Step-by-step guide to colonoscopies

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All too often, people fear the unknown. In the realm of healthcare, this is especially true. Part of receiving care at a hospital or clinic is getting quality consultation about procedures, medication and better living practices. Colonoscopies are no different. If a person is approaching 50 years of age, it’s time to start thinking about scheduling a colonoscopy. However, many people in this age range put it off. Using this guide is a step in the right direction.

Travis Swartz, DO, has spent a great deal of his career performing this procedure, helping hundreds stave off colon cancer. According to Dr. Swartz, the main reason people avoid a colonoscopy is embarrassment. They think being sedated and having an endoscope inserted into their rectum is an invasion of privacy with outcomes not worth the hassle. This belief is simply not true. Although it is not a fun activity, screening is a great tool to discover cancer.

A step-by-step guide

A great way of reducing anxiety is to break things down into pieces. Dr. Swartz has put together a guide to coloscopies at Tri-County Health Care. It covers everything from the initial consultation to discharge.

Travis Swartz, DO, wants you to take steps toward better colorectal health.

Travis Swartz, DO

  • According to the Mayo Clinic, a person should receive a colonoscopy around 50. Follow-up colonoscopies will depend on a patient’s risk for cancer.
  • Typically, a primary care provider discusses a colonoscopy during an appointment. If they don’t, ask about it. An active approach is the best way to prevent colon cancer.
  • The procedure usually takes place about a week after scheduling.
  • There is preparation to do before a colonoscopy. Cleansing the colon is the most difficult aspect of the process. A patient will need to consume around a gallon of liquid mixed with a medicine that will force bowel movements.
  • Avoid red or blue liquids because they create issues with the imaging equipment.
  • You will get a confirmation call before the appointment.
  • After check-in, you are brought to a private room and to meet with the surgeon. Shortly after, patients meet with the anesthetist.
  • The patient goes back to the colonoscopy suite. In the suite, a surgeon, a reporter and an assistant will complete the procedure.
  • The patient is sedated during a colonoscopy. The actual procedures takes around 30 minutes. The entire process takes around three to four hours.
  • After, the patient returns to the private room. The patient enjoys a meal and sent home.

Efficiency

Technology, colonoscopies have come a long way. The screening only takes a few hours. The patient goes home the same day with no special instruction for recovery. According to Dr. Swartz, patients are usually very tired from being up most of the night. Most go immediately home to enjoy a nice nap.

Tri-County Health Care offers multiple colon cancer screening options. Visit TCHC.org for more information about screenings. Call 218-631-3510 to schedule.


Prostate cancer and early detection

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Prostate cancer is no joke. Every year, it claims the lives of thousands, reminding us of the importance of early detection. Around age 50, it is recommended that men get tested for prostate cancer. Testing and the early detection of the cancer allow for a wide array of treatment options.

The American Cancer Society lists prostate cancer as the most common cancer in men aside for skin cancer. They estimate around 248,530 new cases occurred in 2021 with 34,130 deaths.

Times have changed

Testing has evolved over the years. As a result, the days of rectal examinations are on the way out, with physicians favoring the prostate-specific antigen test. According to the National Cancer Institute, a PSA refers to a specific protein produced by malignant and normal cells found in the prostate. This test measures the level of the antigen present in a blood sample. An elevated PSA level may indicate prostate cancer.

A medical perspective

Dr. Hess has seen a sizable decline in traditional prostate examinations in recent years.

Ben Hess, M.D.

With blood testing gaining popularity, there is almost no reason to ignore the importance of screening. Chief Medical Officer Ben Hess, M.D., is a supporter of PSA testing.

“I very rarely have to do prostate exams. It is no longer recommended for asymptomatic patients. Instead I focus on how and why we use the PSA test instead.” -Dr. Hess

He commented on the hesitancy felt by men when the touchy subject is brought up. Dr. Hess reassures them that old-school rectal examinations are no longer universally recommended. The PSA blood test may be better in most cases.

Symptoms

Screening should begin around age 50 unless a family history of the cancer prompts earlier screening. Symptoms of the cancer are:PSA testing has replaced traditional prostate exams in many instances.

  • Frequent urination
  • Weak urination
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Pain in the rectum
  • Pain in the lower back

Treatment

This form of cancer can be treated in many ways, including surgery, radiation and cryotherapy. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the chances of dying from prostate cancer are fairly low with a 5-year survival rate of 99%. Most trusted sources point to early detection as the key to beating this cancer.

If you are nearing 50 or have symptoms of prostate cancer, Tri-County Health Care can help. To schedule an appointment, please call 218-631-3510.


Colonoscopies & Care: The importance of regular screenings

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Colonoscopies are often a topic of debate, with many people dismissing them as overly invasive and even an invasion of privacy. However, it doesn’t need to be dreaded and avoided. During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, organizations across the United States, including Tri-County Health Care, are taking a stand against colorectal cancer. Our mission is to educate and spread awareness about one of the most preventable forms of cancer.

Colorectal or Colon cancer awareness dark blue ribbon on helping hand. colonoscopies

Susan Marco

Susan Marco, an employee at Tri-County Health Care, is especially passionate about early prevention screening. Her story about family and early prevention truly illustrates the importance of testing. She is no stranger to colonoscopies and felt sharing her story would greatly alleviate how many feel when they hit the recommended screening age.

“It was the early discovery that saved her life,” said Susan when discussing her mother’s cancer diagnosis. At 50, Susan’s mother was diagnosed with colon cancer during a routine colonoscopy. Without the screening, she most likely would have died. Since then, Susan has felt it was her duty to embrace early prevention screening and encourage others to do the same. She recently completed her third colonoscopy in January 2021.

The preparation

The most difficult part about a colonoscopy according to Susan is the preparation. The procedure itself went fine but the preparation does require some steps. After a consultation with her doctor, she had to take an over-the-counter laxative that would clear her colon. The medicine is typically mixed with a sports drink.

The next morning, she visited Tri-County Health Care and was checked in for her appointment. The nurses made her stay comfortable and prepared her for surgery. She was sedated for the procedure. The entire process only took about half a day to complete.

“The preparation and procedure are such small things and take up such a small amount of time, so why wouldn’t everyone do this in order to avoid colon cancer?” said Susan when asked about her experience.

My family cared for me

“I work at Tri-County Health Care, so people asked if it was uncomfortable for me to have my co-workers take care of me during the procedure. It wasn’t uncomfortable at all! It felt like my family caring for me,” said Susan. Tri-County Health Care provides this type of environment for everyone. Comfortability is paramount to the team during such a delicate process.

Dr. Timothy Monson. colonoscopies

Timothy Monson, M.D., MBA, FACS

Susan is a recruiter, and it’s her job to find the best medical talent out there. She actually recruited Dr. Monson who conducted her colonoscopy. According to Susan, Dr. Monson is a remarkable provider and a kind man that approaches every surgical scenario with poise and professionalism. He is literally perfect for Tri-County Health Care and Susan knew she was in capable hands. The colonoscopy went well and Dr. Monson played a pivotal role in Susan’s continued good health.

Prevention is key

During her previous colonoscopies, Susan expressed that she felt like just a number. Her procedure was always met with cold sterility, far from the family-like atmosphere she experienced at Tri-County Health Care.

In many cases, colon cancer shows no symptoms, but routine screening can prevent and detect this type of cancer. Most people should begin receiving routine screening around age 45 and Tri-County Health Care offers multiple colon cancer screening options. Regardless of where you choose to have such a procedure, please join Susan in the fight against colorectal cancer and for March. Visit TCHC.org for more information about screening, and call 218-631-3510 to schedule an appointment.