Colon Cancer Awareness is in the Air!

March is Colon Cancer awareness month, and with that an influx of screening colonoscopies were scheduled here at Digestive Health Specialists! We did our best to show the community how important it is to get screened and how you can participate in fighting this disease. DHS is participating in the Colon Cancer Coalition’s annual Get Your Rear in Gear 5K on April 23rd, 2016. The race is right here in Winston Salem at Bailey Park! Register here. We would love to see our patients at this event! In other efforts to reach the community, several of our doctors have been featured on local radio station 600 AM WSJS to speak about different topics including hemorrhoids, colon cancer, and “50 free colons.” We hope you tuned in and continue to do so! Here are some key points to keep in mind when considering a screening colonoscopy and actively decreasing your risk of colon cancer: • Colon Cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. • Colonoscopy screenings apply to everyone. Age recommendations for individuals vary based on family history, personal history, and race. • Colon cancer often has no symptoms. You should not wait until symptoms arise to act! • Colonoscopy is intended to be a preventative measure. If you put it off and wait until symptoms are present, the disease may already be in a late stage. • Reduction of incidence can be up to 90% effective if your prep is good. • In Dr. Christopher Jue’s words, “There are two types of risks: those you can control and those you cannot.” Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, heavy alcohol use, and high fat diet are things you want to avoid. • Colon Cancer is very preventable! With that being said, call our office at 336-768-6211 to schedule your colonoscopy today if you are of age! This disease can be detected and prevented with proper screening. Please help us spread the word!

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November: A Time for Awareness

November not only marks the beginning of shorter days and longer nights, it is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month! Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. among both men and women. Here at Digestive Health Specialists, our providers see patients for pancreatic problems in addition to a multitude of digestive issues. It is important to be aware of the risk factors for pancreatic cancer, especially ones that can be modified by lifestyle. I asked our own Dr. Gonzalez and Dr. Jue, who specialize in Pancreatic diseases, some specific questions about this form of cancer. Their answers have been combined to give insight on how you can decrease your risk and why this cancer type is climbing in prevalence. How can one lessen his or her risk for Pancreatic Cancer through lifestyle? Patients with familial pancreatic cancer in first and second degree relatives are at a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Breast cancer is also a risk factor associated with certain germline mutation, among which increase one’s risk of pancreatic cancer. Of the risk factors we may be able to control, diabetes has an affiliation to pancreatic cancer but it is unclear whether it is a result of the cancer or if it is a risk factor in itself. There is conflicting data to support both theories. Obesity, physical inactivity, and cigarette smoking all are associated with a much higher risk of developing this form of cancer. With smoking cessation, we could see an approximate 25 percent decrease in pancreatic cancer deaths in our country per year. As for body weight, a BMI of 30 or greater is associated with a significant increased risk of pancreatic cancer in comparison to those with a BMI of less than 23. Why do you feel this type of cancer is on the rise? While this disease is rare before the age of 45, incidence rises sharply after that point. There are currently no screening guidelines for this cancer type and most diagnoses of it are made at a late stage with no curative options. With surgery being the only curative treatment, only 15 – 20% of pancreatic cancers are operable at the time of diagnosis. In addition, more than two-thirds of American adults are considered overweight or obese. What types of procedures are done to address problems of the pancreas? Patients with symptoms like upper abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, and jaundice over age 45 should seek medical attention regarding their pancreatic health. Pancreatic problems can be addressed through ERCP, EUS and surgery. Radiology tests of the pancreas include MRCP, CT scans, ultrasound and CT or ultrasound guided biopsies. Lab work related to the pancreas includes amylase, lipase, and CA19-9.

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What is an Endoscopy?

Have you recently been told by your doctor you need an Endoscopy? Have you been scheduled for one and still curious about the procedure? Questions are expected. Here at Digestive Health Specialists many of our patients call back after scheduling an EGD with questions that they may have forgotten to ask in the office. We accept those questions with open arms because we want to make sure our patients are 100% comfortable with everything prior to the day of their procedure. When questions arise the best one to take those questions to is none other than a gastroenterologist! Digestive Health’s very own Dr. Christopher Jue took some time to sit down and answer a few questions for us so we could share them with you! Dr. Jue, how do you perform an Endoscopy? What happens in the procedure room? “First of all an Endoscopy is performed to evaluate the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (small intestine). After the patient goes to sleep, the endoscope is passed through the mouth into the esophagus. The examination is then performed which usually takes 5-10 minutes. During that time pictures are taken. Pictures you will be given at discharge following the procedure. Also, biopsies can be obtained and dilation of strictures can be performed.” Why would you order an Endoscopy for a patient? What are the warning signs or diagnoses that would flag a patient for needing an Endoscopy scheduled? “Reasons for an endoscopy include trouble swallowing, reflux, pain with swallowing, a sensation of something stuck in the throat, food impactions, screening for Barrett’s esophagus (a pre-cancerous change in the lining of the esophagus), screening for varices in patients with liver disease, anemia, abdominal pain, bleeding, nausea and vomiting, chest pain.” Any type of procedure can be scary and make us anxious. If you have an upcoming Endoscopy or Colonoscopy and have more questions for your doctor, please don’t hesitate to call us at 336.768.6211!

