Wellness Wednesday: Colorectal Cancer Screenings Save Lives

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. No one wants to talk about it; but colorectal cancer screening saves lives. If you’re 50 years old or older, talk to your doctor about getting screened.

AA couple bicyclesColorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, among cancers that affect both men and women, in the U.S. Every year, about 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 people die from it. But this disease is highly preventable, by getting screened beginning at age 50.


About 1 in 3 adults between 50 and 75 years old–about 23 million people–are not getting tested as recommended.


What You Can Do

  • If you’re aged 50 to 75, get screened for colorectal cancer. Screenings help prevent colorectal cancer by finding precancerous polyps so they can be removed. Screening also finds this cancer early, when treatment can be most effective.
  • Be physically active.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol.
  • Don’t smoke.

Fast Factsccs_ads_300x250_final2

  • Risk increases with age. More than 90% of colorectal cancers occur in people aged 50 and older.
  • Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. You could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important. If you have symptoms, they may include—
    • Blood in or on the stool.
    • Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away.
    • Losing weight and you don’t know why.
    • These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. If you have any of them, see your doctor.
  • Some people are at a higher risk than others for developing colorectal cancer. If you think you may be at high risk, talk to your doctor about when and how often to get tested.

Screenings Tests

There are several screening test options. Talk with your doctor about which is right for you.

  • Colonoscopy (every 10 years).
  • High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT), stool test or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) (every year).
  • Sigmoidoscopy (every 5 years, with FOBT every three years).

eightyby2018

Mercy Health System has joined with more than 1,000 organizations who have pledged to work together to increase the nation’s colorectal cancer screening rates and embrace the goal of reaching 80% screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.

80% by 2018 was developed through the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCR) initiative with the goal of screening 80% of those aged 50 and older for colorectal cancer by the year 2018. The NCCR was co-founded by the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


If we can achieve 80% by 2018, 277,000 fewer people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 203,000 lives will be saved by 2030.


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Across the country, approximately 1 in 3 adults, around 23 million people aged 50 and 75 years old are not getting screened for colorectal cancer as recommended. Within the Mercy Health System service area alone, 33% of adults have not received colorectal screenings in the past 10 years.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


More Information

NCCR: 80% by 2018

Colorectal Cancer Screening Fact Sheet

Colorectal Cancer Screening Saves Lives

Vital Signs: Colorectal Cancer Tests Save Lives

Wellness Wednesday: PVD, PAD, VTE, DVT and PE Can Spell Trouble

And ABC, 123, Do-Re-Mi, right? That’s a lot of shorthand … but this isn’t just silly text speak. Each of these acronyms represents a very serious cardiovascular-related condition that requires medical attention and treatment.

veinsPVD = Peripheral Vascular Disease
PAD = Peripheral Artery Disease
VTE = Venous Thromboembolism
DVT = Deep Vein Thrombosis
PE = Pulmonary Embolism

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is a circulation disorder that causes blood vessels outside of the heart and brain to narrow or block. This can happen in either the arteries or veins and is most common in the legs but can also be present in the arms, stomach or kidneys.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is specifically, a narrowing of the arteries to the legs, stomach, arms and head—again, most common in the legs. Like coronary artery disease, the most common cause of PVD is atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque inside the artery wall. Plaque reduces the amount of blood flow to the limbs and decreases the oxygen and nutrients available to the tissue. Clots may form on the artery walls, further decreasing the inner size of the vessel and potentially blocking off major arteries.

The most common symptoms of PAD involving the lower extremities are cramping, pain or tiredness in the leg or hip muscles while walking or climbing stairs. Typically, this pain goes away with rest and returns when you walk again. Left untreated, PAD can lead to gangrene and amputation. And if the blockage occurs in a carotid artery, it can cause a stroke.

Risk Factors for PAD

Luckily, PAD is easily diagnosed by non-invasive methods … but you have to get checked out! Many people dismiss leg pain as a normal sign of aging. You may think it’s arthritis or just “stiffness” from getting older. If you’re having any kind of recurring pain, talk to your healthcare professional and describe the pain as accurately as you can. If you have risk factors for PAD, you should ask your doctor about PAD even if you aren’t having symptoms.

Venous Thromboembolism, Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism(2).
Click to view larger

A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blood clot in your lungs. The clot often forms in the deep veins of the lower legs or thighs. This condition is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If the blood clot breaks loose and travels through the bloodstream, it’s called a venous thromboembolism (VTE) and may represent a life-threatening condition. A PE is usually a VTE that travels from the leg to the lungs. PE is a very serious condition which can cause death.

