Our Gastroenterology Blog
Posts for category: Gastroenterologist
Colon cancer affects thousands of Americans. According to the American Cancer Society's statistics, more than 95,000 people were diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016. The best way to avoid colon cancer is by visiting your Bala Cynwyd, Langhorne, and Philadelphia, PA, doctor.
A colonoscopy is when your doctor examines the lining of your intestines. They check for abnormalities, like polyps, using a thin flexible tube that's inserted into the anus. The instrument allows your doctor to see what's in the lining on a monitor.
Importance of a Colonoscopy
A routine visit to your doctor for a colonoscopy is how most people detect cancer during its earliest stages. Board-certified physicians want their patients to schedule an appointment for a colonoscopy, or a flexible sigmoidoscopy, as soon as possible.
The CDC recommends adults aged 50 to 75 visit their gastroenterologist on a regular basis. Colorectal cancer usually begins as a small polyp in the colon. At first, the polyps aren't cancerous but may develop cancer over time. If you take the proper precautions of screening and keeping an eye out for symptoms, cancer can be treated or prevented.
Colon Cancer Symptoms:
Symptoms aren't always obvious. Here are the symptoms you need to keep an eye out for according to the doctors in Bala Cynwyd, Langhorne, and Philadelphia:
- Bowel Habit Changes: If you are suffering from Colon constipation, or diarrhea, for more than four weeks, that may be a sign of cancer.
- Incomplete Evacuation: If there are constant bowel movements, even if you've just had a bowel movement, then you need to contact your doctor.
- Blood in Your Stool: Hemorrhoids are usually accompanied by blood in stool, but may also be a sign of a more serious condition like cancer.
If you would like more information on colonoscopies and screening procedures, you can contact the doctors at Gastrointestinal Specialists. If you are in Bala Cynwyd, Langhorne, and Philadelphia, PA, call to schedule an appointment today!
The science of health and wellness continues to advance in terms of treatments and cures, but one of the most reliable ways to detect and manage cancer in the earliest stages remains regular screenings, or medical tests that can detect the presence of cancer. At Gastrointestinal Specialists in Bala Cynwyd, PA, our team of doctors recommends all of our patients eventually undergo a colon cancer screening. If you’re not sure when you might need to schedule one, you’ve come to the right place!
What is a colon cancer screening?
When people hear that they need a colon cancer screening, they often assume they'll be scheduling a colonoscopy. While a colonoscopy, in which the intestines are viewed through a small lighted tube, is a very common test, the doctors at G.I. Specialists in Bala Cynwyd offer other tests available that can also detect the presence of colon cancer and precancerous conditions.
When do I need a colon cancer screening?
Most people should have a colonoscopy or other type of colon cancer screening by the time they have reached age 50. These screenings are typically performed once every five to ten years. However, your Bala Cynwyd gastroenterologist may recommend earlier screenings if you have a history of colon cancer or if someone in your immediate family has been diagnosed with it. People within the subset typically need to have screenings more often than those who do not carry this risk factor. People who have chronic G.I. issues such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease may also need earlier or more frequent screenings. Discussing your full medical history at your initial appointment will help determine the schedule that works best for you and your unique health issues.
Gastrointestinal Specialists have office locations in Bala Cynwyd, Langhorne, and Philadelphia, PA, so contact the location closest to you for convenient and caring attention to any gastrointestinal issue you may have.
Whether you've been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or suspect that you may have the disease, you probably have a few questions. The gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists in Torresdale, Bucks County and Bala Cynwyd, PA, discuss several things you should know about IBD.
What is IBD?
As the name implies, IBD causes inflammation in your digestive tract. When the sensitive tissues of your gastrointestinal system become inflamed, diarrhea, cramping, pain and other symptoms can occur. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are the most common types of IBD. Nationally, approximately 1.6 million people are affected by IBD, according to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation.
What are the symptoms of IBD?
