By Becky Carter
President and CNO, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital
I’d like to talk to the Blue Ridge Regional Hospital community about prevention of colorectal cancer and why it’s important to be screened on a regular basis. Colorectal Cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed organ cancer in the United States in both men and women and it poses a serious health risk. But the great news is, it can be caught early and cured with proper screening procedures. We see our job as not only providing care to colorectal cancer patients, but helping to prevent and cure the disease through education. Healthy habits add to the prevention of colon cancer. In addition to regular screening, eating a high fiber, low-fat diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco are known to support digestive health.
When it comes to colorectal cancer, you should never wait for signs and symptoms. As with most cancers, the earlier colon cancer is identified, the better. A proactive and preventive approach to colorectal cancer is critical, and the primary mode of surveillance is colonoscopy. Your primary care physician will help you determine when to start screening, and how often to repeat a colonoscopy or alternative screening test. Most people should have their first colonoscopy at age 50. Sometimes dreaded and often joked about, the procedure is nevertheless an amazing development in cancer prevention that provides both screening and often treatment, at the same time.
The preparation for a colonoscopy is what most people fear. It requires a patient to not eat the day before the procedure and to clean their colon with strong laxatives prescribed by your doctor. When the time comes for the procedure, you will receive light sedatives so that you don’t feel anything and the doctor will insert a small, flexible tool through the rectum to see all of the walls of the large intestine. The physician looks for abnormal-appearing tissue called polyps. If any polyps are found, the physician will usually remove them; your physician also may take a tissue sample if something looks suspicious. Removing polyps early may be lifesaving. This is why finding them through colonoscopy is so important. The good news? The average colonoscopy takes only 10-20 minutes and if no problems are found and there isn’t an unusual family history of colon cancer, one only needs to be screened every 10 years.
BRRH patients have access to the very latest in colorectal cancer screening technology. Our experienced and competent general surgeons and gastroenterologists are available to perform this important procedure. At BRRH our certified nurse anesthetists carefully medicate and monitor each patient while the procedure is performed. The combination of our highly-trained providers and state-of-the-art screening equipment means that every patient receives advanced care in a comfortable and private setting.
We pledge to continue to support the health of our community by offering education about and preventive care for colorectal and other cancers. Whether it’s cancer prevention or routine care, BRRH is ready to be your partner for all of your care.
Rebecca W. Carter, MSN, RN, FACHE is President and Chief Nursing Officer of Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine. Carter has served in senior hospital management for over 20 years and previously served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard, also a part of the Mission Health system.
Ms. Carter is board certified in healthcare management and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). A native of North Carolina, she holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ms. Carter is currently a resident of Burnsville.