Debunking breast cancer myths

Women are constantly bombarded on what they can do to prevent breast cancer. However, there is no definitive known way to prevent the disease. One in eight women in the United States will develop some form of breast cancer.

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to several medical experts to address a few common breast cancer myths.

Myth: Mammograms cause breast cancer

Fact: Annual screenings are the key to finding breast cancer early. A mammogram is currently the best screening tool for finding breast cancer. It uses extremely low levels of radiation to create detailed images of the breast.

Mammogram
These mammograms show a normal breast (left) and a breast with cancer (right, white arrows). Image via Wikipedia.

On average, the total dose for a typical mammogram is about 0.4 mSv. People are normally exposed to an average of about 3 mSv of radiation each year from their natural surroundings. The dose of radiation from a mammogram is about the same amount of radiation averaged from natural surroundings over about 7 weeks.

The Mammography Quality Standards Act was created by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and passed by Congress to mandate rigorous guidelines for x-ray safety during mammography. The MQSA guidelines assure that mammography systems are safe and use the lowest dose of radiation possible. Patients should make sure they are being imaged at an ACR-accredited facility.

Dr. Correna Terrell, medical director of the breast imaging center at Houston Methodist West Hospital, recommends that women with an average risk of breast cancer begin annual mammograms at age 40. If you have additional risk factors, your physician may recommend mammograms beginning at an earlier age.

Myth: Sugar feeds cancer

Fact: Sugar does not spread cancer. However, if you have too much sugar in your diet, specifically simple sugars found in baked goods, this can cause weight gain. Weight gain overtime can lead to obesity and obesity has been linked to an increase risk of several cancers.

“Our bodies do need simple sugar, for energy,” says Renee Stubbins, registered dietician at the Houston Methodist Cancer Center. “The average American consumes over 130 pounds of sugar per year, or an extra 500 calories per day. The key to any healthy balanced diet is moderation,” Stubbins said.

80% of lumps are caused by non-cancerous changes in the breast Click To Tweet

Natural occurring sugars like those found in fruit, vegetables and whole grain are all needed to help maintain muscle and weight during cancer treatment and have been shown to help fight cancer. Avoiding processed sugars that are found in cakes, baked goods and desserts and sticking with fruits and vegetables helps maintain a healthy weight and prevents health issues in the future.

Myth: All breast lumps are cancerous

Fact: In general, 80 percent of lumps are caused by non-cancerous changes in the breast. This percentage tends to fluctuate with age. As a woman ages, her risk of breast cancer increases. While the percentage of benign breast lumps in older women may be much lower than in younger women, it is still important for women to report breast abnormality to their physician. Only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer. If you discover a persistent lump in your breast or notice any changes in breast tissue, it should never be ignored.

Join us Saturday, May 2, 2015 at the Rice University Tudor Fieldhouse for a morning to kick-start a healthier lifestyle. Special guest, Ilona Carson of ABC-13, will be emceeing. Registrants will get the opportunity to learn healthy tips from primary care physicians, OB-GYN’s, breast care and health experts. The morning will also include a yoga session, menu ideas and giveaways.

CLICK HERE to register.

Dr. Gene Alford: A Story of Resilience

id you know 60 to 70 percent of surgeons play music in the operating roomDr. Gene Alford, better known as Dr. Gene, is no different. Tucked away in the neurosensory building at Houston Methodist Hospital, the songs of Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Pharrel Williams can be heard from Dr. Gene’s operating room. 


His love for playing music in the operating room came from a surgeon he was training under during his residency in Philadelphia. He also learned each type of surgery has its own genre.

“If I am doing a procedure to remove a form of cancer, I play rock and roll as it needs to be more aggressive. Whereas if I am performing a more delicate procedure I will play a classical number.”

Music really helps to set the tone for the surgery. An operating room can be stressful, but by playing music, he and his team are able to relax and focus on the patient.

At the end of every surgery, he always turns on his “closing music” which consists of dance, disco or funk music. The stress of surgery is over and the entire team can relax and enjoy the success.

What does a surgeon’s playlist look like? Everything from @BrunoMars to #TheEagles. Click To Tweet

So, what does a surgeon’s playlist look like? I asked, and he gave me his top 10 artists:

“Every surgery is different,” said Dr. Gene. “I pause, collect my thoughts and focus on the patient. Once my mind is right, the banter begins and music blasts through the speakers.”