People who have just had surgery, those who are sedentary and/or obese are at a higher risk of developing a DVT. Don’t delay treatment if you have any symptoms or risk factors for DVT.

Talk to your doctor if you have any of the above symptoms or risk factors. There are non-invasive treatments available to help dissolve clots before they break off and become life-threatening.

To find a Mercy Health cardiovascular physician, visit our Find-a-Doctor tool on our website at www.mercyhealth.org/find-a-physician.

Sources: American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health, Mayo Clinic


More Information:

An Important Reason to Take Your Socks Off [PDF]

What is PAD? [PDF]

Prevention and Treatment of PAD

What is VTE? [PDF]

Who is at Risk for VTE? [PDF]

Risk in the Veins

Know Thrombosis [Infographic]

Black History Month: African American Firsts

In celebration of Black History Month, below is an updated list from last year of just some of the important African American firsts in American history. Listed in chronological order, you’ll see that several of these “firsts” actually occurred in just the last 25 years.

The First African-American …

1773
Woman (known) to publish a book: Phillis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral

1783
Doctor in the U.S. (unlicensed): Dr. James Durnham purchased his freedom after apprenticing with several doctors and opened his own practice until new laws prohibited him from practicing medicine unlicensed.

thomas jenning1821
Patent holder: Thomas L. Jennings, a ‘dry scouring’ process that was a precursor to modern-day dry cleaning.

1823
College graduate: Alexander Lucius Twilight (Bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College, Vermont)

1837
Medical doctor: James McCune Smith, MD (Graduated from the University of Glasgow in Scotland after being denied admission to American schools.)

1847
Medical doctor to earn a degree from a U.S. medical school: David Jones Peck, Rush Medical College, Chicago, Ill.

1863
Commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy: Robert Smalls

1864
Woman to earn a medical degree: Rebecca Lee Davis Crumpler, MDNew England Female Medical College, Boston, Mass.

1870
U.S. Senator (appointed): Hiram Rhodes Revels (Revels filled the seat left vacant by Jefferson Davis when Mississippi seceded from the Union.)

Mary_Eliza_Mahoney
Mary Eliza Mahoney

1878
Graduate of a formal nursing school: Mary Eliza Mahoney, New England Hospital for Women and Children, Boston, Mass.

1893
Surgeon to perform open heart surgery (of any race): Daniel Hale Williams, MD, Provident Hospital, Chicago, Ill.

1897
Psychiatrist: Solomon Carter Fuller, MD, Boston University School of Medicine

1904
Person to run for the presidency: George Edwin Taylor

1921
Licensed pilot: Bessie Coleman

1940
Oscar winner: Hattie McDaniel, supporting actress for Gone with the Wind

1947
Major league baseball player (20th Century): Jackie Robinson

1953
NFL quarterback: Willie Thrower

1956
Secret Service Agent: Charles LeRoy Gittens

1963-sidney-poitie_oscar
Sidney Poitier

1963
Best Actor Oscar: Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field

1966
U.S Senator (elected): Edward Brooke

1967
Astronaut: Robert H. Lawrence, Jr.

1975
MLB manager: Frank Robinson, Cleveland Indians

1992
Woman U.S. Senator: Carol Mosely Braun

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Condoleezza Rice

2001
U.S. Secretary of State: Colin Powell
Best Actress Oscar: Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball

2005
Woman Secretary of State: Condoleezza Rice

2009
President: Barack H. Obama, elected Nov. 2008

Wellness Wednesday: Getting back to your life with cardiac rehab

Cardiac rehabilitation can’t change your past, but it can help you improve your heart’s future.

istock_000062785180_mediumCardiac rehab is a medically supervised program for people who have had a heart attack, heart failure, heart surgery, or other coronary intervention.

A cardiac rehab program involves adopting heart-healthy lifestyle changes to address risk factors for cardiovascular disease. It is a team effort—partnering you with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, family members and friends—to take charge of the choices, lifestyle and habits that affect your heart.

To help you adopt lifestyle changes, a cardiac rehab program will include exercise training, education on heart-healthy living, and counseling to reduce stress and help you return to an active life. It can improve your health and quality of life, reduce the need for medicines to treat heart or chest pain, decrease the chance you will go back to a hospital or emergency room for a heart problem, prevent future heart problems, and even help you live longer.

