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Patient Blood Management and Colorectal Issues

UPMC Content 2

An Interview with David Medich, MD

Why should patients who desire to avoid transfusion be informed about colorectal cancer?

Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The good news is that a colonoscopy can lead to an earlier diagnosis or even prevention of colon cancer.

All colon cancers start as adenomatous polyps. Over time, these polyps can become cancers. A colonoscopy can detect polyps and cancer very early, and even remove them.

Patients hoping to avoid blood transfusions have a special reason to get regular health screenings, such as colonoscopies, because these tests can prevent the need for major surgeries that can be accompanied by large surgical blood loss.

When should a person begin regular colonoscopies?

Your doctor can help you determine that, but the answer will depend on your:

  • Age
  • Symptoms
  • Personal and family health history
  • Other risk factors

So, it's important to determine if anyone in your family has ever had a diagnosis of colon, rectal, or other cancers. Even in the absence of a family history of cancer, all persons over age 50 should get tested at least once every 10 years.

Are there other things a person can do to reduce the risk of colon cancer?

Some ways to reduce your risk for colon cancer include:

  • Getting regular exercise
  • Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily
  • Staying at your ideal weight
  • Avoiding tobacco
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation

However, even if you feel fine and take good care of your health, you’re still at risk for colon cancer. Proper testing is necessary for everyone.

What is the prognosis for colorectal cancer?

Early detection is the key to successful treatment. Remember, colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable.

Recent statistics from the American Cancer Society are encouraging, because colorectal cancer prevalence is decreasing. Among those patients found to have cancer, more are being effectively cured, often by minimally invasive treatment.

How do you feel about treating patients with colorectal needs who decline blood transfusions?

James Celebrezze, MD, and I have been treating patients who require bloodless surgery, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, for more than 15 years.

Additionally, our staff is committed to combining medical and surgical strategies with an environment of respect for giving these patients care that is effective and that respects their wishes about avoidance of transfusions.

We would be glad to evaluate patients who cannot accept transfusions for their colorectal needs. Our office may be reached at 1-877-684-7189.

Learn more about Dr. Medich.
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