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Lifesaving Advice from a Gastroenterologist

Posted in: Education

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every three adults over the age of 50 fail to get their recommended colonoscopy.

That reality deeply troubles Michelle Anderson, MD, an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Michigan and a gastroenterologist at Metro Health – University of Michigan Health. She works hard to share the message that a colonoscopy may be a day’s inconvenience, but it may save your life.

“There’s really no other screening test that doctors do where the screening test itself prevents the cancer,” Dr. Anderson said. “Colonoscopy procedures remove polyps that may turn into cancer, thus preventing the disease itself. Nothing else we do does that.”

More Experts, Better Care, New Treatments

Metro Health patients have access to critical care and treatments if an irregular polyp or tumor is found during a colonoscopy because the hospital’s affiliation with Michigan Medicine provides a broad range of specialties and experts.

“We now have specialists in pancreatic cancer and bile duct cancer who use advanced endoscopic procedures like EUS,” Dr. Anderson said.

Most often, an endoscopic ultrasound, or EUS, uses a flexible endoscope to stage cancer. When placed inside a patient, the scope provides incredibly detailed pictures of irregularities such as tumors.

Inside the probe is a transducer that sends out a sound wave. If the wave hits an irregularity, it shoots back to a receiver on the probe. The sound wave travels up the scope and displays an image on a monitor in front of the physician. An EUS procedure is performed much like a colonoscopy where the patient prepares days in advance and is sedated during the test.

Dr. Anderson explains, “We try our best to make the patients comfortable; we want them to have a good experience because they’re already dealing with something that’s so stressful and anxiety producing.”

Innovative Gastrointestinal Care

EUS technology is not widely available across the country yet, so patients had to travel quite a distance to have the procedure done – until Metro Health began offering it.

EUS procedures are revolutionizing gastrointestinal care and are making a huge impact, specifically in colon cancer cases. Until now, CT and MRI procedures were used to stage cancer.

EUS technology, however, allows doctors to see into the most superficial layers of the colon lining to better determine how deep a tumor is embedded and what treatment method is needed.

“There are colon cancers below the surface that we might think are there, but until now couldn’t be seen by the eye. At Metro Health, we can find those cancers,” said Dr. Anderson. “We’re able to tell patients almost immediately the results of the EUS and what their stage is. We give them information about what is happening now – and should happen next.”

The Power of Affiliation

Dr. Anderson concludes, incredible expertise and advanced technology are two benefits of Metro Health’s affiliation with the University of Michigan.

“The affiliation between the University of Michigan and Metro Health has been overwhelmingly positive for both institutions,” Dr. Anderson concludes. “I think there is a work ethic and a spirit here at Metro that is second to none. The people I work with love their jobs. They love taking care of patients, and it’s really inspiring.”