New year, new resolutions

he holiday parties have ended, decorations are coming down and the Thanksgiving-to-New Year’s food fest has come to a screeching halt. The start of 2015 is here and with that means an opportunity for many to start fresh. 

Most of us make New Year’s resolutions but can’t seem to make them stick. In fact, according to Forbes, 90 percent of Americans make a New Year’s resolution every year and only 8 percent follow through. 90% of Americans make a New Year’s resolution but only 8% follow through Click To Tweet

I asked several of my colleagues at Houston Methodist Hospital what their New Year’s resolutions were. Here’s what they said.

  • I want to beat last year’s FitBit total. – Dr. Marc Boom, president and CEO of Houston Methodist

2015blog

  • Take advantage of the bike trail in my neighborhood and use it at least 30 times in 2015. – Dr. Angel Rodriguez, breast medical oncologist
  • Run at least 1,000 miles this year. – Dr. Mauro Ferrari, president and CEO of Houston Methodist Research Institute 
  • Take all my allotted vacation days and advance the field of telementoring in the OR. – Dr. Brian Dunkin, endoscopic surgeon and medical director of MITIE
  • Have less “electronic” time and more family time with my fiancé, Lisa and my two dogs, Cinny and Toti. – Dr. Joshua Harris, orthopedic surgeon
  • Strengthen my spirituality, strive to be a better person and participate in triathlons, injury-free so I can competitively participate in 2016. – Dr. Gavin Britz, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at Houston Methodist Hospital
  • I would like to spend more time brainstorming with my postdocs, reviewing their data, troubleshooting protocols and critiquing their scientific communications. I also intend to learn a dozen new BBQ recipes.– Dr. John Cooke, director of the center for cardiovascular regeneration and chair, department of cardiovascular sciences

Don’t forget to check back with us next year to see who kept up their resolutions throughout 2015.

Gingerbread house brings joy to all

he holiday season is officially in full gear. For many families, decorating a gingerbread house is an annual holiday event and at Houston Methodist Hospital we are no exception. What started as an idea back in 2006, has now become the norm for patients, their families and employees to enjoy during the month of December.

Gerardo Rosas, pastry chef at Houston Methodist Hospital, teamed up with other members in the hospital to create a life-size gingerbread house that would be put on display in our hospital lobby. His vision starts becoming a reality in September and takes about three months to complete. Gerardo sketches his design and works closely with the carpentry department to create a plywood frame that holds the cookie house together.

Some of the key ingredients used to complete his masterpiece:

  • 200 pounds of powdered sugar
  • 4 gallons of egg whites
  • 1 pound cream of tartar
  • 8 ounces of almond flavor
  • 80 pounds of candy
  • 45 sheet pans of gingerbread. 

Once the frame is complete, Rosas goes to work rolling out 45 sheet pans of the gingerbread and starts designing the house. He takes the gingerbread and turns it into the logs and stone to create a cabin like feel.

Our gingerbread house contains over 200 pounds of sugar and 4 gallons of egg whites Click To Tweet

After he lays the gingerbread on the framework he begins icing and decorating the house using 80 pounds of candy. Each year his design and vision are different from the last. The roof is made of 50 pounds of cake icing. To ice and decorate the entire house it takes about two weeks.

The Monday after Thanksgiving Rosas and his team begins to assemble. The house is wired with electric lights, some of which can been seen through the gelatin windows. The carpentry department builds a picket fence, installs the lit Christmas trees and wrap the fake presents.

“I do this for the patients,” said Rosas. “The holidays are a time to be merry and bright and I want them to feel at home. A gingerbread house feels like home to me.” 

The gingerbread house process

Planning the gingerbread house:

Planning the gingerbread house

Cutting the gingerbread:

Cutting the gingerbread

Making the house:

Building the house

Decorating begins:

Decoration begins

The front of the gingerbread house finished:

The front of the house is complete

The completed gingerbread house:

The completed gingerbread house December 2014

The completed gingerbread house December 2014

10 things to know about lung cancer screenings

oughly 70 percent of lung cancer results from smoking; the other 30 percent has no identifiable cause. At Houston Methodist, the lung cancer screening program helps individuals who are at high risk for lung cancer receive a diagnosis and treatment plan at an early stage, when the disease is easier to treat and possibly cure.

