Tag Archives: diagnosis

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

National Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month

National Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month

It’s National Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month. Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a rare disease that affects the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, slowly robbing them of the ability to walk, eat, and breathe.

SMA and Nerve Damage

 

SMA is caused by a mutation in a gene that produces a protein critical to our nerves. Nerve cells can’t function without it.

SMA Gene Mutation

 

SMA is also the number one genetic cause of death in infants. About 1 in every 50 Americans could pass it on to their children.

Genetic SMA Carriers

 

There are 4 types of SMA based on the age when symptoms begin and the highest physical milestone the victim reaches. Type 1 in infants is often fatal, while type 4 in adults is very rare and only leads to mild motor impairment.

Types of SMA

 

SMA is usually diagnosed through genetic testing, newborn screenings, or through prenatal testing.

Prenatal SMA Testing

 

In 2016, the first FDA-approved treatment for SMA was approved. After an SMA diagnosis, it is key to work through the coming decisions with your family’s team of doctors.

Treating SMA

 

Those with SMA still develop mentally despite their physical barriers, so finding more forms of treatment and prevention are key to the future of the disease and those who suffer from it.

 

Understand AIDS

Understand AIDS

In honor of World AIDS day this month, we want to help raise awareness about HIV and help you understand AIDS.

HIV is an infection transmitted between people by bodily fluids like blood. People can have flu-like symptoms 2 to 4 weeks after becoming infected.

Lifecycle of HIV

 

HIV multiplies in your system, and without HIV treatment, it usually advances to AIDS in 10 years or longer, when the immune system is severely damaged.

AIDS Progression

 

Women with HIV can give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth, but your doctor can help you prevent this with medicine, C-sections, and formula.

Preventing Transmission to Your Baby

 

If you’re HIV positive, make sure you know how to prevent transmission to protect your loved ones and partners.

Protecting Your Loved Ones from HIV

 

Talk to your doctor, get tested regularly, and know how to prevent HIV infection and protect yourself now.

Protecting Yourself from AIDS

 

If you’ve just been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, what can you expect? Know what tests and treatments come next.

What's Next After an HIV Diagnosis?

 

Understand how your care team, including case managers, can help you manage HIV/AIDS, and learn more about living with HIV/AIDS.

Your HIV/AIDS Care Team

Signs of Dyslexia

Dyslexia Awareness Month

October is also Dyslexia Awareness Month. Dyslexia is a neurological condition, which causes a difference in how people understand and process language.

Dyslexia Awareness Month

 

Since there’s no cure, a dyslexia diagnosis can feel overwhelming. While it makes reading more difficult, almost all people with dyslexia can learn to read.

Learning to Read

 

Dyslexia does not affect intelligence. Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Stephen Spielberg, and many more have excelled despite having dyslexia.

Intelligence and Dyslexia

 

Dyslexia runs in families, so if you have dyslexia, you should keep an eye out for signs of it in your children.

Dyslexia and Your Kids

 

Your child might have dyslexia if they have trouble learning their sounds or letters, or to speak, read, and write.

Getting special instruction that breaks down language structure can help your student cope with dyslexia.

Help Learning with Dyslexia

 

You have a right to get help or special considerations when taking certain tests, applying for colleges, or applying for jobs.

Your Rights with Dyslexia

Taking Time to Relax

Vantage Point: It’s Time to Relax

Relaxation is the state of being free from tension and anxiety. When I think of relaxation, I imagine myself having no to-do list, sitting back, and watching my son play. Now that I’m raising a family, I understand the importance of taking time to just relax.

On the weekends, I tend to clean my house top to bottom. I get so focused on these tasks that by the time I’m done with my chores, I realize it’s already 5 o’clock on Saturday evening. I get so upset with myself because I spent a whole day cleaning instead of taking a stroll in the park, going on a hike with my family, or just sitting in the backyard and enjoying the nice summer weather.

Then, I rush to get myself together to go do something “fun” before night falls. This defeats the whole purpose of relaxing because I’m so tired by the end of the day, I don’t even get to enjoy the activities with my family.

I now more than ever see why it’s so important to take time to relax. Time and time again, I hear about all of the benefits of relaxation, like lowering blood pressure, increasing blood flow to major muscles, improving sleep quality, and much more. I need to be the best version of me so I can be around and have a good time with my family.

This summer, I am trying something new. I’m giving myself small tasks to do at home every day after work, so when the weekend comes around, my workload isn’t so big. I’m also giving myself a set time frame to clean each Saturday morning. When I’m all done, it’s usually time for my son to take a midday nap, which gives me some dedicated “me time.” When he wakes up, I’m relaxed and ready to have some family fun.

So far, I’m really enjoying my new approach to handling my time. Sometimes, relaxing is much harder than setting up a new plan. There are a lot of reasons you might need a new plan too, like a diagnosis that requires you to try a different approach.

When that happens, our case managers are here to help you make your new plan work in lots of way. They can provide motivation, tools, and lifestyle skills to help minimize your risk of complications and share resources that are available in your community.

So get started finding a plan that works for you, and don’t forget to take some time to relax this summer.

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in 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.
Testicular Cancer Awareness Month

Testicular Cancer Awareness Month

It’s Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, which is the leading cancer in men ages 15 to 44.

Raising Cancer Awareness

 

1 out of 270 men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer. It can develop fast and double in size in just 10 to 30 days.

When detected early, it has a survival rate of over 95%. Regular self-exams are the best way to find it early.

Self-Exams to Prevent Testicular Cancer

 

Testicular cancer can elevate your hormones, causing tenderness in your chest. Learn other signs.

Chest Soreness and Other Symptoms

 

Back pain and significant weight loss are some of the signs and symptoms of advanced testicular cancer. See your doctor quickly.

Symptoms of Advanced Testicular Cancer

 

If you’re diagnosed with testicular cancer, there are questions you should ask to find out what comes next.

The Right Questions to Ask Your Doctor

 

Treatment for testicular cancer is much like other cancers. It can include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Testicular Cancer and Treatment

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