BWH expands access to treatments for rectal cancer

Bluewater Health now offers a potentially life-saving treatment option for early-stage colorectal cancer.

The hospital has invested in specialized equipment to enable patients with early-stage rectal cancer or large pre-cancerous rectal polyps to undergo transanal minimally invasive surgery (TAMIS) locally without traveling to London or other major centres.

Dr Jeremy Springer, general practice and colorectal surgeon, said the procedure could go a long way in improving survival rates.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in Canada.

He said it was a unique cancer because most cases started as precancerous polyps, or abnormal growths in the cell lining of the colon. He points out that not all polyps are cancerous, which is why getting checked is so important.

“When you catch these early with a colonoscopy, they can be removed,” Dr. Springer said. “So, you can actually prevent the cancer from developing. If you catch them early with colonoscopy, you can treat them early. When you treat colorectal cancer early, it has a very high survival rate, more than 90% of patients It can be cured.”

The TAMIS platform allows patients to return to normal activities within one to two days after surgery and is relatively painless, he said.

Colorectal cancer affects people of all ages, Dr. Springer said, but they have noticed an increase in cases among people in their 30s and 40s.

“Colorectal screening is very important,” he said. “If you have any unusual symptoms, such as changes in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, or weight loss, tell your healthcare provider. Let them know so you can get a colonoscopy. It could ultimately save your life. “

Other symptoms include persistent abdominal pain, unexplained constipation or diarrhea, weakness and fatigue, and anemia from iron deficiency.

People who smoke, are overweight, eat a lot of red meat and alcohol, or have inflammatory bowel disease are at higher risk.

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