The American Heart Association explains cardiac rehab as three equally important parts:

  • Exercise counseling and training: Exercise gets your heart pumping and your entire cardiovascular system working. You’ll learn how to get your body moving in ways that promote heart health.
  • Education for heart-healthy living: Managing your risk factors, choosing good nutrition, quitting smoking…education about heart-healthy living is a key element of cardiac rehab.
  • Counseling to reduce stress: Stress hurts your heart. This part of rehab helps you identify and tackle everyday sources of stress.

Active Senior Woman Exercising on TreadmillCardiac rehab is provided in an outpatient clinic or in a hospital rehab center. The cardiac rehab team includes doctors, nurses, exercise specialists, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians or nutritionists, and mental health specialists. Sometimes a case manager will help track your care.

Your cardiac rehab team will design a program to meet your needs. Before starting your program, the rehab team will take your medical history, do a physical exam, and perform tests. Possible tests include an electrocardiogram (EKG), cardiac imaging tests, and a treadmill or stationary bike exercise test. You also may have tests to measure your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. During cardiac rehab, you will learn to exercise safely and increase your physical activity. The length of time that you spend in cardiac rehab depends on your condition.

For more information about the cardiac rehabilitation program at Mercy Health System, visit our website at www.mercyhealth.org/heart/rehab.

Sources: American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health


Before you go … Check out Mercy Health System’s 2017 Go Red Dance Video to support American Heart Month!


More Information:

What is Cardiac Rehab? [PDF]

How Can I Live with Heart Failure? [PDF]

Cardiac Rehabilitation (Medline Plus)

Medicine Chart [PDF]

Wellness Wednesday: Heart Disease Does Not Discriminate

Just before Christmas, people across the world learned that beloved Star Wars actress and best-selling author Carrie Fisher suffered a cardiac emergency while on a flight home to LA. Within a few days, we were all mourning her death.

istock_000019034549_largeDuring this time, media outlets all over the world were reporting on her condition. Some news stories reported she suffered a heart attack; others reported she suffered a cardiac arrest. And many simply used both of those terms interchangeably.

But is there a difference?

Definitely.

A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction (MI), occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart becomes partially or completely blocked. This happens because the coronary arteries can become narrowed from a build up of fat, cholesterol and other substances, called plaque. When the plaque breaks, a blood clot forms around the plaque and can block the blood flow.

Recovery from a heart attack depends on the length of time the heart muscle is without blood flow, which heart vessel is blocked, and whether or not treatment is immediately started. Emergency care is required for a heart attack. So if you have symptoms, get to an emergency room immediately. And don’t drive! When at all possible, call 911 for an ambulance. Paramedics will have equipment to help treat you on the way to the hospital and can get you there quicker.


Every 34 seconds, someone dies from heart and blood vessel diseases, America’s No. 1 killer. 


A cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and stops beating or ‘arrests’. Death occurs in minutes after the heart stops because oxygen-enriched blood is no longer flowing through the body. In some instances, immediately performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use of an automatic external defibrillator (AED) can help provide oxygen to the body and get the heart started again.

cardiacarrest-heartattack.jpg

In the instance of Ms. Fisher, witnesses on the airplane have said that she stopped breathing for 10-15 minutes. Passengers, trained in CPR, tried to revive her and when the plane landed, paramedics continued to provide advanced life support on the way to the hospital.

However, the amount of time she was without oxygen proved to be irreversible. A death certificate issued by the LA County Department of Health confirmed that her cause of death was cardiac arrest. What may have contributed to her heart stopping is still being determined.

Carrie Fisher’s death, as well as the death of her mother just a few days later from a stroke, highlights the importance of raising awareness of heart disease in women. While we don’t know if Fisher had any symptoms prior to boarding a plane that day, what we can take from this is that it can happen to anyone. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women and it sometimes has no symptoms, which is why it is called the silent killer.

grfw_aha_liw_v_macy_krSo, during this American Heart Month, we would like to encourage women (and men) to take care of their hearts. Get regular checkups. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to stay healthy. If you are in a higher risk group, or if you have a family history of heart disease, ask you doctor what you can do to lower that risk.

To find a cardiologist at Mercy Health System, visit our website and use our Find a Doctor tool at www.mercyhealth.org/find-a-doctor.

Sources: American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Mercy Health System Articles:

Heart disease: What every woman needs to know

Heart attacks in women. Yes, they happen

Don’t ignore heart attack symptoms

Q&A: Chest pain. When is it an emergency?


More Information:

Cardiac Arrest vs. Heart Attack

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

Cardiac Arrest Warning Signs

Heart Attack Tools and Resources

 

Wellness Wednesday: Screening for Cervical Cancer

As we said last week, more than 12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide. But since it is usually slow developing, it is one of the most preventable types of cancer.

prevent-cervical-cancerJust this week, we learned that Erin Andrews, Fox sportscaster and co-host of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, had surgery for cervical cancer last fall. Her cancer was discovered during a routine exam, after which she had two surgical procedures and was given the all clear by her physician.

