Tag Archives: cancer

Preventing Colorectal Cancer

Preventing Colorectal Cancer

It’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

About 1 out of 3 people are not up to date with their colorectal cancer screening, which can help identify precancerous polyps so you can get them removed before they turn into cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Symptoms

Colorectal cancer often doesn’t cause symptoms, which is why screenings are key to diagnosing cancer.

Your Colon and Cancer Symptoms

Those who do have symptoms experience:

  • Blood in stool
  • Persistent, ongoing stomach pain and cramps
  • Unexplained weight loss

Colorectal Cancer Screenings

There are a few different screenings for colorectal cancer available to you. The level of preparation needed for them, invasiveness, and frequency you’ll need them all vary.

Fecal Occult Blood Tests and Fecal Immunochemical Tests

Fecal Occult Blood Tests and Fecal Immunochemical Tests

A fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) or a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) can check for hidden blood in your stool, which can be a sign of cancer. 

These tests are noninvasive and don’t require a bowel cleanse before your appointment. They also need to be repeated each year because they don’t give your doctor a firsthand look at your colon’s health.

You simply collect your stool sample at home and mail it or bring it in to a lab for processing, and they’ll let you know your results.

FIT-DNA Tests

FIT-DNA Test

A FIT-DNA test checks for blood in the stool as well, but it also looks for DNA changes that may be a sign of cancer or precancerous polyps. 

This test is noninvasive and doesn’t require a bowel cleanse before your appointment. They also need to be repeated every 3 years, because they don’t give your doctor a firsthand look at your colon’s health.

You simply collect your stool sample at home and mail it or bring it to a lab for processing, and they’ll let you know your results.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is similar to a colonoscopy, but it only looks at part of your colon. 

This procedure may require a bowel cleansing the night before, but its prep is not as extensive as what’s required for a colonoscopy. It’s usually done in your doctor’s office or a procedure room, and it must be repeated every 5 years.

The procedure involves a thin, flexible scope being inserted into the rectum to view the lower third of the colon so your doctor can look at its condition firsthand. Pieces of tissue can also be removed and evaluated for any abnormal cell changes.

Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy provides the best view of the entire colon. 

Bowel cleansing is required the night before this procedure. It’s usually done in an outpatient surgery center, and it is usually recommended once every 10 years. If your provider is concerned though, they can recommend you have them more frequently.

A thin, flexible scope is inserted into your rectum to view your entire colon.  Pieces of tissue or polyps can also be removed and evaluated for any abnormal cell changes.

The Screening That’s Right for You

You should work with your doctor to choose the screening that’s right for you and your situation. No matter which screening you choose, most of our plans will cover 100% of the cost. If more testing or services are needed besides your normal screenings, you may be responsible for paying a copay.

To check your exact coverage, log in to Your Health Alliance to review your benefits or contact us.

Reduce Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer

Reducing Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer

A healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. What can you do?

  • Maintain a healthy weight. 
  • Eat a diet that’s high in fiber and includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Limit saturated fats and alcohol.
 

This March, talk to your doctor about scheduling your next screening.

Understand Cancer

Understand Cancer

In honor of World Cancer Day, we shared information to help you better understand cancer all week.

Cancer causes 22% of deaths in the U.S., second only to heart disease, and you have an over 30% chance of being diagnosed with cancer in your lifetime.

Your Risk of Cancer

 

Cancer can start almost anywhere in your body and is when your cells fail to grow properly. When abnormal or damaged cells survive and continue to grow, they can become tumors.

How Cancer Cells Grow

 

Malignant tumors are masses of abnormal tissue that can spread into other healthy tissues around it. As they grow, they can also break apart and travel through your body, spreading the cancer further.

How Cancer Spreads

 

Cancer is genetic, so you can inherit genetic changes that cause cancer. They also can be a result of damage to DNA from being exposed to environmental issues, like tobacco or ultraviolet rays from the sun.

Genetic Risks for Cancer

 

There are over 100 types of cancer, and they’re usually named for the tissue they’re in or by the type of cell that they’re made of. Breast, colorectal, and lung cancers are currently the most common.

Early treatment can reduce your risk of death from cancer, and screenings, like exams, lab tests, imaging procedures, and genetic tests, can help you catch it before you display symptoms.

Screenings to Catch Cancer Early

 

Common cancer treatments include surgery to remove tumors, radiation and chemotherapy to kill cancerous cells, and immunotherapy that helps your immune system fight back. Learn more about other types of treatment.

How Cancer Is Treated

Mold Awareness Month

Mold Awareness Month

It’s Mold Awareness Month, and long-term mold exposure can cause serious and life-threatening health issues, from respiratory problems to cancer.

Health Issues and Mold

 

Some common symptoms of mold exposure are skin irritation, allergy, cold, and flu-like symptoms, trouble breathing, nose bleeds, headaches, and nausea.

Symptoms of Mold Exposure

 

Check your home for mold. Look out for leaking pipes and plumbing issues that allow for too much moisture in small spaces.

Leaking Plumbing and Mold

 

Prevent future mold growth by drying out damp, small areas of your home with fans.

Prevent Future Mold

 

The longer mold is left to grow in your home and you’re exposed to it, the more likely you are to get sick from it. Clean up mold as soon as you spot it.

Cleaning Up Mold

 

While bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, small closets, and crawl spaces are the most common places for mold, also check around windows and air conditioners.

Locations Prone to Mold

 

If you discover a serious mold issue, seek help from a professional who can clean up the mold safely while protecting your family and home.

