Patients who are late for screening during a pandemic can die unnecessarily, Dr. Intermountain said.
Intermountain Healthcare doctors are asking Utahns to schedule a colonoscopy screening after noticing a 15% increase in colon cancer cases at stage 3 and above.
Dr. Nathan Merriman, an Intermountain gastroenterologist, said the rise appears to be related to a 50% reduction in colonoscopy screening during coronavirus pandemics in Intermountain patients. rice field.
“The screening of routine medical care, especially colonoscopy, has been postponed,” says Merriman.
If colonoscopy is delayed, the mass grows or becomes cancerous. Oncologist Dr. Mark Lewis says the results can catastrophically intersect the pandemic, not just because the patient can get cancer.
“In the early days of the pandemic, I [asked],’How do you adjust this? If chemotherapy weakens the immune system in the midst of a pandemic, how can we conscientiously care for the patient? In a sense, it’s more important than ever to detect these cancers early and minimize the number of cases that require chemotherapy, “says Lewis. “Still, screening wasn’t very common, so I think I’ll actually meet people at a later stage.
“This is happening exactly at the wrong time,” he said.
Utah is unique in that “there is a particular problem with early-onset colorectal cancer here,” Lewis said. “For years, we’ve seen this happen faster and faster, and sometimes before the era when we were first screening it.”
The high incidence of early-onset cancer may be associated with patterns of antibiotic exposure in childhood. This has been identified by British researchers as a possible factor when cancer develops in young adults.
Currently, patients are recommended to start colonoscopy at the age of 45. If you have risk factors such as a family history of cancer, you are 40 years old.
“It is very important to talk to families about patterns of illness, illness and medical problems in order to understand what we are at risk and to actually take a multi-generational approach to it. “Meriman said.
This means looking for family patterns of colon cancer, colon polyps (small masses that grow in the colon and are commonly found in colon endoscopy screening), and other types of cancer. .. Patients with a personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis should also consult their doctor about the possibility of screening, Meriman advised.
If you have had a colonoscopy with a polyp found, you should immediately inform your family to know that they may be at high risk. Even if it’s unpleasant for the family to talk about poop and its exit route.
“No one wants to talk about things like rectal bleeding,” said Lewis, whose father died of colon cancer when he was a teenager. “But for us, this is what we are doing. And this is very stigmatized and the screening rate here because it is very difficult and unpleasant for people to speak. We believe that is lagging behind other cancers. “
Patients should also pay attention to irregular bowel movements, such as blood in the stool and stools of unusually small diameter.
“The other thing we’ve seen is … the symptoms last longer,” Merriman said. “There are some stories of patients who had rectal bleeding for 4, 6 or 9 months before undergoing colonoscopy, but that’s too long to wait.”
Lewis said that many cases of his cancer begin after symptoms such as rectal bleeding are dismissed as hemorrhoids.
“I saw too many cases of bleeding that had just been written down as” Oh, this is nothing. ” “
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