Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Routine Blood Tests Could Replace Colonoscopy

Every man or woman over the age of 50 dread the words from their doctor:  "We  are scheduling you for a routine Colonoscopy."  For those of you who don't know what Colonoscopy is, WebMD has a very good explanation:
Colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine (rectum and colon). He or she uses a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope to look at the colon. A colonoscopy helps find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. During a colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected (biopsy) and abnormal growths can be taken out. Colonoscopy can also be used as a screening test to check for cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum (polyps).

The colonoscope is a thin, flexible tube that ranges from 48in to 72in long. A small video camera is attached to the colonoscope so that your doctor can take pictures or video of the large intestine (colon). The colonoscope can be used to look at the whole colon and the lower part of the small intestine. A test called sigmoidoscopy shows only the rectum and the lower part of the colon.

Before this test, you will need to clean out your colon (colon prep). Colon prep takes 1 to 2 days, depending on which type of prep your doctor recommends. Some preps may be taken the evening before the test. For many people, the prep for a colonoscopy is more trying than the actual test. Plan to stay home during your prep time since you will need to use the bathroom often. The colon prep causes loose, frequent stools and diarrhea so that your colon will be empty for the test. The colon prep may be uncomfortable and you may feel hungry on the clear liquid diet. If you need to drink a special solution as part of your prep, be sure to have clear fruit juices or soft drinks to drink after the prep because the solution tastes salty.
Dave Berry explained the Colonoscopy best:
I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy.

A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly thru Minneapolis . Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner. I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn”t really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, “HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!

I left Andy”s office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called “MoviPrep,” which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America’s enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous. Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn”t eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor. Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons.) Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes – and here I am being kind – like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, “a loose, watery bowel movement may result.” This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don’t want to be too graphic, here, but: Have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep. The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, “What if I spurt on Andy?” How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. At first I was ticked off that I hadn’t thought of this is, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house.

Finish reading here.
One of the major reason to have a Colonoscopy is to detect Colon cancer at an early stage.  And we all know that early detection can save your life.  So we submit to the humiliation of a 17,000 foot tube being shoved where the sun doesn't shine.

Until now.

Now there is real hope.  Researchers at Tel Aviv University's School of Public Health and Maccabi Healthcare Services' Department of Medical Informatics have discovered that routine blood tests can provide an early warning for colorectal cancer.
Anemia, a common blood disorder characterized by low hemoglobin levels, has long been associated with those suffering from colorectal cancer. It doesn't happen suddenly, however - and Tel Aviv University researchers say they have found that gradually decreasing hemoglobin levels can actually indicate a potential for colon cancer years in advance.

Graduate student Inbal Goldshtein, who works with Dr. Gabriel Chodick and Dr. Varda Shalev of TAU's School of Public Health and Maccabi Healthcare Services' Department of Medical Informatics, says that paying close attention to routine blood test results can be an effective screening system for colon cancer. Though some 50,000 Americans are expected to die from colon cancer in 2010, better screening leading to early diagnosis and effective treatment can significantly reduce those numbers, she says.

Goldshtein's study, recently published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, shows that most patients with colon cancer have a history of consistently declining hemoglobin levels up to four years before being diagnosed with the disease. Until now, only a sharp decrease in hemoglobin levels was sought out as an indicator of colon cancer. But Goldshtein and her fellow researchers have discovered that it's the continuous long-term decline that may announce the onset of the disease.

Specifically, a declining trend of more than 0.28 grams per deciliter every six months over a four-year period was observed - and as a result, may serve as a warning of illness on the horizon.

Over 3,000 patients suffering from colorectal cancer participated in the study, as did 10,000 control cases without colorectal cancer. Goldshtein and her fellow researchers looked at data from each participant's blood tests over a ten-year period, retrieved from the computerized database of Maccabi Healthcare Services.

Though hemoglobin levels may vary in everyone as a result of aging, a distinct trend was discovered among participants who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer during the study period. Approximately four years prior to their diagnoses, their blood tests began to show a continuous decline in hemoglobin levels.

For the most part, Goldshtein says, these warning signs went unnoticed: "In practice, a doctor will look at the final results, and see if the hemoglobin levels are within a normal range. But this is not accurate enough. It is important to look at the continuing trend of each individual. If a person experiences a consistent decline relative to his own average level, it may be cause for concern."

The benefit of this screening process is that it can be part of an routine physical exam. Current testing for colorectal cancer is often expensive and unpleasant – and many people who should undergo the test do not do so.

The next step, says Dr. Shalev, is to create an algorithm which will automatically detect suspicious declines in hemoglobin levels, advising physicians to send their patients for further testing.
Not only have the researchers at Tel Aviv University have an easier test for colorectal cancer, but Prof. Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu, head of Tel Aviv University`s Department of Psychology has a new drug  treatment.
Cancer surgery wreaks havoc on a body`s immune system and stress hormones exacerbate the problem. As a result, about half of those who undergo surgery for tumor removal experience a recurrence of cancer in the same region or other parts of the body.

A new clinical approach being developed and tested by Tel Aviv University researchers may be the key to making cancer operations more successful. Prof. Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu, head of Tel Aviv University`s Department of Psychology, has opened on a new frontier in cancer research: he is recruiting colon cancer patients for a new clinical study which will test a cocktail of drugs to prevent the negative effects of stress responses to surgery. If successful, it will help the immune system maintain its vigor and prevent the occurrence of new tumors.

Combining two widely-known medications that affect immune and stress responses, Prof. Ben-Eliyahu has developed a formula he hopes will keep an immune system strong and prevent the recurrence of cancer. Already tested in animal models, the compounds will be employed in a clinical trial in Israel, for which Prof. Ben-Eliyahu`s team is currently recruiting patients and funds. They hope to have 800 colon cancer patients participate in the trial, due to begin shortly.

Increasing survival 300%

Read it all here.
Medical advances to benefit the whole world, yet those who wish everyone to Boycott Israel would not give a second glance to using Israeli invented products or medical breakthroughs.  There is a word for them: 


Israel is one of the smallest nations in the world, with only 7,308,800 people.  (Less than the State of New Jersey with 8,707,739).  Every Arab nation, let alone Muslim ones, have a larger population. They have greater wealth, bigger universities, etc... And yet, with all their resources, all their money their best achievements are tainted with superstition and junk science.

Now you can make the decision to boycott Israeli products, professors, inventions etc.. or you can decide to use those wonderful inventions and discoveries to improve your life.

The choice is yours.

1 comment:

Maggie Thornton said...

That is really interesting findalis. I've already sent your link to a friend who has colon cancer in their family. I'll be watching the hemoglobin levels from now on.