal cancer or polyps are at increased risk and might need to start screening before age 50.

High-risk factors include a personal history of polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic ulcerative colitis, or a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps.

What are the Options for Screening?

There are four main ways to screen for colorectal cancer:

Colonoscopy: Colonoscopy uses a flexible, lighted tool called a colonoscope to view the entire colon and remove cancerous and precancerous growths called polyps if they are detected.
Fecal immunochemical test (FIT): This test checks the stool for tiny amounts of blood given off by polyps or colorectal cancer.
CT colonography: This involves a CT scanner and computer programs to create a three-dimensional view of the inside of the colon and rectum that can be used to identify polyps or cancer.
Cologuard: This tests the stool for tiny amounts of blood and identifies altered DNA from cancer or polyps that end up in the stool.

Colonoscopy is The Best Colorectal Screening Method

Which Screening Option is Best?

Preventing cancer should always be the first goal. Most colorectal cancers begin as polyps. Finding, quantifying, localizing, and removing polyps through screening colonoscopy is the most effective strategy for preventing colorectal cancer. That’s why colonoscopy remains the gold standard for colon cancer screening.

The Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer recommends that physicians should offer colonoscopy first. For patients who decline to have a colonoscopy, the FIT test should be offered next, followed by second-tier tests such as Cologuard and CT colonography for patients who decline both first-line options.

A 2014 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine of 10,000 patients found that screening colonoscopy was better at finding cancer than both Cologuard and the FIT test. FIT and Cologuard were also not as good as colonoscopy at finding pre-cancerous polyps – and unlike colonoscopy, FIT and Cologuard can’t remove polyps.

Cologuard missed 1 in 13 people who had colorectal cancer detected by screening colonoscopy. Cologuard also missed more than 30 percent of polyps that will soon be cancer and almost 60 percent of polyps that may become cancer.

The FIT test missed almost 1 in 4 people who had colorectal cancer detected by screening colonoscopy. FIT also missed more than 50 percent of polyps that will soon be cancer and more than 75 percent of polyps that may become cancer.

Which Colorectal Screen Test is Most Effective

Check with Your Insurance Provider

Patients may also have insurance considerations when choosing a test. A follow-up colonoscopy is recommended for positive FIT and Cologuard tests. Individuals with a positive FIT test or Cologuard test who are covered by Medicare may face a costly co-insurance bill after the recommended follow-up colonoscopy.

While insurance covers 100 percent of the preventive screening test, a follow-up colonoscopy for a positive FIT or Cologuard is considered a diagnostic or therapeutic service and may not be fully covered.

Almost one in six people who use the Cologuard test will have a positive result that suggests the presence of colorectal cancer. For almost half of those patients (45 percent), the colonoscopy will show their result from the Cologuard test was a false positive.

Check with your insurance provider before you are screened. Ask how much you should expect to pay if you need a follow-up colonoscopy for a positive FIT or Cologuard test result. This can help you avoid surprise costs.

Insurance Coverage for Colorectal Screening

Talk with Your Doctor

There are several ways to be screened. Remember, Colonoscopy is the gold standard, but if you’re unable to be screened by colonoscopy there are other appropriate options. Talk with your primary care physician about which screening test is best for you and do research about the available options to ensure you’re choosing the best test according to science.

Early Detection and Straight Talk

Dr. David Dresner, MDDavid Dresner, MD, gastroenterologist with Gastroenterology Health Partners in New Albany, Indiana, speaks to his patients in clear and simple terms, no hyperbole, just direct.

“I’m very blunt with my patients,” he says. “Folks understand when you speak to them in plain, simple language. So, when I say ‘You’re trying to pass five pounds of mud through a one-pound hole,’ they understand what I’m saying.”

That’s how he describes a blockage in the colon to the patients he treats who have colon cancer. So, when Dresner says he’s genuinely excited about the progress being made in colon cancer survival rates, you can trust it’s not false enthusiasm or misplaced optimism.

“We are putting a distinct notch into colon cancer mortality,” he says. “Without any question, we are making a dent and people are living longer.”

Dresner comes by his love for finding solutions to problems naturally. His father was a nuclear physicist and his mother was a schoolteacher. Dresner grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and attended Washington University in St. Louis, earning a degree in biology. From there, he attended the University of Tennessee Medical School in Memphis via the U.S. Navy’s Health Professions Scholarship Program. Per the program regulations, he remained on inactive reserve while attending medical school, except for six weeks of active duty per year. After completing medical school, he had a four-year obligation of service to the Navy.

Dresner completed his internship, residency, and fellowship at Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Virginia. He then served as a medical officer on a ship for about 14 months in 1984–85, including participating in the bombing of Benghazi in March of 1985.

“We were off the coast of Lebanon when the journalist Terry Anderson was kidnapped,” Dresner says. “We spent about three months floating around off the coast of Beirut as a platform waiting for negotiations to get him successfully released. They finally flew him onto our ship and from our ship on to the carrier.”

Having completed 10 years of active duty, Dresner was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1994. With a wife and three children under the age of six, it was time to come home. A recruiter connected him with Gastroenterology of Southern Indiana, and he joined in 1994.

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