In addition to diarrhea, pain and cramping, common symptoms include:
- Lack of appetite and weight loss
- Bloody stools or stool covered in pus
- Urgent need to defecate
- Delayed growth in children
- Anal fistulas
What is the difference between Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis?
If you have Crohn's disease, inflammation can occur anywhere in your gastrointestinal tract, while ulcerative colitis affects only the large intestine and rectum. Although the inflammation caused by Crohn's disease can penetrate multiple layers of tissue, ulcerative colitis only affects the digestive tract lining. In addition to inflammation, ulcerative colitis also causes open sores, or ulcers, in the large intestine and rectum.
How is IBD treated?
Both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic conditions. Although they can't be cured, their symptoms can be managed. When you visit our Torresdale, Bucks County or Bala Cynwyd offices, one or more of these treatments may be recommended:
- Anti-diarrheal medication
- Vitamin B-12 shots to prevent anemia
- Calcium and vitamin D supplementation to reduce your osteoporosis risk
- Antibiotics to treat infections and help fistulas heal
- Prescription anti-inflammatories that reduce the inflammation in your digestive tract
- Prescription immune system suppressors that prevent your body from releasing the chemicals that cause inflammation
- Surgery to remove the damaged sections of your digestive tract
The symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease can be managed or reduced by following the recommendations of your gastroenterologist. Are you concerned about your symptoms? Call Gastrointestinal Specialists to schedule an appointment. Call (215) 632-3500 for the Torresdale office, (215) 702-7090 for the Bucks County office and (610) 664-9700 for the Bala Cynwyd office.
Wondering if you really need that colonoscopy your doctor recommended? Your Torresdale, Bucks and Bala Cynwyd, PA gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists explain why colon cancer screening is so important and discuss colon cancer screening tests.
Colon cancer symptoms are not always obvious
In the early stages of colon cancer, you may have no symptoms. Common colon cancer symptoms, such as blood in the stool, a change in bowel habits, bloating, abdominal pain or weight loss, may only occur when the cancer spreads. Colon cancer screenings can detect cancer or pre-cancerous polyps long before they cause any symptoms.
Types of screening tests in Torresdale, Bucks and Bala Cynwyd
Colonoscopy is the most well-known type of colon cancer screening test. After you use laxatives to clear your bowels, your gastroenterologist inserts a flexible scope into your anus and passes it through your large intestine to the beginning of your small intestine. The lighted scope contains a tiny camera that transmits images to a digital screen. If your doctor notices any polyps during the screening, he removes them immediately. Although many polyps are benign, some are cancerous or pre-cancerous. Since your risk of colon cancer increases with age, initial colonoscopies are recommended at age 50.
Colonoscopies are the most used type of colon cancer screening tests because polyps and other problems can be detected and treated during the procedure. In some cases, your doctor may recommend other screening tests instead of or in addition to a colonoscopy, including:
- Virtual Colonoscopy: Virtual colonoscopy offers an alternative to traditional colonoscopy. If your results are abnormal, you may still need a traditional colonoscopy. The test is performed by examining computerized tomography (CT) images taken after air is pumped air into your colon and rectum.
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: The flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure is similar to a colonoscopy, but only your rectum and the lower part of your colon are examined. Polyps can also be removed during this test.
- Barium Enema: This X-ray test involves injecting barium into your rectum to produce a clear image of the colon. If abnormalities or polyps are spotted, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy.
- Stool Tests: Home test kits provided by your doctor can detect small amounts of blood in your stool. Your sample is sent to a medical laboratory for examination.
A colon cancer screening offers an easy way to safeguard your health. Call your Torresdale, Bucks and Bala Cynwyd, PA gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists to schedule an appointment to discuss the right screening option for you.
Find out more about this gastrointestinal procedure and why it’s recommended.
Are you dealing with strange GI symptoms that you just can’t pinpoint the root cause of? Are you noticing problems like diarrhea, upset stomach, gas or bloating? If so, then it might be time to talk to one of our Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd, PA gastroenterologists about what might be causing your symptoms and whether an upper endoscopy could shed some light.
