Williamson Medical Center is “Embracing Women’s Health” in 2020 by hosting four lunch and learns.
On Thursday, Feb. 20, the first conversation for women was held in the atrium of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital Vanderbilt at Williamson Medical Center with over 100 women from the community present.
Dr. Elizabeth Lindsey, M.D., a gastroenterologist with WMC, was the guest speaker, discussing “Everything you want to know about gastroenterology – but were too afraid to ask.”
Lindsey pointed out some of the topics being discussed caused “more embarrassment than fear of asking the question.” She offered an overview of understanding bloating and constipation, the complex issue surrounding fecal microbiota transplantation that is a growing in the GI arena.
Giving the ladies examples and tips for correcting GI issues, Lindsey spoke to the common concerns patients present to her daily. She also stressed knowing when and why to get a colonoscopy.
March is Colon Cancer Awareness month, and WMC is promoting at the hospital and in the community that colonoscopies are only needed once every 10 years, unless polyps are detected, in which case one every three-five years.
“Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of death in men and women,” Lindsey said. “There is an increase in incidence in African Americans, and there is an increase after the 50 decade of life.”
While most insurance companies don’t pay for a colonoscopy until age 50, in the oncology arena, the guideline has been updated to age 45.
“Aetna Insurance has adopted the new age, and other insurance companies hopefully will be changing to the new guideline,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey showed a slide reviewing the risk factors for colon cancer: a family history of cancer and polyps, personal history of polyps, age, inflammatory bowel disease, smoking, genetic conditions, diet (red meat and processed meats), alcohol, Type II Diabetes and obesity.
Lindsey gave these facts about colon cancer:
1. Having a colonoscopy saves lives – 53% reduced chance of dying from colon cancer
2. 51% of colon cancer patients are under 55
3. 11% increase in death from colon cancer
How does Tennessee rank in the fight against colon cancer?
“We know only 67% of Tennesseans are having a colonoscopy,” Lindsey said. “The goal is 80%. Why does this matter? Because the incidence of colon cancer decreased by 77,500, and the number of deaths decreased by 31,800.”
Polyps, a growth of tissue in the lining of the colon, is a key in detecting early colon cancer. Lindsey shared a story of a 36-year-old woman who came in with symptoms — she found a polyp during her colonoscopy. Without a doubt, Lindsey knows this would have been a cancer situation if she had waited.
She also pointed out “the test isn’t that bad,” and she recently underwent a colonoscopy herself.
While prep is necessary, one thing to check is that your insurance has “Open Access,” so you can simply schedule an exam. Some insurance companies don’t require a visit to the doctor first.
“We’re all busy people; this can save time,” Lindsey said.
For cost and coverage, Lindsey recommended checking with your insurance company.
To learn more about Lindsey and the GI staff at WMC, visit https://williamsonmedicalcenter.org/medical-services/gastroenterology-williamson-medical-center/.
To learn the all the facts about colorectal cancer, visit https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/colorectalawareness/index.htm.