This highlights the importance of routine screenings for all women. With the proper screening and routine examinations, this type of cancer can be found in its early stages, and women can make a complete recovery.

Cervical cancer usually develops slowly over time. Before cancer appears in the cervix, the cells of the cervix go through changes known as dysplasia, in which abnormal cells begin to appear in the cervical tissue. Over time, the abnormal cells may become cancer cells and start to grow and spread more deeply into the cervix and to surrounding areas.

What is Cervical Cancer Screening?

Early cervical cancer may not cause signs or symptoms. Women should have regular check-ups, including tests to check for human papillomavirus (HPV) or abnormal cells in the cervix.

  • A Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for pre-cancers or cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
  • The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes.

A Pap test is recommended for all women between the ages of 21 and 65 years old, and can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic. During the Pap test, the doctor will collect a few cells and mucus from the cervix and the area around it. The cells are then placed on a slide or in a bottle of liquid and sent to a laboratory. If you get the HPV test along with the Pap test, the cells collected during the Pap test will be tested for HPV at the laboratory.

Screening Recommendations

jo2012041201The American Cancer Society recommends that all women begin cervical cancer testing screening at age 21. Women aged 21 to 29, should have a Pap test every 3 years. HPV testing should not be used for screening in this age group.

The Pap test, which screens for cervical cancer, is one of the most reliable and effective cancer screening tests available. However, it only screens for cervical cancer, and cannot detect uterine, ovarian or other reproductive cancers.

Women age 30-65 should be screened with a Pap test combined with an HPV test every 5 years or tested every 3 years with just the Pap test. Women who are at high risk for cervical cancer should be screened more often. You should speak to your doctor to determine your risk.

Women over 65 years of age who have had regular screenings in the previous 10 years should stop cervical cancer screening as long as they haven’t had any serious pre-cancers found in the last 20 years.

Low Cost Screenings

The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) provides breast and cervical cancer early detection testing to low-income, underserved, under-insured, and uninsured women in the U.S.

If you are looking for a Mercy Health System gynecologist, please visit our website and use our Find a Doctor tool.

Sources: National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


More Information:

National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP)

American Cancer Society Screening Guidelines

Testing for Cervical Cancer [PDF]

Wellness Wednesday: Finding Cervical Cancer Early

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. No one wants to talk about cervical cancer; but we should. Because it is highly preventable and when found early, it is also one of the most treatable cancer types.

Multiracial group of mature woman at fitness centerMore than 12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and more than 4,000 of women die. Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide. But because it develops over time, it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer.

Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can spread to other areas of the body. Cervical cancer starts in the cells lining the cervix—the lower part of the uterus. These cells do not suddenly change into cancer. Instead, the normal cells of the cervix first gradually develop pre-cancerous changes that turn into cancer.

Although cervical cancers start from cells with pre-cancerous changes, only some will develop into cancer. It usually takes several years for cervical pre-cancer to change to cervical cancer, but it also can happen in less than a year. Cervical pre-cancers are diagnosed far more often than invasive cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. But over the last 40 years, the cervical cancer death rate has gone down by more than 50 percent. The main reason for this change was the increased use of the Pap test. This screening procedure can find changes in the cervix before cancer develops. It can also find cervical cancer early—when it is in its most curable stage.

The American Cancer Society′s estimates for cervical cancer in the U.S. for 2017 are:

  • About 12,820 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed.
  • About 4,210 women will die from cervical cancer.

Risk Factors

Friends having funThere are many risk factors which may increase the odds of developing cervical cancer. Some of these include:

Screening Recommendations

The American Cancer Society recommends that women follow these guidelines to help find cervical cancer early. Following these guidelines can also find pre-cancers, which can be treated to keep cervical cancer from forming.

  • Women aged 21 to 29, should have a Pap test every 3 years. HPV testing should not be used for screening in this age group (it may be used as a part of follow-up for an abnormal Pap test).
  • Beginning at age 30, the preferred way to screen is with a Pap test combined with an HPV test every 5 years. This should continue until age 65.
  • Another reasonable option for women 30 to 65 is to get tested every 3 years with just the Pap test.

Sources: NCCC, American Cancer Society


More Information

MHS Health Library: Cervical Cancer

NCCC Cervical Cancer

CDC Cervical Cancer

American Cancer Society Cervical Cancer Guide