What is an upper endoscopy?
This procedure uses a flexible, thin tube with a small camera at the end to view and examine the stomach, esophagus and the first portion of the small intestines. This procedure usually can be performed right here in our gastrointestinal office as an outpatient procedure.
When is an upper endoscopy recommended?
Our Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd GI doctor may recommend an upper endoscopy if you are experiencing any of these issues and can’t determine the cause:
- Problems swallowing
- Digestive bleeding
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
Endoscopies are also great for pinpointing tumors, ulcers and inflammation. In fact, an upper endoscopy is actually much better than an X-ray for detecting cancer or other growths within the digestive system.
Plus, some issues can actually be treated through an endoscopy including ulcer-related bleeding, polyps and narrowing of the stomach or esophagus.
What should I expect during my procedure?
The procedure only takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. The first thing that we will do is apply a local anesthetic to the back of the throat. An IV will also be used to administer both sedation and pain relief to help you feel relaxed and comfortable.
You will then lie on your side for the procedure and we will carefully insert the endoscope into your mouth until we reach the upper digestive tract. After your procedure, you may have a wait a few days to get your results.
Don’t let gastrointestinal issues keep you from the things you love. Turn to one of our Philadelphia, Langhorne and Bala Cynwyd, PA GI doctors at Gastrointestinal Specialists for the answers you’ve been looking for and get your body feeling good as new again.
Suffering from frequent, urgent stools, constipation or both? You may have IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders states that 10 to 15 percent of adult Americans have IBS of one severity or another. Women tend to have it more than men, but even children and senior adults may suffer from it at least periodically.
The physicians at Gastrointestinal Specialists in Bucks, Torresdale and Bala Cynwyd, PA understand the discomfort and lifestyle disruption Irritable Bowel Syndrome causes. So, they offer accurate diagnostics, ongoing treatment and coaching to manage this chronic GI problem.
Symptoms of and Reasons for IBS
Signs of IBS vary widely, but can include:
- frequent, urgent, loose stools
- pus and blood in a bowel movement
- pain, gas and bloating
- nausea and heartburn
Physicians speculate that something has gone awry with how the GI tract, nervous system and brain itself interact when a person struggles with an irritable bowel. Acute and chronic stress exacerbate the condition, and inflammation of the colon is a key component of the disease.
In addition, gastrointestinal experts feel that certain foods, such as those containing a lot of hot spices, caffeine or soluble fiber, play a role in flare-ups, as does the "fizziness" of soda. And, of course, as with so many medical problems, heredity is powerful. IBS definitely runs in families.
Diagnosis and Treatment in Bucks, Torresdale and Bala Cynwyd
Your gastroenterologist looks at patient symptoms carefully when considering IBS. He may order tests such as endoscopy or colonoscopy, which can be done on-site at Gastrointestinal Specialists. A complete blood count (CBC) and stool examination for Crohn's Disease frequently assist the doctor in ruling out other GI conditions.
While as needed medications such as anti-diarrhea drugs and anti-spasmodics assist with management of IBS, some patients benefit from long-term drugs such as some anti-depressants. They seem to sooth the nerves in the colon.
Additionally, your gastroenterologist recommends dietary changes which calm the smooth lining of the intestines. They include:
- limiting caffeine
- eliminating one possible irritating food at a time (e.g. navy beans or chili sauce)
- reducing gluten
- managing stress levels with counseling and relaxation techniques
- decreasing soluble fiber from fruits with skins and from fibrous vegetables
Let Us Help
If you think you are one of the millions of adults who struggle with an irritable bowel, get help. At Gastrointestinal Specialists, the doctors are highly trained and experienced in all areas of GI care and can assist you in a better quality of life. Contact one of the convenient office locations today for an appointment. Call (215) 632-3500 in Torresdale. In Bucks, phone (215) 702-7090 and in Bala Cynwyd call (610) 664-9700.