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How does your diet affect constipation?

Constipation can be a horrible feeling. It can be especially difficult when you haven’t passed any stool for several days and you begin to feel very full. Many patients who are constipated can treat their own symptoms without even coming to the office. One of the most essential ingredients in the “constipation free potion” is water – you probably knew that was coming! Water hydrates our bodies, of course! It also softens the stool and allows it to smoothly move through the colon. Furthermore, it makes bowel movements easier and less painful. Digestive Health Specialists’ Dr. William Bray suggests 8 glasses of water a day along with a high fiber diet. As he mentioned, another diet adjustment that patients with constipation can make is adding more fiber to the mix. So, how does fiber really help constipation and what foods can it be found in? Dr. Bray answered those questions perfectly: “One way to keep things moving is by getting enough fiber in your diet, which makes stool bulkier and softer so it’s easier to pass. Gradually increase the amount of fiber in your diet until you’re getting at least 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily. Good fiber sources include: • Bran and other whole grains found in cereals, breads, and brown rice • Vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, and asparagus • Fresh fruits, or dried fruits such as raisins, apricots, and prunes • Beans While you’re having an issue with constipation, limit foods that are high in fat and low in fiber, like cheese and other dairy products, processed foods, and meat. They can make constipation worse.” And then there is exercising! Exercising also aids in getting those bowels moving!! Any type of aerobic exercise gets the heart rate up and the blood moving more quickly through the body. With an increased heart rate, all of the muscles in the body contract and function more efficiently. The muscles connected to the digestive system are included! The more we pump that heart, the quicker our stool travels where it needs to go – OUT! If your constipation doesn’t improve with a diet change and increased water intake, call our office at 336.768.6211 and set up your appointment today.

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Seeing Red?

Let’s get a little personal, shall we?  We all eat, drink and then digest.  What we put in our bodies has to come out.  We all go to the restroom and have bowel movements.  It’s normal. It’s a part of life.  But what’s not normal is red on the tissue or red in the stool – and by red we mean blood.  Seeing red can mean several different things.  It can be associated with problems in your esophagus all the way down to your rectum. If you see red, what should you do?  The best option is to call our office or send our nurse a portal message.  We can then set you up for an appointment with one of our providers for you to come in and discuss the symptoms you are experiencing. To give you a little more insight on how your appointment might go we asked Mary-Anne White, RN, BSN our Clinical Nurse Manager a few questions. Here is what she had to say: When someone is being seen in the office for rectal bleeding or blood in their stool what are the first steps a Digestive Health Specialists provider will take? “Usually when a patient comes in for rectal bleeding the provider will have an interview with the patient to gather symptoms and information about their rectal bleeding.  A physical exam is usually performed. The exam may or may not include a rectal exam.  They will then order follow up testing based on their symptoms.  This will usually include ordering a colonoscopy.” What could some of the follow up testing possibly be? “A FIT test is another test that may be ordered if you are seeing red.  This test is to see if you have any blood in your stool that you may or may not see when you have a bowel movement. A kit is provided to the patient with all supplies and instructions needed to perform this test.  Basically the patient places a piece of tissue paper across the toilet and has their bowel movement on this paper.  They will then use the stick provided in kit and poke the stick in their stool in six different places and then place the stick back in the vial provided.  They will do this one or two times depending on what the provider ordered.  They will then return these vials to us and we can run this test in office and call the patient with results.” Lastly, for those out there who are a little curious about some of the possible causes of the blood we asked Mary-Anne what some of them may be.  Here were her comments: “The most common causes of rectal bleeding are hemorrhoids and anal fissures.  Other causes include colitis, inflammatory bowel disease and colon/rectal cancers.” Here at Digestive Health Specialists we strive to always inform our patients about their condition or health issue when given a diagnosis. If you are having blood in your stool or “seeing red” please do not hesitate to give our office at call at 336.768.6211 and set up an appointment.  We are here to give you the best patient care possible. We serve patients in Winston-Salem, Kernersville, Advance, Thomasville and King.

