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Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: Everything You Should Know

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is an endoscopic examination that helps doctors view the lower colon and rectum.  Here’s a closer look at the procedure. 

Why is a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy performed?

Flexible sigmoidoscopies can help doctors determine the cause of symptoms like rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel habits. Additionally, doctors can use the procedure as a screening tool. They may recommend that people over the age of 50 have these exams on a regular basis to check for signs of colon cancer. While a colonoscopy is often used to do this, the flexible sigmoidoscopy offers a few advantages. For one, it is less involved in terms of preparation and exam time. It also does not typically require an anaesthetic, and it has a lower risk of perforation.

Preparing for a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

To prepare for the procedure, you should always talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking. Additionally, they will give you instructions for bowel prepping before the exam. A bowel prep helps ensure there is as little stool as possible is present in the intestine during the exam. Doctors usually prescribe a clear liquid diet the day before the exam, and avoiding consuming anything after midnight the day of the exam. The bowel prep may also involve laxatives or enemas. You may need to consume a certain volume of liquid laxative leading up to the procedure. If your doctor prescribes an enema, you should use it the night before the procedure to wash out the rectum. 

During the procedure

During a flexible sigmoidoscopy, the patient is positioned on their left side with their knees drawn up towards their chest. The doctor first does a digital rectal exam, inserting a lubricated, gloved finger into the patient’s rectum to check for anything abnormal. Next, they insert the sigmoidoscope into the rectum. This may feel like pressure to the patient. The doctor then adds air through the sigmoidoscope to expand the colon, allowing them to see more clearly. The sigmoidoscope has a camera on the end of it that gives video feed to a monitor that the doctor views. Lastly, the doctor examines the lining of the bowel while slowly removing the scope. If necessary, they can insert forceps through an empty channel in the sigmoidoscope to take a tissue sample for biopsy. The entire procedure usually takes around 15 minutes.

Post-procedure

Following the procedure, patients can expect some mild abdominal discomfort, cramping and bloating for a few hours. Since the procedure is fairly non-invasive, you can return to your normal and activity level immediately. If a biopsy was performed, you may experience some light rectal bleeding from the site of the tissue sample. If the bleeding is persistent, or if you develop a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, contact your doctor. 

Your doctor will give you post-exam instruction on home care. They will also discuss the results with you. A negative test is when no abnormalities are found during the procedure. If your doctor finds any polyps or other issues during the exam, it is a positive test. This may lead to further testing, including a full colonoscopy. If a biopsy has been performed, the results are usually available after a few days and are communicated to you by your doctor. 

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience performing flexible sigmoidoscopies. We can help establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.

 

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer refers to a cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. While cancers that start in either place may be called colon cancer or rectal cancer, respectively, they are often known collectively as colorectal cancer because of similarities between the cancers. 

Here’s what you need to know about colorectal cancer. 

Causes and Risk Factors

Scientists are not exactly sure what causes colorectal cancer. We do know that colorectal cancer begins when healthy cells’ DNA mutates. These cells can then overgrow and divide, creating tumors. Cancerous cells can also destroy healthy tissue and travel to other parts of the body and form deposits. However, there are several well-documented risk factors. These include being over 45, having diabetes, smoking, drinking alcohol, having a high-fat diet, having an inflammatory bowel disease, and having a family history of colon cancer or polyps. 

Types

Most colorectal cancers (around 96%) are Adenocarcinomas. This kind of cancer starts in mucus-producing cells which lubricate the colon and rectum. 

There are a few other kinds of colorectal cancers that are much more rare. Lymphomas, cancers of immune system cells, can start in the colon or rectum (although they typically start in lymph nodes). Carcinoid tumors start from hormone-producing cells in the intestine. Gastrointestinal stromal tumors start from cells in the colon wall, and while most are non-cancerous, some can be. 

