Tag Archives: education

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.

Understanding Prescription Details

Long View: Safety in the Details

Some people say I get into details too much. To some, paying attention to details is a strength. To others, it may be irritating. However, specific details make a difference, depending on the situation.

I remember an incident where a friend was going to meet me after I got off work. The friend called me to ask what time I was getting off work. I told them the time and asked them to meet me after. Well, I assumed they knew where to meet me since we had met before at the same place.

Instead, this person met me at the right time but at the wrong place. I was in front of my house. But they were in front of my workplace. The biggest issue was that at the time, I was commuting to work about 40 miles away, so I had to sit and wait until they traveled back. Time, money, and patience were wasted all due to an assumption, lack of clarification, and lack of details.

Earlier this year, I gave a presentation on health advocacy to a Parkinson’s disease support group. One of the important points was that it’s important for patients to speak up to their healthcare provider. It’s important to speak up about concerns, needs, and expectations. One of the things patients are encouraged to speak up about is their prescription medications. Some questions you should be asking your provider during an appointment included:

  1. What will the medication you’re prescribing do?
  2. How do I take it?
  3. What are the side effects?

There was a point made in the open discussion at this presentation on instructions about how often and when to take a particular prescription commonly used to treat Parkinson’s disease. An instruction on the medication label said to take it 4 times a day. Being familiar with this medication, the person knew the instructions usually said to take 4 times a day during waking hours. The person inquired about it and found that those details had been omitted by the pharmacist. But the doctor’s intent was for it to be taken during waking hours. This was an important detail for treating a Parkinson’s patient.

I’m not sure what adverse effect may have happened if the medication had not been taken during waking hours. But any risk is too much of a risk to take when it concerns taking medication and your good health. Following the directions of prescription medication labels can help you avoid the risk of having adverse reactions. It can also help you gain the full intended benefit of the drug. And it’s also important to ask clarifying, detailed questions before taking medication.

We want you to be your best and to take charge of your health. When it comes to your health and wellness, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions. There is safety in the details.

 

Sherry Gordon-Harris is a community liaison at Health Alliance. She is a wife and mother of 2 boys and enjoys traveling, collecting dolls, and hosting princess parties and princess pageants.

Handling Your Wedding Stress

Handling Your Wedding Stress

It’s National Weddings Month, and many soon-to-be spouses are planning their spring and summer weddings, so this week, we’re helping you with tips for handling your wedding stress. 40% of couples in one study found wedding planning extremely stressful, with 71% finding it more stressful than other major life events like finding a new job. The Stress of Getting Married   Why are weddings so stressful? They’re a big, expensive commitment, emotions are running high, and your relationship can be affected. It’s normal to be stressed. If you start using all your spare time on wedding planning, it’s straining your relationship, you’re questioning your decisions, or you’re procrastinating, you’re probably suffering from wedding stress. Signs You're Suffering from Wedding Stress   Prioritize your wedding planning. Decide what’s most important to you about the wedding upfront, and focus on it. Don’t let the details overwhelm you. Planning Your Wedding with Priorities   Be prepared for things you can’t control on the big day and plan accordingly. If it rains, what’s your back-up plan? Know ahead of time so you won’t feel like everything’s ruined if it changes. Prepare for Plan B   Find ways to unplug and clear your mind. Meditate and try yoga or tai chi. Find a way to put down your phone, step away, and lower your blood pressure when things get too crazy. Time to Unplug While Wedding Planning   Practice self-care. Do something restorative, like a massage, Netflix binge, or a jog. And make time to still do fun things together as a couple, like a regular date night. Self-Care During Wedding Planning
Internet Safety and Privacy

Internet Safety

In honor of Safer Internet Day earlier this month, we helped you and your family practice internet safety all week.

Make sure you’re not accidentally giving out personal information you wouldn’t want on the internet, like your phone number or address, to any individuals or companies you don’t know or have never heard of.

Never share your password with anyone. If you do have to share one, like your wifi password, use one that’s not tied to any important accounts. A secure password manager can help you if you struggle to keep track of your passwords.

Safely Managing Your Passwords

 

When creating screen names, don’t include any important personal information, like your last name or birthdate, and help your children set up any accounts they have to protect their info.

Safely Setting Up Accounts Online

 

Protecting your kids in the age of technology can be tricky. Make sure you know how to enable parental controls across devices.

Protecting Your Kids Online

 

You don’t have to be a tech wizard to practice better privacy safety online. Securing your browser, using anti-virus software, keeping programs up to date, and paying attention to settings on your accounts is an easy way to get started with digital security.

Learn to Protect Yourself Online

 

For many of us, social media is a way to share our lives with loved ones. But sharing personal details, your location, or even family photos can be risky. Adjust your social media privacy settings to protect your info.

Social Media Privacy Settings

 

Be smart shopping online. If a website looks old and outdated or if you can’t find any reviews or press coverage for their company in a quick search, don’t enter your credit card info into their site. Services like PayPal can also protect your money and info.

Online Shopping Safety

Understand Heart Disease

Understand Heart Disease

It’s American Heart Month, and in honor of it, we want to help you better understand heart disease. Heart disease includes many problems caused by a substance called plaque building up in the arteries of your heart. This makes your arteries narrow, which makes it harder for blood to get through. Clogged Arteries   A heart attack is when blood flow to part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot in your arteries. If it cuts off blood flow completely, that part of the heart starts to die. How Heart Attacks Happen   The most common type of stroke is also caused by a blood clot that blocks blood flow to the brain, which can cause brain damage. The longer those cells go without blood, the more damage it causes. Blood Clots and Stroke   Heart failure is when the heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should be, so the cells in your body aren’t getting enough oxygen. The longer heart failure is untreated, the worse it gets. What's Heart Failure?   Heart arrhythmia is when your heart beat’s rhythm is off. It can be too fast, too slow, or just irregular. Learn more about arrhythmia. Understand Heart Arrhythmia   Heart valve disease is when your heart valves aren’t working correctly, like not opening enough, not closing properly, or bulging into a different part of the heart. Learn more about heart valve disease. Heart Valve Disease   Your yearly visits with your doctor should help identify risk factors or signs of heart disease. These screenings can help them find issues or recommend preventive steps.
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 Mentoring Month

National Mentoring Month

It’s National Mentoring Month, and mentoring changes lives.

 

It’s easy to become a mentor in your community!

Become a Mentor!

 

Mentoring in your workplace is also a great way to encourage and foster young talent.

Fostering Talent in the Workplace

 

Learn more about advocating for mentoring in your community.

Advocate for Mentoring

 

Mentoring can both shape mentees and impact the community.

Impact Your Community with Mentoring

 

Mentoring is also a great way for mentors to grow and learn more about others.

Foster Personal Growth through Mentoring

 

While a majority of Americans think mentoring is important, most aren’t involved in actually making it happen. Donate or become a mentor now.

Donate to Mentoring