Hemochromatosis Screening Awareness Month

Hemochromatosis Screening Awareness Month

It’s Hemochromatosis Screening Awareness Month, and hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder where your body accumulates too much iron.

Patients usually don’t show serious signs until they’re over 40 years old, so it’s important to get screened in routine blood tests.

Hemochromatosis is especially common in those from European ancestry, affecting approximately 1 in 400 of them. Talk to your doctor about when you should be screened.

Blood Test Screenings

 

If you suffer from hemochromatosis, your body absorbs too much iron from your diet, as much as 4x too much, and since your body only has a few ways to get rid of iron, it accumulates over time in your liver, bones, joints, pancreas, and skin.

Getting Screened for Hemochromatosis

 

The extra iron in your system can cause organ damage, and iron deposits can darken your skin. It can also increase your risk of diabetes, heart attack, arthritis, and some cancers.

Risks of Hemochromatosis

 

The wrong level of iron in the brain has been tied to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.

Brain Disease and Hemochromatosis

 

Symptoms of hemochromatosis include chronic fatigue, joint pain, especially in your knuckles, memory fog, an irregular heartbeat, and abdominal pain.

Hemochromatosis Symptoms

 

Getting iron levels down with therapeutic blood removal, or phlebotomy, is the most common treatment. Regular blood donations and a hemochromatosis-friendly diet can help you lower iron levels.

Hemochromatosis Treatment

National Cancer Control Month

National Cancer Control Month

April is National Cancer Control Month. Prevention and screenings are the best way to fight cancer.

Are you still using tobacco? It’s a leading cause of cancer, and we can help members quit.

Quit to Avoid Cancer

 

The HPV vaccine can help prevent cervical cancer. Make sure your teens are getting vaccinated.

Protect Your Kids From Cancer This Back-to-School Season

 

Taking care of your skin now is an easy way to help prevent cancer later.

Skin Cancer Awareness Month

 

Get your mammogram now to catch breast cancer early.

Your Yearly Preventive Care and Physical

 

A screening can help you prevent colorectal cancer. Learn more about your covered preventive care.

A Cancer You Can Help Prevent with Screening

 

Get the facts about cervical cancer and learn more about protecting yourself.

Cervical Health Awareness Month 2016

 

Learn more about preventing prostate cancer and your prostate’s health.

Prostate Health Month

World Cancer Day

Covered Bridge: One Day, Awareness for All

It’s likely that we’ve all known or come across at least one individual who has touched our lives with their empowering story. What do I mean by empowering story, you ask?

I mean the story of a family member, friend, fellow co-worker, or acquaintance that leaves a chill in your bones when you listen to how hard they fought. The kind of story that leaves a lasting impression on how you view life. One that alters who you are, even just a little. And one that proves, when faced with hardship, struggles, and even death, these individuals gave it all they have. Their fight can come from something greater than any of us can imagine, a love of life so great that fighting to beat it is the only choice they have.

You see, February 4 was World Cancer Day, which is meant to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. World Cancer Day was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration. We regularly hear about different months dedicated to raising awareness about certain types of cancer, but World Cancer Day is awareness for all cancers.

Here at Reid Health Alliance Medicare, we highly encourage you to get preventive care, keep yourself healthy and educated about cancer, and have the tools to keep the ones you love in the know.

Here are a few tips to protect yourself from cancer from WorldCancerDay.org:

  • Quit smoking. Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of cancer. Quitting at any age can increase life expectancy and improve quality of life.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and make physical activity part of your everyday life. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of bowel, breast, uterine, ovarian, pancreatic, esophagus, kidney, liver, advanced prostate, and gallbladder cancers. Specific changes to your diet, like limiting red or processed meat, can also make a difference.
  • Reduce your alcohol consumption. Limiting alcohol can help decrease the risk of mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bowel, liver and breast cancer.
  • Protect your skin. Reducing exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and other sources, like tanning beds, can help reduce the risk of many skin cancers.

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Healthy Resolutions like Fitness

Vantage Point: Healthy Resolutions Without the Cost

What just happened? I blinked, and all of a sudden, it’s 2018! The holidays came and went, and now it’s time to go back to our normal routines. I’m personally excited for spring to get here. I’m over this cold.

As I go back to my routine, I think of what I’m going to do differently this year. It is very cliché, but I really do look back on my previous year and reflect on what I can improve on for 2018. We can improve in every aspect of our life: relationships, work, finances, and health.

We all try to set goals and keep them for the entire year. But sometimes we set unrealistic goals, or we just don’t try hard enough. The most common goal I hear is having a healthier lifestyle. We all have at least one unhealthy habit that we want to kick to the curb. As I get older, I realize it is not about looking good or having “rock hard” abs, it’s about being healthy and strong.

There are so many ways we can have an active lifestyle. Many people would join a gym to reach that goal, but what happens if you can’t afford a gym membership? And the older we get, the harder it is to do heavy lifting or the more dangerous it is to use a treadmill.

We are so lucky to have an organization like the Wellness Place in the Wenatchee Valley. Its mission is “[t]o improve and enhance the health and well-being of community members through programs and education; inspiring every person to live their best life now.” Their current programs include targeting and supporting cancer patients, Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL), and diabetes support services.

The SAIL program started in 2006 and focuses on balance and fitness for those 65 and older. Exercises that improve strength, balance, and fitness are the most important activities you can do to stay active and reduce your chance of falling as you age.

These classes are offered all over the greater Wenatchee area, and they’re no cost to the attendees. It is a great opportunity to kick off a healthier lifestyle for free. Learn more about the classes and when and where they take place and start your new year the right way.

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.