I sat down with Dr. Reggie Munden, chair of the radiology department at Houston Methodist Hospital, and discussed 10 things people should know about the importance of lung cancer screenings.

1. Lung cancer screenings with computed tomography (CT) works and saves lives.

2. Screening benefits 55-74 year old current and former heavy smokers. For instance, one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years. 

3. A positive finding does not mean you have cancer, it means there are findings that could be cancerous and further testing will be needed.

4. The CT examination may detect significant diseases other than lung cancer.

5.  It is important to be screened at a facility with lung cancer screening experts.

70% of lung cancer results from smoking; the other 30% has no identifiable cause Click To Tweet

6. During the screening, the patient will undergo a low-dose, single-breath-hold CT scan of your lungs. The entire examination takes only a few seconds. Afterward, the radiologist reviews the images and issues a report of the findings. 

7. Findings on lung cancer CTs can range from no disease to findings very concerning for cancer. Based on previously published studies, more than 95 percent of the initially suspicious nodules identified within the lung are diagnosed as non-cancerous. 

8. The diagnosis of cancer is not made from the screening CT, but determined after further work up and usually requires a biopsy to confirm. 

9. The biggest determinants for lung cancer are age and long term-smoking. While some lung cancers are not related to cigarette smoking, there is no benefit to screening non-smokers for lung cancer. In fact, it is possible that screening people other than smokers could be more harmful than not screening. 

10. As of November 2014, lung cancer screening is covered by some insurance plans. Medicare announced plans to begin coverage for lung cancer screening for participants 65 years or older.

Our program provides a full service, multidisciplinary approach to lung cancer screening. This is important because screening CTs detect many significant diseases other than lung cancer and our center will be able to manage the whole patient. To get more info about lung cancer screenings at Houston Methodist, call 713.441.5864.

4 things you probably didn’t know about breast cancer

or Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we reached out to Houston Methodist Hospital doctors and staff to answer four questions surrounding breast cancer.

 

1. What is triple negative breast cancer?
Dr. Angel Rodriguez
, breast medical oncologist and director of the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Clinic 

There are approximately 42,000 new cases of triple negative breast cancer diagnosed in the United States each year; about 20 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses. Triple negative breast cancer is distinguished from other cancers in that it does not express the genes for estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and HER2 negative. Meaning, your pathology report would come back saying you were negative for ER- (estrogen receptors), PR- (progesterone receptors), and HER2- (HER2). Testing negative for all three of these hormones means the cancer is triple-negative and will not respond to hormonal therapy or HER2 directed therapies, such as Herceptin.

Triple negative breast cancer makes up 20% of all breast cancer diagnoses Click To Tweet

Triple negative breast cancer is treatable, but it has the highest rate of recurrence. We are taking what we know in the lab to provide patients with better options with less toxicity to treat this aggressive disease.

2. What is the BRCA gene and who is at risk?
Kate Dempsey, genetics counselor in the Houston Methodist Cancer Center

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are just two of the 25,000 genes in our bodies. Each gene has a specific job, ranging from telling us what our eye color should be to how we should grow. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two genes that are responsible for protecting us from cancer. They help stop tumors from growing and developing. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are found in every cell in our body, but work mainly in breast and ovary tissue. They serve as one of the “spellchecks” for our genetic information. As our cells grow, divide, and age, there can be changes to the genetic information in that cell. BRCA1 and BRCA2 work with a number of other genes to catch these changes, and signal for their repair.

A mutation can cause BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes to no longer function properly. When this happens, any changed genetic information is not repaired as it should be, which can lead to a cancer.

