When you need to see a gastroenterologist, HSHS Medical Group Multispecialty Care - St. Elizabeth's offers patient-first care. Find out more about what a gastroenterologist does below.
What are the most common conditions seen/treated in gastroenterology?
- Colorectal cancer screening
- Heartburn, reflux, ulcers
- Trouble swallowing
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in stool
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis
- Celiac disease
- Unexplained weight loss
- Liver disease, jaundice
- Weight management
Do you recommend any preventive screenings/tests for gastroenterology issues?
We recommend patients get colonoscopies and esophageal cancer screenings.
- Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer.
- It is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in women and men.
- 150,000 Americans are diagnosed each year.
- Most colorectal cancer can be prevented by having regular colonoscopies.
- About 1/3 of people do not get tested on time.
- Only 39% of colon cancer is found at the earliest stage.
- 30,000 lives could be saved each year if every American had their colonoscopy on schedule.
- Barrett’s esophagus is a change in the lining of the esophagus.
- It is a complication of chronic reflux.
- Barrett's esophagus has no symptoms (although reflux may have symptoms).
- Guidelines recommend routine biopsies if Barrett's esophagus is present in order to prevent esophageal cancer.
Who should get a colonoscopy?
- Patients should start getting colonoscopies at age 45 if at average risk.
- People with a family history of cancer or advanced polyps should start getting colonoscopies at age 40 or 10 years before the youngest case in the immediate family (whichever comes first).
- People with inherited cancer syndromes. They may be as young as 10 years old.
- Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) should have colonoscopies every 1 - 2 years after diagnosis.
- Patients with prior precancerous polyps or cancer should have screenings every 1 - 5 years (based on pathology results, number of polyps, history, prep quality).
When do you recommend someone see a gastroenterologist?
There are three good reasons to see a gastroenterologist: symptoms, maintenance of disease and prevention. Patients with symptoms such as abdominal pain, heartburn, reflux, trouble swallowing or food getting stuck, pain with eating, nausea, vomiting, early satiety, unintentional weight loss, bloating, constipation, diarrhea or blood in the stool can benefit from evaluation by a gastroenterologist. Additionally, patients with a known disease, such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome, may need a gastroenterologist to assist in management of their condition over the long term. Finally, patients in need of screening for colorectal cancer can see a gastroenterologist for colonoscopies.
What technologies do you use to help provide the best care for your patients?
A thorough history and discussion with the patient is a key tool in order to determine the correct diagnosis, and to decide which tests are most likely to find a diagnosis. Tests that are useful include dozens of possible blood and stool tests, upper endoscopy or colonoscopy with biopsies, CT scans or MRI, gastric emptying study and liver biopsy. Gastroenterologists undergo extensive training in the use of endoscopes and colonoscopes with advanced technologies built in to better diagnose disease.
Are certain people more prone to having gastroenterology issues?
Patients with a family history of gastrointestinal cancers and gastrointestinal diseases have an increased risk of having the same or related disease. African-American patients are known to have a higher risk of colorectal cancer at a younger age.
To see an HSHS Medical Group gastroenterologist, call 618-641-5803 or schedule an appointment online.