What is the Colon?
The colon, or large intestine, is the long tube-like organ of your digestive tract that takes waste from your small intestine, where calories and nutrients are absorbed, to your rectum, where waste is eliminated. As the waste from your food passes through your colon, fluids and salts are removed. If a portion of the colon becomes damaged or diseased, colorectal surgery can be performed to remove part of the colon.
Most colorectal surgeries involve a colon resection. A colon resection is when a surgeon removes the diseased portion of the large intestine, and then reconnects the two ends from the healthy portions of the colon. Essentially, a colon resection removes the bad part of the intestinal tubing and then pulls the remaining ends together so that the digestive system still functions properly. The joint that is created by attaching the two healthy portions of intestine to each other is called an end-to-end anastomosis.
Colorectal surgeries can often be done laparoscopically, which minimizes the risk of complications and reduces recovery time for patients. Colorectal surgery is performed to treat a variety of illnesses, including bowel obstruction, colon cancer
The Ins and Outs of Colon Cancer
Colon cancer strikes roughly 140,000 Americans annually, making it the second most common cancer in the United States. Over 90% of people who get colon cancer are over 40 years of age. After the age of 40, the risk of developing colon cancer doubles every 10 years. Although age is one high risk factor of developing the disease, there are others. Individuals with a family history of colon cancer or polyps, history of ulcerative colitis or cancers of other organs are more likely to develop colon cancer.
Most colon cancers begin with polyps, which are benign. These polyps are considered pre-malignant growths, which can later increase in size and become colon cancer. Although hemorrhoids may produce symptoms similar to cancer or colon polyps, hemorrhoids do not lead to colon cancer.
The most usual symptoms of colon cancer include changes in bowel habits and rectal bleeding. Although symptomatic of other diseases, diarrhea and constipation may be present with colorectal cancer. When weight loss and abdominal pain become symptoms of colon cancer, the cancer is often extensive. Oftentimes, however, polyps and early colon cancers do not produce symptoms.
Since colon cancer or polyps may not produce any symptoms, it’s important to have colorectal cancer screening once you hit the age of 40 or sooner if your physician recommends it. While a colonoscopy is the standard for colon cancer pre-screening, your doctor may recommend a digital rectal exam, a chemical test to check for blood in the stool or a sigmoidoscopy.
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of colon cancer is through proper preventive screening. If benign polyps are discovered during your outpatient colonoscopy procedure, then the physician will remove them. There’s also some evidence that may suggest that a diet that is comprised of high fiber and low fat may help to prevent colon cancer.
Surgery is performed in most cases of colorectal cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation are sometimes recommended in addition to surgery. If colorectal cancer is detected and treated in its early stages, then approximately 80% to 90% of patients return to normal health. On the other hand, the cure rate reduces to 50% or lower, if colorectal cancer is diagnosed in its later stages. A very small percentage of patients — less than 5% — require a colostomy, which is a surgical construction of an artificial opening leading from the colon.
Hemorrhoids: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
You may have heard about hemorrhoids, but may not know exactly what they are — technically speaking. Hemorrhoids are inflamed and swollen veins located in lower rectum and anus.
Straining while having a bowel movement or the increased pressure during pregnancy are typical causes of this common condition. Chronic hemorrhoids may develop around the anus externally, or they may be located inside the rectum. Chronic constipation and diarrhea are other culprits of hemorrhoids, as is obesity.
Hemorrhoids may cause a number of symptoms including pain, itching and swelling. You may have bleeding, which you will notice on your toilet paper after wiping. In some cases, you may have a lump near the anus, while in other cases you may experience leaking of waste.
Treatment and Drugs
When hemorrhoids are mild, home remedies such as over-the-counter wipes, creams and suppositories, containing hydrocortisone or witch hazel, help to relieve discomfort and itching temporarily; however these products should not be used over a week. Some people find relief in sitz baths, soaking for 10-15 minutes a couple of times per day.