Only 5-10 percent of breast cancer is hereditary. Of all of hereditary breast cancer, approximately 70 percent is caused by mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2. Approximately 1/300-1/500 individuals carry a mutation in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

5-10% of breast cancer is hereditary and 70% of hereditary cases are caused by BRCA mutations Click To Tweet

Individuals with a personal or family history of the one or more of the following may be at risk to have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation:

  • Breast cancer diagnosed at or under the age of 50
  • Multiple breast cancers in one or both breasts
  • Triple negative breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Breast cancer at any age with one or more relative with breast or ovarian cancer
  • Male breast cancer
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry (1 in 40 individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry carry a mutation in either BRCA1 or BRCA2)

We encourage you to speak to a high-risk breast cancer physician or a genetic counselor about your family history. They will help you determine if genetic testing is right for you or your family, as well as help you develop a personalized cancer screening recommendations.

3. What are some tips when going through chemotherapy?
Jennifer Berry, registered nurse and director of infusion services in the Houston Methodist Cancer Center

  • Stay active and maintain your normal routine and schedule
  • Wear a button down or loose fitting shirt to your infusion appointment to allow easy access to your port
  • Having your labs done the day before chemotherapy will help decrease the wait time the day of your infusion
  • Schedule downtime for yourself
  • Be sure to drink lots of fluids
  • Reward yourself for milestones by doing something special to celebrate
  • Give your body at least six months before you start feeling back to normal

4. When is radiation therapy beneficial for women with breast cancer?
Dr. Bin Teh
, radiation oncologist at Houston Methodist Hospital

Radiation therapy shrinks the tumor and kills cancer cells. Radiation to the breast is often given after breast-conserving surgery to help lower the chance that cancer will come back in the breast or nearby lymph nodes. It may also be recommended after mastectomy in patients either with a cancer larger than 5 cm, or when cancer is found in the lymph nodes.  It is also used to treat breast cancer that has spread to other areas, for example to the bones or brain.

Have no fear, the navigator is here!

hen Debbie Drury was 12 years old, she remembers her grandmother pulling her aside and saying those dreadful words, “I have cancer.” At that very moment, Debbie learned that cancer was not something to fear but something to work around.

When she graduated from nursing school, there was an open position in a cancer unit. Immediately, Debbie knew that was the place for her. She envisioned herself working with her grandmother and so many fighters just like her. While working on the inpatient floor, Debbie discovered she had a way of breaking down emotional barriers for patients and was able to help them cope.

“What I found is that 99 percent of the time, a patient’s negative attitude toward their treatment or staff is really not the patient being difficult,” Debbie said. “It is the frustration of dealing with a situation they do not fully understand, anger at the diagnosis, and most importantly, fear.”

Most of the time, a patient's negative attitude toward others is tied to frustration, anger and fear Click To Tweet

She knew helping people with cancer was her calling, and wanted to be their rock and support throughout their difficult journey. Being a patient navigator at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital was the best way to fulfill that desire.

Debbie answered some questions to shine a light on this services we offer at all Houston Methodist locations.

What is a patient navigator?

A patient navigator is someone who helps newly diagnosed patients overcome barriers after hearing the devastating news. For many patients, navigating through this journey can be overwhelming. We want to be viewed as stress relievers for our patients, sort of like a one stop shop to answer their questions. 

What does a typical day look like for a navigator?

No two days are ever the same. I answer patient phone calls to help with their questions, help with scheduling issues, visit patients who are in the hospital receiving treatment and assist patients with outside resources like wig shops, mastectomy garments and support groups. I tell my patients if they have a question, just ask the navigator. I strive to make their experience as smooth as possible. If my patients can adjust their lives to beating cancer, I can adjust my day to meet their needs.

What role do you play when breast cancer has been diagnosed?

Breast cancer is unique because it is messing with the most visible sign to the world that you are a woman. Patients are often apprehensive when trying to make good decisions regarding their treatment plan because they don’t understand why this is happening to them. These women benefit from a lot of conversations reiterating the why’s, what’s and how’s of treatment choices. Shortly after the patient receives her diagnosis is when the patient and navigator talk the most. Education is our best tool. We walk them through our services and ways we can help them overcome obstacles. Each patient will work with their oncologists on a specific treatment plan, but the patient navigator will assist with getting appointment times, phone numbers and how to get your test results to the appropriate doctor. I work with the breast cancer staff, imaging department, surgery, infusion, physician offices, financial counseling, social services, support group volunteers or anyone who touches the lives of our patient.

What do you like most about your job?

