Colorectal Cancer: Five Things You Need To Know

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 4, 2014

Thanks to increased awareness, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping for more than 20 years.

Contributor: Dr. Jeffrey Meyerhardt is the clinical director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S., with about 134,490 new patients diagnosed in the U.S. in 2016. But thanks to increased awareness about screenings, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping for more than 20 years.

“For the most part, colorectal cancer is a curable and preventable disease,” says Dr. Jeffrey Meyerhardt, clinical director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. “It is a cancer where we have very good data that shows screening prevents disease and saves lives.”

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Pancreatic Cysts: A Cause for Worry?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 21, 2013

Most pancreatic cysts are benign, but some are much more likely to turn cancerous than others.

Today, computed tomography (CT) and other imaging tests are commonly ordered for a broad range of medical reasons. Sometimes, however, they reveal something unsuspected – an incidental finding. Among these incidental findings are pancreatic cysts, fluid-filled sacs that form in the pancreas.

Pancreatic cysts are common and many times do not cause symptoms. Most are benign, but some are much more likely to turn cancerous than others.

“We are developing ways to better analyze these cysts to decide which ones need to be removed and which ones can be monitored,” says Dr. Linda Lee, a therapeutic endoscopist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Dr. Lee specializes in endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration, a technique that is used to remove fluid from the cyst for evaluation.

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Colorectal Cancer: Screening Can Be a Lifesaver

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 26, 2013

Dr. Walter Chan and patient navigator Oscar Sanchez team up to encourage patients to get a colonoscopy.

One of the key missions of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is to remind people that a colonoscopy is an invaluable tool for helping to prevent colorectal cancer. So why doesn’t everyone get one?

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) gastroenterologist Walter Chan, MD, MPH, stresses that everyone should get screened for colorectal (colon or rectal) cancer by age 50. Thereafter, patients should get a colonoscopy every 10 years, up to age of 75. Patients over the age of 75 should ask their doctor whether they should get a colonoscopy or any other colorectal cancer screening test. People with a family history of colorectal cancer should get a colonoscopy even sooner – at age 40 or earlier – and some medical experts recommend that African-Americans start screening at age 45.

Unfortunately, many people fail to follow this advice, and the impact is significant. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in Massachusetts, but it’s believed that more than 33 percent of these cases could be prevented if everyone over the age of 50 were screened.

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This Endoscopy Comes with a Tour Guide

Posted by Blog Administrator June 6, 2012

endoscopy capsule camera

The controllable endoscopic capsule is the size of a pill.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have led the development of a tiny endoscopic capsule that is reminiscent of science fiction, yet very close to being a practical and invaluable medical tool. Propelled by tails made of copper coils and a flexible polymer, the wireless device is designed to be driven remotely and precisely while travelling through and photographing the inside of the human body. Aside from the fascination that such innovative technology attracts, the real-world implications are substantial for both the accuracy of gastrointestinal diagnoses and patient comfort.

This unique wireless capsule, equipped with a camera, is designed to be swallowed like a pill. Once the capsule enters the patient’s digestive tract, a doctor can then steer the capsule through the body by harnessing the magnetic field of an MRI machine. This control is what sets this new technology apart from traditional endoscopic capsule technology.

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