Symptoms

It’s common for colorectal cancers to have few symptoms until they have advanced. There are some potential warning signs, but they may be indicators of other issues. These symptoms include lower abdominal pain, blood in stool, bloating, cramps, vomiting, unexplained weight loss, and changes in bowel functions. As always, it’s best to consult a medical professional to determine what your symptoms are caused by. 

Diagnosis

The best way to cure colon cancer is to identify it at an early stage. However, since symptoms may not present early on, doctors recommend screenings for healthy people, usually beginning around age 50. People with more risk factors, as discussed above, may be advised to be screened at a younger age. 

A colonoscopy is one of the most common methods of screening. This involves using a scope to examine the inside of the colon. Your doctor can pass tools through the scope to take tissue samples if they see something suspicious. Biopsies of these tissue samples can help determine if cancer is present. Doctors also may remove polyps found during a colonoscopy to prevent them from becoming malignant. 

Treatment and Prevention

There are three main treatments for colorectal cancer- surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. These three treatment options are often used together in various combinations, depending on a patient’s situation. The best treatment options for each person depends on factors including overall health, the cancer’s stage, and whether the cancer is recurring. 

Localised, small, early-stage cancer in a polyp can be removed during a colonoscopy. A more invasive surgical procedure called a partial colectomy can remove the cancerous area of the colon and some surrounding healthy areas. This can prevent the cancer from growing back. Lymph nodes near the surgical site are removed and tested. Surgery can also be pursued to relieve symptoms and provide comfort for people in very poor conditions. 

Chemotherapy is another treatment option, often used after surgery to destroy remaining cancer cells. If the cancer has spread beyond the colon lining, this may be recommended. 

Radiation therapy utilizes beams of intense energy to destroy cancer cells. Radiation may be utilized before surgery to reduce tumor sizes, or after surgery to kill off remaining cancer cells. 

Preventing colorectal cancer is extremely important, and it starts with screening (as discussed above). Additionally, you can reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer by avoiding smoking, reducing or avoiding alcohol consumption, staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a healthy diet. 

Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience helping people manage and treat colorectal cancer. We can help establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.

 

 

What is Infusion Therapy?

When people become severely sick or weighed down by compound disease conditions, oftentimes they have difficulty swallowing. This can make seemingly simple things like eating, drinking and taking medications difficult.

Additionally, certain medications may not be recommended orally since an individual’s stomach acids may affect their quality, rendering them ineffective when it comes to treating diseases.

There are many reasons why people may receive medication through their body instead of their mouth (orally).

What is Infusion Therapy?

Infusion therapy is an alternative to oral treatment that entails the administration of drugs or medicine through a sterile catheter or needle. These are often introduced into a patient’s vein and secured by a professional healthcare provider. This treatment option has been used for a long time by hospitals.

Increasingly, infusion therapy is also applied in outpatient healthcare settings and community care centers, by specialized nurses who are professionally trained to carry out this procedure. At Gastroenterology Health Partners, our outpatient infusion center is available to patients in a convenient and higher quality setting, with no wait time and ample appointment availability. Depending on one’s insurance carrier and plan, this procedure can often be done at a lower cost, with the benefit of getting to know the same infusion RN over time.

What Medical Conditions Does Infusion Therapy Treat?

Infusion therapy is primarily used to treat severe or chronic diseases and infections that may not respond to oral antibiotics. There are many examples of disease conditions and infections that are treated continuously using infusion therapy. This includes different types of cancers, gastrointestinal tract infections, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

An Overview of What to Expect with Outpatient Infusion Treatment

There are a couple of factors that you need to expect with outpatient infusion treatment or therapy.

The infusion process typically lasts for an hour, but this does vary. The time taken during this therapy is based on the type of medication administered and also the kind of illness or infection being treated. While some medicines require more extended periods of infusion, others take a short time.

Dosage also dictates the length of infusion. In some cases, patients receive their infusion dosage slowly, especially for their first time. Whereas for others, it may take a longer length of time. This may be done to confirm that a patient doesn’t develop adverse reactions to the medication offered via infusion.

Prior to the administration of infusion therapy, there is also some preparation. This might involve recording a patient’s blood pressure, weight, height, and body temperature.

