It is the second cause of cancer related deaths in the U.S. It does not
discriminate between male or female. Each year, almost 150,000 Americans
are diagnosed with colon cancer. But, did you know that this potentially
deadly disease is up to 90% curable if detected and treated early? It
can be, and, it all starts with a colon cancer screening and education
– both available at Harlingen Medical Center’s nationally
recognized Gastrointestinal Laboratory and two Doc Talk Lectures, scheduled
in March, featuring Gastroenterologists’ Jason Phillips, M.D. and
Nicole Grigg-Gutierrez, M.D.
“March is colorectal cancer awareness month and this is an ideal
time to highlight the importance of a colon cancer screening,” said
Melanie Little, R.N., Day Patient and Endoscopy Unit Manager at Harlingen
Medical Center. “Screenings have helped us find and treat this deadly
disease in more and more patients.”
A colonoscopy may very well save your life. That’s the message that
Dr. Phillips will convey when he presents the next Harlingen Medical Center
Doc Talk Lecture, scheduled for Wednesday, March 8, 2017, at 6:00 p.m.,
in the Medical Office Building Conference Room, located at 5505 S. Expressway
77, at Harlingen Medical Center. His presentation, titled,
Can a Colonoscopy Save Your Life?, is structured to educate the public on the importance of this potentially
Dr. Nicole Grigg-Gutierrez will also offer a Harlingen Medical Center Doc
Talk Lecture, titled
Colon Cancer Prevention: What Everyone Should Know, and is scheduled for Wednesday, March 15, 2017, at 6:00 p.m., in the
Medical Office Building Conference Room at Harlingen Medical Center. Her
presentation is structured to educate the public of the signs and warnings
that must be heeded to ensure prevention.
According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, symptoms may vary for individuals,
but, some of the signs and warnings people should take seriously enough
to see their family physician, include:
- A change in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in stool
- Rectal bleeding, or finding blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas, pain or feeling full
- Nausea or vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chronic fatigue
According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, it is men and women older than
50 years of age who should be screened for colon cancer. This includes
those who have a family history of colon polyps or cancer; those with
ulcerative colitis and/or Crohn’s disease; and, those with genetic
conditions Hereditary Non—polyposis Colon Cancer (HNPCC) or Familial
Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP). However, more and more men and women, between
the ages of 40 and 50, are finding that they are in need of preventative
treatment after discovering they have polyps. Some simply have the screening
done because of family history of cancer.
During a colonoscopy screening at Harlingen Medical Center, if the patient’s
gastroenterologist sees any polyps are developing in the patient’s
colon, the polyps can be removed right then and there, so the patient
doesn’t have to come back for a second procedure.
The polyps which are removed are then sent to a pathologist to determine
if they are pre-cancerous.
During the procedure, the physician uses a long flexible, lit tube to look
inside the walls of the colon and rectum. Patients must follow a clear-liquid
diet and take special preparations to clear their bowels prior to having
the test – many patients say this is the “worst part”
of having a colonoscopy. Since anesthesia is available, many patients
report little or no pain or discomfort during the procedure itself.
A colon cancer screening generally takes about 45-minutes, if not less,
and can often be performed comfortably and safely without the use of medication.
If the screening is determined by the gastroenterologist to be an extensive
screening, then the patient will receive a sedative.
National Recognition, ASGE
The Gastrointestinal Laboratory at Harlingen Medical Center is recognized
as a national leader in quality by the American Society for Gastrointestinal
Endoscopy (ASGE), a leading gastrointestinal medical society. The recognition
is the result of the laboratory’s commitment to patient safety and
quality in endoscopy and by meeting the ASGE Recognition Program’s
rigorous criteria, which includes following the ASGE guidelines on privileging,
quality assurance, endoscope reprocessing, Center for Disease (CDC) infection
control guidelines and ensuring endoscopy staff competency.
According to the ASGE, a laboratory is only recognized after its staff
has demonstrated absolute competence relative to their roles, demonstrated
the adoption of unit policies specific to ongoing assessment of performance
relative to key quality indicators, and attest that the unit has an established
infrastructure and personnel dedicated to infection control and prevention.
If you would like to attend any of the scheduled Doc Talk Lectures, please
RSVP to the Harlingen Medical Center Business Development and Marketing
Department at (956) 365-1027, or at