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“My insurance won’t pay for a colonoscopy”

Do you think you can’t afford a colonoscopy?  You aren’t sure how much your insurance would cover or even if they would cover at all?  Or maybe you don’t even have insurance?! We understand.  For some the thought of having another bill or more debt hanging over their head is the last thing they want.  But, what if we told you that your insurance may cover it?! And, what if we told the ones that are self-pay that we can set you up on a monthly payment plan that fits your budget?  Well, we can! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 51,783 people in the United States died from colorectal cancer in 2011 and 135,260 people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Those are bigger numbers than any number on a billing statement.  Ultimately without a preventive screening you could be one of the “51,783.”  Don’t let the unknown cost to make you avoid a colonoscopy. “Most insurance companies pay for screening colonoscopies.  We provide all patients with an estimate ahead of time.  If it isn’t covered at 100% we can work out a payment plan to help with the cost.” Michelle L. Forss Billing & Information Systems Manager Digestive Health Specialists, PA Do we have your curiosity up?  Are you wondering what your insurance would cover?  Call 336-768-6211 and ask for our billing office.  You can give us your insurance information right over the phone.  Most of the time we can give you an estimate in minutes.  Don’t let the unknown cost keep you away from one simple procedure that could possibly save your life.

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We portal! Do you portal?

What is “portal” you may ask!?  It is the “patient portal!!”  Here at Digestive Health Specialists we really encourage our patients to create their own patient portal and it is very easy to do!  “When checking in for appointments their email address is verified on the Phreesia Pad,” mentioned Jessie Mabe, Patient Access Specialist. “…then with one click of my mouse an email is sent straight to the patient with a pin code and instructions on how to set up their own patient portal account!” Why should a patient create a patient portal account? It definitely is the fastest way to communicate with the doctors and clinical staff. Their response will be much faster through the portal verses a phone call.  Also, patients can schedule appointments through the portal without calling and waiting for a scheduler to answer the phone on high volume days.  Most radiology and lab results can be sent via the portal.  That sure beats snail mail!  Results in days verses weeks! Why not get results faster using the portal? Wait, there is more!!  Another thing the patient portal is capable of is allowing patients to update their information, change of address, and insurance, all without picking up the phone.   Have you been convinced to “portal”?  If so, head on over to: Digestive Health Patient Portal and set up your very own portal today!  If you have any problems please call us at 336-768-6211! Now…go get your patient portal ON!

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Move it on up!

Are you putting your first colonoscopy on the bottom of your “to-do” list? Is the reason because you are afraid of what the doctor might possibly find?  Yes, the worst case “findings” would be colon cancer.  But, what you must remember is colon cancer is extremely treatable when detected early.  Moving up a colonoscopy on your “to-do” list could save your life.  It can be extremely easy to put off this type of procedure because the unknown can be easy to avoid. According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the US. Those statistics should be enough to move that colon screening from the bottom to the top of your to-do list.  Also, according to the CCA  1 in 3 adults aged 50-75 are NOT up-to-date with recommended colorectal cancer screening!  Screening is the number one way to reduce your risk! By having regular colon screenings you could possibly save your life.  If you put off a colonoscopy for a few years because of your fear you could decrease your survival rate if cancer is found. Digestive Health asked their very own Physician Assistant, Anthony Pleasant what his response would be to his patient if they told him they didn’t want to go through with a colonoscopy for fear of a possible cancer diagnosis. Here is what he had to say: “I would tell any patient that the peace of mind of knowing you have a clean colon with no evidence of colon cancer or polyps would outweigh any anxiety you may experience over possible findings.” A colonoscopy only takes an average of 24 hours with prep and procedure.  Just think, you are giving up only 24 hours of your life to possibly save your life.  Or, better yet, to get an A+ colon report from your doctor during post procedure recovery!  It’s easier on the wallet as well if you are diagnosed early because most of the time cost for treatment isn’t as high compared to detection later in life.  Don’t wait because of the possible findings and get screened today.  The highest cost will not cost you a dime but it may ultimately cost you your life. Looking for more facts about colon screening to help persuade you to get that colonoscopy?  Visit the Colon Cancer Alliance website: http://fightcolorectalcancer.org/prevent-it/facts-about-colorectal-cancer/ Share This on Facebook

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  • Visit one of our five convenient locations in your community:
    To reach any of our offices, call: (336) 768-6211 fax: (336) 768-6869

  • Winston-Salem Office & Endoscopy Center

    Monday-Friday
    Office: 8 am-5 pm
    Endoscopy Center:
    7:30 am-4 pm


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  • Advance Office
    & Endoscopy Center

    Monday-Friday
    Office: 8 am-4 pm
    Endoscopy Center:
    7 am-4 pm

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  • Kernersville Office &
    Endoscopy Center

    Monday-Friday
    Office: 8 am-4:45 pm
    Endoscopy Center:
    7:30 am-4 pm

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  • Thomasville Office &
    Endoscopy Center

    Monday-Friday
    Office: 8 am-4 pm
    Endoscopy Center:
    7:30 am-4 pm


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  • King Office & Endoscopy Center

    Monday-Friday
    Office: 7:30 am-4 pm
    Endoscopy Center:
    7:30 am-4 pm


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