Prior to infusion therapy your doctor might ask you to prepare by drinking a specific amount of water. You may also be advised to wear comfortable clothing for the procedure.

As an infusion patient, you have a choice in deciding a location for your infusion therapy. Cost and convenience are critical to this decision.  GHP offers the convenience of this service to its patients at a cost which is far lower than an inpatient setting. Contact any of our office locations to reach a dedicated infusion therapy concierge to confirm options available to you based on your specific health plan.

October’s MD Update: Dr. Jones Speaks “Going on Offense Against Cancer”

Our very own Dr. Whitney Jones graced the cover of MD-Update’s October issue.  Read about how he embraces preventative measures to beat colon cancer before it starts in the following article.

“We spend a lot of money on healthcare and health insurance. The problem is, we’re not spending enough on prevention.”— Whitney Jones, MD

 In the movie “Karate Kid,” there’s a scene where Mr. Miyagi asks the title character if he’s training to fight. In his light bulb moment, the student responds that he trains, “So I won’t have to fight.”

Make no mistake, Whitney Jones, MD, knows how to treat cancer. He’s trained for it and has years of experience in it. But it’s a fight he would prefer doesn’t take place.

“We’re going on offense against cancer,” says Jones, a gastroenterologist at Gastroenterology Health Partners (GHP) in Louisville. “We are working on becoming the number one state and the first in the nation to develop programs where we can use genetic testing. We spend a lot of money on healthcare and health insurance. The problem is, we’re not spending enough on prevention. The cost of cancer treatments totally overwhelms the cost of prevention.”

That has been the central message and purpose of the Kentucky Colon Cancer Prevention Project, which Jones helped found in 2004. The project’s work includes education, advocacy, survivor support, and health system change.

“It put the work of the state in front of the legislature,” Jones says, noting that a diverse group of leaders from across the state formed the project’s advisory committee. “It added a mix of healthcare, politics, and business that was catalytic.”

The project has received state funding as well as additional funding from the Kentucky Cancer Foundation, which Jones also helped found in 2012. “We have helped pay for a lot of uninsured people to get colorectal cancer screening,” Jones says.

The impact of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project is reflected in the state’s improvement versus the rest of the country. Jones notes that Kentucky ranked 49th out of 50 in the nation in colon cancer prevention statistics when the project was launched. The state also had the highest rates of incidence and mortality in the nation. Earlier this year, Kentucky ranked 17th best in the nation in the same colon cancer related categories and earned an American Cancer Society Achievement Award for the most improved state in the nation for colorectal screening over the past 15 years.

“When we started our work at the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, there was a huge gap between what could be done and what we were doing,” Jones says. “It’s been a broad coalition, including many of our state leaders and city officials. I think it’s proven that Kentucky can address its own problems, we can develop solutions, we can implement them locally, and we can save lives and save money.”

Read the full article here:

Common Causes of Constipation

Constipation is often defined by tough, hard to pass bowel movements that occur infrequently. Other signs and symptoms include bloating, having the sensation of an incomplete evacuation, abdominal pain and blood present in the stool.

While constipation is known for being both physically uncomfortable and embarrassing, the condition is more common than one might think. Constipation affects approximately 30 percent of the general population, and is most prevalent in women, children and the elderly. Persistent constipation should not be ignored as it could be the sign of a more serious condition, such as colon cancer or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

What are some of the Common Causes of Constipation ?

Dehydration

“If you don’t have enough water in your body already, the large intestine soaks up water from your food waste,” making for harder to pass stools. Caffeine can cause dehydration, and even dairy has been known to constipate some people. Proper hydration however, can help move food through the intestines and create softer stools.

Lack of Fiber

Fiber encourages regular bowel movements by allowing more water to remain in your stool and hastening it’s passage through the gut. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts are the best natural source of fiber. However, fiber supplements can be helpful as well.