I find joy in being the stress reliever. I love helping people overcome the issues that are getting in the way of their treatment plans. There are times when I can hear stress in a person’s voice at the beginning of a phone call and a calming tone by the end. Empowering my patients is what gets me up in the morning and excited to get to work. It is extremely rewarding to feel like you had a small part in making this situation a little easier.

How is the nurse navigator program at Houston Methodist different from other programs?

Our program is different than others because the navigator role is the very definition of our I CARE values. We embrace the whole person and strive to not only treat the disease but help serve a person in crisis. The patient is at the center of whatever we do and because of that, the bonds we form with our patients are unbreakable.

Ann-Marie’s story: more than a leukemia survivor

hree years ago while working crazy hours and preparing for her wedding, Ann-Marie Servos was really tired, so she went to the doctor for a checkup, fully expecting to be told to get more sleep and stop stressing.

By the next morning, Ann-Marie had five missed calls from her doctor calling to say there was something critically wrong with her blood levels and to go straight to the ER.

Over the next few days, she was checked into the hospital, underwent a battery of tests and was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She did not go home again for more than 40 days.

“The key was to imagine that you are red bouncing ball, sitting on shelf high above the floor and every day, someone will knock you off that shelf and your only job is to bounce high enough to get back on,” one of her doctors explained.

Three months later, she received a peripheral stem cell transplant.

I think the point of surviving cancer is to thrive Click To Tweet

Before cancer, Ann-Marie was working in commercial real estate. After her transplant, she felt a drive to pursue a new career. She graduated from nursing school in September, 2014.

“I looked up the definition of survivor and it said, ‘to remain alive or in existence,’” she said. “But I think the point of surviving is to do more than that. It is to thrive and I now have so much more to fight for.”

Ann-Marie on her wedding day.
Ann-Marie on her wedding day.

Want to know more about acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)? Ann-Marie’s hematologist, Dr. Carlos Ramos, tells us what we need to know.

What are AML and ALL?

AML and ALL are different forms of acute leukemia, which is a very aggressive cancer of the blood. Depending on the specific type of blood cell affected, the leukemia is called AML or ALL.

How many people are diagnosed with these two cancers a year?

In the United States, there about 13,000 new cases of AML and 5,500 new cases of ALL diagnosed per year.

What are some of the symptoms?

Symptoms of leukemia
Symptoms of leukemia.

Most symptoms are caused by the disruption of normal blood and bone marrow functions. Patients can have: 

  • Low red blood cells, known as anemia. They will feel weak or fatigued.
  • Low platelet count, which can lead to bleeding.
  • Low white blood cells, which can make the patient prone to getting infections and fevers.

How do you treat these cancers?

Treatment is usually very intensive and includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy and a bone marrow transplant.

To become a donor for bone marrow/stem cell transplant, sign up for the national registry known as Be the Match or sign up by going to the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center here in Houston.

Prostate cancer: knowing your risk and treatment options

One of the important aspects of men’s health is awareness about prostate cancer, which is the second most common cancer among men in the United States. Dr. Brian Miles, urologist at Houston Methodist Hospital, says this year approximately 30,000 men will die from prostate cancer, but when detected early, it can be cured.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, so I sat down with Dr. Miles who helped answer some common prostate-related questions.

What is the prostate? 

The prostate (part of the reproductive system) is a small gland in men about the size of a walnut that rests below the bladder. The purpose of the prostate is to produce seminal fluid that provides nutrients for the sperm.

 What are some risk factors for prostate cancer?

  • Age: The risk of prostate cancer increases with age and is most common in men over the age of 50

    Diagram courtesy of CDC.gov
    Diagram courtesy of CDC.gov
  • Race: African American men have a greater risk of prostate cancer
  • Obesity
  • Family history: If prostate cancer runs in your family, you have an increased risk

 What are some of the symptoms?

Prostate cancer usually grows very slowly, often not causing signs or symptoms until it is more advanced. Symptoms may include:

  • Inability to pass urine
  • Difficulty starting or stopping the urine flow
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Blood in your urine
  • Pain in lower back, upper thighs or hips
  • Erectile dysfunction

What is the difference between prostate cancer and benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH)?

