Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS).
EUS is a minimally invasive procedure in which an ultrasound probe is affixed to the tip of a thin, flexible tube (an endoscope) and inserted through the digestive tract. Ultrasound waves from the GI tract are used to provide high-resolution images of the digestive system organs. These detailed images deliver more accuracy than non-surgical diagnostic tests and diagnostic cross-sectional imaging, therefore provide earlier detection of tumors, metastatic disease and other significant changes that could be found in areas such as the colon and pancreas.
Digestive and Colon Health
Good digestion is often taken for granted – until there’s a problem such as heartburn, acid reflux, bloating, etc.
If you’re having digestive problems, see your primary care physician. If the problems cant be resolved easily, you may need to see a gastroenterologist. A gastroenterologist treats conditions of the stomach, pancreas, bowels and colon.
One disease that they can diagnose is colon cancer. They also can help you prevent this disease with regular screenings.
The American Cancer Society estimates 142,250 colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2018. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States for men and women combined.
The good news is that the death rate has been dropping over the last 20 years.
- As more and more people are getting regular screenings, polyps are being found and removed before they can develop into cancers.
- Screening is also allowing more colorectal cancers to be found earlier when the disease is easier to cure.
Risk factors you cannot change:
- Age: your risk gets higher as you get older
- Having had colorectal cancer or certain kinds of polyps before
- Having a history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- Race or ethnic background, such as being African American or Ashkenazi
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain family syndromes, like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC, also called Lynch syndrome)
Risk factors linked to things you do:
Some lifestyle-related factors have been linked to a higher risk of colorectal cancer.
- Certain types of diets: a diet that is high in red meats (beef, lamb, or liver) and processed meats (like hot dogs, bologna, and lunch meat) can increase your colorectal cancer risk. Cooking meats at very high heat (frying, broiling, or grilling) can create chemicals that might increase cancer risk.
- Lack of exercise
- Being very overweight or obese
- Heavy alcohol use
Colon cancer can have many symptoms.
However, in the early stages, people with colon cancer often have no symptoms at all. This is why regular screening beginning at 50 is an important investment in your healthy future.
- Local colon cancer symptoms are those that affect your colon.
- Change in bowel habits
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Dark red or bright red blood in stools, or black “tarry” stools
- Stools that are thinner than usual
- Abdominal discomfort, bloating, frequent gas pains, or cramps
Systemic Colon Cancer Symptoms
Systemic colon cancer symptoms are those that affect your whole body.
- Unintentional weight loss (losing weight when not dieting or trying to lose weight)
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Anemia (low red blood cell count or low iron in your red blood cells)
- Jaundice (yellow color to the skin and whites of the eyes)
Preventing colorectal cancer or finding it early:
The American Cancer Society believes that preventing colorectal cancer (not just finding it early) should be a major reason for getting tested.
Colon cancer begins with a growth (a polyp) that is not yet cancer. Tests that have the best chance of finding both polyps and cancer should be your first choice
Colorectal cancer screening tests
Screening tests are used to look for disease in people who do not have any symptoms. In many cases, these tests can find colorectal cancers at an early stage and greatly improve treatment outcomes. Screening tests can also help prevent some cancers by allowing doctors to find and remove polyps that might become cancer. Screening tests for colorectal cancer include:
Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and fecal immunochemical test (FIT): Samples of stool (feces) are checked for blood, which might be a sign of a polyp or cancer.
Sigmoidoscopy: A flexible, lighted tube is put into the rectum and lower colon to check for polyps and cancer.
Colonoscopy: A longer, flexible tube is used to look at the entire colon and rectum.
Double contrast barium enema: This is an x-ray test of the colon and rectum.
At what age and how often do you need a screening?
In general, both men and women at average risk of colorectal cancer should begin screening tests at age 50. But you should talk with your doctor about your own health and your family history so that you can choose the best screening plan for you.
To find a gastroenterologist (a physician who specializes in colon health), please click here