The Scoop on Poop

toilet paperWhat are your bowel movements telling you?

Whether you love or hate the Quilted Northern TP ads on TV,now’s the  time to get real about what happens in the bathroom. Before March morphs into April we need to spread the scoop about poop in recognition of colorectal cancer awareness month.

Bottom line, (excuse the pun), we all poop. So now it’s time to stand up, or sit down, and take notice of what our bowel movements are telling us.

Signs of everything from disease to stress may show up in your bathroom bowl. The key is knowing what to look for — and what the signs may mean.

First off, there is no normal. People are different. So are bowel movements. The size, shape and consistency of feces will change greatly from person to person.

So instead of looking for “normal,” look for change. Are you going less, or more often? Has the consistency altered? Have you gone from runny to solid? If you experience a noticeable change that lasts, it’s time to see your doctor.

bowel_movement-360x307Are you seeing red?

If there is blood in your feces on a recurring basis, you need to see a doctor, stat. Blood can be a sign of polyps or colorectal cancer. It also can be caused by benign conditions such as hemorrhoids and anal fissures. In any case, it’s worth getting checked out.

Also, keep an eye out for other symptoms: weight loss, fever, chills. When they come together, those are “high-alert” symptoms of bowel disorders.

Size does matter!

If you used to have sizeable stools but now they are always pencil thin and hard to pass, consult your doctor. In certain types of colorectal cancer, the bowel gets narrow, and so can your bowel movements. And while thin stools do not automatically mean cancer you should still see your doctor and have a  colonoscopy just to be on the safe side.

colonoscopyConsistency, consistency, consistency

We all have bouts of diarrhea from time to time, usually as a result of food poisoning or an infection. But if you have frequent diarrhea it could be a sign of an inflammatory bowel condition such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

The scoop on stress

Your body as well as your brain reacts to things that go on around us. The impact of stress and unresolved issues may show up in your bathroom.

So next time you go to the bathroom instead of simply wiping and flushing take a moment or two to look and learn what your bowel movements are telling you.

No s**t!

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A Breath of relief for Colorectal Cancer diagnosis

Colorectal-Cancer-Tests-and-Diagnosis-BLAccording to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the second leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States.  In 2008, 142,950 people were diagnosed and 52,857 people died from it.

Although early diagnosis can often lead to a complete cure, many people who should get tested, don’t.  Maybe it’s because the current diagnostic tests for colorectal cancer include colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy.

katie_couric_colonoscopyFew people in America will forget that day almost 12 years ago when  Katie Couric underwent a colonoscopy, live on the “Today” show in an effort to encourage screening after her husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer in 1998.  And while she did her best to show that the procedure does not have to be either uncomfortable or embarrassing, and there was a 20% spike in colonoscopies in the years that followed, according to the CDC half of colorectal cases are still being diagnosed in the late stages

This is, please excuse the pun, a huge bummer, because if found in the early stages, colon cancer has a survival rate of over 90 percent.

Which is why SRxA’s Word on Health was excited to read a new study, published in a supplement to the British Journal of Surgery, which showed that a simple breath analysis could be used for colorectal cancer screening.

Apparently, cancer tissue has different metabolism compared to normal healthy cells and produces some substances which can be detected in the breath of these patients. Analysis of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) linked to cancer represents a new frontier in cancer screening.

cancer breath testDonato Altomare, MD, of the Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation and his team of researchers at the University Aldo Moro of Bari, collected exhaled breath samples from 37 patients with colorectal cancer and 41 healthy controls.

Results showed that patients with colorectal cancer have a different selective VOC pattern compared with healthy controls. Tests based upon these VOC’s are able to discriminate patients with colorectal cancer with an accuracy of over 75%.

The technique of breath sampling is very easy and non-invasive, although the method is still in the early phase of development,” Altomare notes. “Our study’s findings provide further support for the value of breath testing as a screening tool.”

A previous pilot breath test study showed that the technique is not only able to detect cancer, but it can also differentiate between the four most common forms of cancer: lung, bowel, breast and prostate.

While this is all still at an early stage there is no doubt that simplifying the methods for early diagnosis of cancer, will have a significant impact on cutting death rates.

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