BPH can often be confused with prostate cancer. It is an enlarged prostate gland and occurs in almost all men as they get older. BPH is not cancer. However, some of the symptoms are similar to those of prostate cancer. The physician can often diagnose by doing a physical exam, conducting a urine test or a digital rectal exam.

What does an elevated PSA mean?

If you are a man over 50, your urologist should conduct the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. PSA is an enzyme produced by prostate cells. An antigen is simply a protein that can be identified for a particular organ. An elevated PSA alerts the physician or urologist to the possibility the patient may have prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States Click To Tweet

How does the urologist diagnose prostate cancer?

At Houston Methodist, we are now using enhanced technology to better and more precisely detect and diagnosis prostate cancer. The MRI ultrasound fusion decreases the number of biopsies needed to make a diagnosis, and this technology allows for a more precise treatment plan. The technology helps urologists see areas that are highly suspicious for cancer within the prostate by merging the MRI image onto the existing ultrasound image.

What are my treatment options?

For men diagnosed very early, treatment may not immediately necessary, instead active surveillance or regular follow ups may be recommended. Other treatment options include:

  • Radiation therapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy

Our physician-researchers lead more than two dozen prostate cancer clinical trials at Houston Methodist Cancer Center

Understanding inflammatory bowel disease

What do Amy Brenneman, an actress in “Greys Anatomy,” Cynthia McFadden, ABC News correspondent, and Shannon Doherty, TV favorite from “Beverly Hills, 90210,” all have in common? All three of these women and million others struggle daily with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Often referred to as the “bathroom disease”, IBD affects more than 1.4 million people in the United States. With no cure and many unknowns, Dr. Bincy Abraham, gastroenterologist at Houston Methodist Hospital, helps others to better understand the disease.

“Most patients who suffer from this disease can be helped by getting early access to care and early introduction of treatment to prevent long-term consequences,” Abraham said. “It is a disease that may be difficult to talk about. However, getting help as soon as symptoms start is better than having the disease get out of control.”

What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

IBD is a group of conditions that causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, which plays a key role in the digestion process. IBD is a chronic, recurring condition and primarily includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

This CT scan shows Crohn's disease in a patient's stomach. Image source: Samir (Wikipedia)
This CT scan shows the location of Crohn’s disease in a patient’s stomach. Image source: Samir (Wikipedia)

What causes it?  

There is an increased risk of developing IBD if a family member has been diagnosed with it. However, most cases are sporadic. We know it is not fully genetic because even with identical twins, there is only a 40 percent chance the other will have the disease.

Too many antibiotics during youth could destroy good gut bacteria and increase a person’s risk. Also, according to the hygiene hypothesis, a lack of early childhood exposure to germs and infectious agents could suppress the natural development of the immune system.

Diet may also play a role in causing IBD. Research has shown that individuals that consume more red meat and fats, and have a low intake of fiber, fruits and vegetables may have a higher risk of being diagnosed with IBD.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease affects 1.4 million Americans Click To Tweet

What should you look for?  

IBD can cause symptoms that range from mild to severe. They can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody stools
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue

It is important to note that not everyone who has IBD suffers from these symptoms. These signs are also not specific to IBD either; people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can also suffer from abdominal pain, diarrhea and nausea. However, the more alarming symptoms, such as bloody stools, weight loss and anemia, are signs a patient should get evaluated soon.

How to treat it?

If untreated, inflammation can damage the GI tract, making it harder to manage. There are many different medications for IBD, but deciding which one is best depends on multiple factors, such as:

  • Severity of the disease
  • Severity of symptoms
  • Age at diagnosis
  • Location of the disease

Another important aspect of managing and treating the disease is diet. Most sufferers are deficient in nutrients, so it is important to have a balanced diet. In those that have severe inflammation or Crohn’s disease with a stricture, they will need to follow a low fiber diet. There is also emerging evidence that vitamin D helps not only with bone health, but also helps regulate the immune system.

If medications or maintaining a better diet still does not help, surgery could be another option. However, this is best discussed with the gastroenterologist and a colorectal surgeon, as surgery may not always provide a cure, especially in Crohn’s disease.

To learn more about IBD, visit The Lynda K. and David M. Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders or call 713.441.9770.