Stress

Just like most of your bodily functions, the nervous system is in constant communication with your digestive system. During periods of intense stress, the digestive system can slow down resulting in constipation. Waiting too long to go to the bathroom for example, can cause a build up.

Not Enough Physical Activity 

Regular activity helps to stimulate the muscles in intestines and can also help alleviate stress.

Medication

Though laxatives can help ease constipation, they can also become habit forming meaning that one’s bowel movements end up depending on them. Overusing laxatives can over time can weaken the bowel muscles. Additionally, many anti-depressants and pain medications are common causes of constipation. It is recommended that any and all medications should be discussed with your doctor.

While many lifestyle changes can help to relieve constipation, if you experience chronic constipation, schedule an appointment with one of our fellowship-trained gastroenterologist today.

 

2019 Kicking Butt 5K Event Saves Lives

Kicking Butt 5k at the waterfront Dr. Whitney Jones at the 2019 Kicking Butt 5K

Thank you to everyone who came out and participated in this year’s Kicking Butt 5K! Survivors, fighters, advocates, healthcare providers and community partners all came together on what turned out to be a beautiful Saturday to help raise awareness of colon cancer. Gastroenterology Health Partners was proud to be one of the many sponsors who made this event possible. The Waterfront Park and Big Four Bridge were gracious hosts!

2019 Kicking Butt 5K booths Gastro Health Partners at the 2019 Kicking Butt 5k

The Kicking Butt 5k is an annual race put on courtesy of the Colon Cancer Prevention Project. Our very own physician Dr. Whitney Jones founded the Colon Cancer Prevention Project in 2004.  All of the funds raised as a result of the event go towards supporting their mission of eliminating preventable colon cancer death and suffering. The Project’s resources span from education and advocacy, to health systems improvement and survivor support. While colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, many don’t understand how preventable it is. A donation of $50 can help reach over 100 people who may need to be screened for colon cancer.

5K at the big four bridge 5k at the Louisville Waterfront Park

While the 5k is over, donations can still be made online. For more information on when you or a loved one should start the screening process, schedule an appointment with us online. We have a clinical team of 21 fellowship-trained Gastroenterologists and 13 advanced practice clinicians. All of which conveniently serve the Louisville, Lexington, Kentucky and Southern Indiana communities.

 

2019 Kicking Butt 5K

Join us Saturday, August 24th at at the beautiful Big Four Bridge on Waterfront Park in Louisville, Kentucky for the 2019 Kicking Butt 5k!

This annual family friendly event is put on by the Colon Cancer Prevention Project whose mission it is to eliminate preventable colon cancer death and suffering. Participants are encouraged to spend the morning walking, strolling, running, and rolling to a world without colon cancer! Whether you’re a survivor, fighter, advocate, healthcare provider or community partner, all are welcome!

You can donate to the cause or register for the event online. The race starts at 8:30am with day of registration beginning at 7:30am.

Kicking Butt 5k

About the Colon Cancer Prevention Project

Our very own Dr. Whitney Jones founded the Colon Cancer Prevention Project in 2004. Since then, colon cancer is down more than 25% in the state of Kentucky. The project works to bring awareness to what is a highly preventable disease as well as offer support to those fighting it.

While colon cancer is the 2nd leading cause of all cancer deaths in the United States, when it is detected early, colon cancer is up to 90% curable. According to the Colon Cancer Prevention Project, “It is estimated that 6 out of 10 (60%) deaths from colon cancer could be prevented if everyone were screened at 50.” However, even young people are at risk for developing the disease. 1 in every 10 patients diagnosed are under the age of 50.

How to Take Action

Prevent colon cancer by talking to your doctor about the right time to get screened. It is recommended that men and women of average risk should start screenings by age 50. However, those with a family history or symptoms may need to be screened sooner. Don’t be afraid to ask your family if they’ve been screened as doing so could save their life.

The Gastroenterology Health Partners proudly sponsors the 2019 Kicking Butt 5k. Get screened and schedule an appointment by contacting us today!

