COLORECTAL CANCER SCREENING AND PREVENTION

March 26, 2019

COLORECTAL CANCER SCREENING AND PREVENTION

Shawano Hospital and Clinic Provide Screening Services

SHAWANO, Wis – Colorectal cancer – cancer of the colon or rectum – is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

Testing and treatment options are available at ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano, as well as ThedaCare Physicians-Shawano. A colonoscopy is an exam used to detect changes or abnormalities in the colon and rectum. During the procedure, a tiny video camera allows doctors to view the inside of the colon. If necessary, polyps or other types of abnormal tissue can be removed during a colonoscopy.

A number of colorectal cancer screening options are available. They include products such as at home fecal immunochemical tests (FITs). While these tests are not as invasive as colonoscopies, they are not believed to be as effective at possibly detecting colon cancer. Patients should talk with their healthcare provider to determine which test is best for them.

ThedaCare Physicians’ General Surgeon Dr. Anna Gilbertson, along with Family Medicine providers Dr. Benjamin Schlais and Dr. Michael Williams, regularly perform diagnostic and screening colonoscopies. Lynn Zeinert, endoscopy scheduling coordinator, along with members of the hospital’s surgical staff completes the colonoscopy screening team.

“Regular screenings are key to early detection,” said Dr. Schlais. “When colon cancer is caught early, it is likely to be more treatable. Anyone aged 50 to 75 should be screened a minimum of once every 10 years. If they have a family history of colon cancer, the patient should be talking with their provider to determine when they should have their first screening.”

Dr. Williams also reminds patients that they shouldn’t wait until they have symptoms before scheduling a colonoscopy.

“The number one symptom of colon cancer is no symptom,” Dr. Williams said.

If a patient does experience symptoms, they most frequently include:

            • A change in bowel habits

            • Persistent abdominal discomfort

            • Rectal bleeding

            • Weakness and fatigue, along with nausea or vomiting

            • Unexplained weight loss

Zeinert is a resource for those who will be having a colonoscopy at ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano. She’s available to patients for questions before and after the procedure.

“We always do our best to help answer patient questions, working with the provider and surgical team to get the information,” Zeinert said. “We want to be available for the patient throughout the entire process.”

Zeinert calls herself a “colonoscopy cheerleader”.

“With one in 22 men and one in 24 women diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime, I’m a believer in regular testing,” she said.

The Procedure

Zeinert explained that colonoscopy screening involves a preparation protocol the day before the procedure.

“That involves drinking about 64 ounces of a clear drink, mixed with a prescribed laxative. The patient drinks that mixture beginning at noon the day before the procedure,” she explained. “The patient will be spending a lot of time in the bathroom that afternoon, so I recommend they clear their schedule of any appointments, put on some comfortable clothes and have a good book or movie.”

She stressed a thorough prep is essential to the colonoscopy procedure. She recommends that patients eat a low-fiber diet for a few days before the procedure, avoiding fruits, vegetables and nuts with skins or peels. 

“We want the colon completely cleansed of any residue so that the doctors can get a good look at the lining of the colon,” she said.

When the patient goes in for the colonoscopy, they can expect the process to take about two to three hours.

“Once they’re in the procedure room, the actual colonoscopy will take about 20 to 30 minutes. After the procedure, their provider will discuss the results,” she said.  

Zeinert said because of the sedation, patients should arrange for a ride home.  She recommends the patient rest and relax the remainder of that day.

The CDC estimates some 140,000 people in the U.S. will receive a colorectal cancer diagnosis in 2019.

“That’s a significant number, but since the 1980s, survival rates for colorectal cancer have been increasing because of greater awareness of the disease and improved screening,” said Dr. Williams. “Currently the five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer when found in the early stages is 90 percent. That’s why we stress regular screening for everyone and early screening for those with a family history of colorectal cancer.”

This article is part II of a III part series. You can find part I here.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization serves a community of more than 600,000 residents and employs more than 6,700 healthcare professionals throughout the regions. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 31 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.