If your symptoms persist or if you have severe hemorrhoids, then you may be advised to have minimally invasive procedures or surgery. Rubber band ligation, sclerotherapy injection or coagulation
What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a condition of the digestive tract that is characterized by chronic inflammation that is both painful and debilitating. It is important to diagnose and treat IBD as early as possible as the condition can sometimes lead to severe and life-threatening complications. The two most common types of inflammatory bowel disease include Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
This type of inflammatory bowel disease causes severe and long-lasting inflammation to develop in part of your digestive tract. Ulcerative Colitis generally only affects the inner lining of the colon and rectum, or the large intestine. Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis often develop very gradually.
This type of inflammatory bowel disease develops anywhere within the tissue lining the digestive tract and often spreads much deeper in the tissue than Ulcerative Colitis does. Crohn’s disease often spreads into different areas of the digestive tract, and causes abdominal pain, diarrhea and can even lead to malnutrition.
Symptoms of IBD
Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease vary from patient to patient depending upon the type and severity of the disease. Symptoms of IBD often include:
• Abdominal cramps
• Severe abdominal pain
• Bloody stool
• Urgent bowel movements
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• Anemia (caused by blood loss through stool)
If left untreated, inflammatory bowel disease could cause severe health complications both internally and externally. Inflammatory bowel disease could cause bleeding from ulcers, a ruptured bowel, perianal disease, fistula, strictures, obstruction and even lead to the development of colon cancer.
One of the biggest aspects of treatment for inflammatory bowel disease is following a healthy diet. Both fiber and dairy often play a large role in the onset of symptoms. Dr. Bass can help you develop a diet that will be most beneficial for your inflammatory bowel disease. For many patients, inflammatory bowel disease cannot be treated through diet and home remedies alone. Depending on the severity of your condition, Dr. Bass may recommend surgical treatment to help you find relief from your symptoms of IBD. Dr. Bass will discuss the benefits of a colonoscopy procedure or colorectal surgery in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
If you would like more information regarding inflammatory bowel disease, please contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bass.
What are Peptic Ulcers?
A peptic ulcer, sometimes called a gastric ulcer, is located in the gastrointestinal tract and is the cause of discomfort and pain for many individuals. Peptic ulcers develop as a result of an abnormality in the inner layer of the stomach, a part of the digestive tract known as the duodenum.
There are a variety of factors that increase your risk of developing peptic ulcers. Individuals that consume high levels of alcohol and regularly smoke cigarettes are at a heightened risk for developing ulcers, as are those with a history of frequent heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In addition, patients that have undergone radiation therapy for medical treatment or have used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin are more likely to develop peptic ulcers.
Symptoms of Peptic Ulcers
Symptoms and indicators of a peptic ulcer often vary greatly from person to person, but are likely to include:
• Abdominal pain
• Blood in stool
• Difficulty drinking fluids
• Constantly feeling full
• Difficulty swallowing
• Weight fluctuation
• Soreness in the chest area
Treatment Options for Peptic Ulcers
If the peptic ulcer bleeds too much, your physician may harness metal fasteners to the ulcer and use an injectable medication in an effort to stop the bleeding. In situations where medical intervention and treatments do not work to stop the bleeding, then surgery may be required.
If you are experiencing the symptoms and indications of a peptic ulcer, then your physician will likely conduct an endoscopy exam to evaluate your gastrointestinal tract more closely. During the endoscopy exam your physician will direct a long flexible tube that is equipped with a small camera and light at one end through your digestive tract to view your stomach and small intestine.
Other exams that your physician may conduct include:
• A doctor may order an upper GI endoscopy exam together with a sequence of x-rays taken after drinking barium.
• A blood test and stool occult blood test to check for the presence of the H. pylori bacteria, which could cause peptic ulcers and can be treated with antibiotics.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of a peptic ulcer then it is crucial that you contact Dr. Bass immediately. Peptic ulcers require medical treatment and will not heal on their own over time. The only way to avoid complications from your peptic ulcer is to seek medical attention.
If you would like more information about peptic ulcers, please contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bass.