National Clinical Alert Part 3: Preventing Young Adult Colorectal Cancer

Health care providers can aid in young adult colorectal cancer prevention by taking steps to educate the public on the rising rate of colorectal cancer found in people under the age of 55. For example, patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer prior to the age of 55 are 58% more likely than older patients to be diagnosed with a more advanced stage of the disease. This is in large part due to a general lack of awareness of young onset colorectal cancer.

The following are important actions steps health care providers can take in preventing young adult colorectal cancer:

1. Be Informative About Basic Digestive Health

Educating patients on the basics of digestive health should be part of regular office visits, especially yearly exams. Patients should understand what and where the colon is and know to take symptoms seriously should they experience them. For example, rectal bleeding and blood in the stool is never normal. Such symptoms require further assessment by a doctor to determine the root cause.

2. Relaying the Risk Factors

Patients should also be made aware of the risk factors associated with having a family history of colorectal cancer and or advanced colorectal polyps. Assessing one’s family history is critical in determining one’s risk for developing colorectal cancer themselves. Those at an increased risk may be eligible for more frequent colorectal screenings at an earlier age than others.

3. The Importance of Early Assessments

Patients at any age that are presenting symptoms or signs of colorectal cancer should be referred for diagnostic evaluation immediately and be given an early assessment with their physical exam. If found and treated early, colorectal cancer has a 90% survival rate.

To schedule an appointment or refer a patient, contact the Gastro Health Partners location nearest you today.

 

Young Adult Colorectal Cancer National Clinical Alert Part 2: The Importance of Family History

Assessing one’s family history of colorectal cancer and polyps (especially advanced polyps) is critical in determining whether or not one is at an increased risk for developing colorectal cancer themselves. Those at an increased risk may be eligible for more frequent colorectal screenings at an earlier age than others.

 

Patients with these family history indicators need to be referred for diagnostic evaluation. To schedule an appointment, contact the Gastro Health Partners location nearest you today.

Dr. Emori Carrara On Solving Gastroenterology Enigmas

Dr. Emori Carrara was recently featured in an MD-Update Magazine article where she is credited with treating her patients with both compassion and insight.

Dr. Carrara has been practicing gastroenterology and hepatology at Gastroenterology of Southern Indiana since 2010. As the Kentuckiana area is “one of the nation’s hot spots for obesity related epidemics such as colon cancer and non alcoholic liver disease,” Carrara treats a wide variety of patients and offers endoscopic diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

Common patient complaints include:

  • Acid Reflux
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Constipation and Diarrhea
  • Celiac Disease
  • Crohn’s/Ulcerative Colitis
  • Hepatitis C
  • Alcoholic Liver Disease
  • Fatty Liver Disease
  • Pancreatic Disease

Dr. Emori Carrara Specializes in Treating Susceptible Female Patients

As most women prefer a female doctor when it comes to these rather sensitive topics, Carrara’s patient base is mostly female. According to MD-Update, “Functional gastrointestinal diseases or conditions in which doctors can’t pinpoint a root cause, even after a thorough evaluation, are more common among women.” For example, a woman’s hormone levels have been known to complicate GI symptoms, and can even cause bowel movement issues. Carrara specifically treats the needs of pregnant women and has seen problems like gallstones and liver issues arise during pregnancy.

GI & The Psyche

When it comes to GI disorders, Carrara believes in taking note of one’s behavioral patterns and considering lifestyle changes before treatment. “Anxiety can contribute to nearly every gastrointestinal symptom and heighten each one,” says Carrara. IBS for example often stems from anxiety or depression. This is why Carrara recommends “stress reduction through exercise or engaging in hobbies as well as a healthy, balanced diet” in addition to medication.

Colon Cancer

In addition to participating in clinical trials and supporting the latest in preventive care, Carrara sees preventing colon cancer as one of the most important things she does as a gastroenterologist. “Colon cancer can be prevented with a colonsocopy as we are able to remove polyps before they can develop into colon cancer,” says Carrara.

To talk to your doctor about screening, contact us today.

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