RANDOLPH -Gifford Medical Center general surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli is working to bring colon and rectal health issues to the forefront in a Feb. 9 talk titled “Everyone’s Got One: A Discussion on the Colon and How to Keep it Healthy.”
Dr. Ciccarelli will lead the 5:30-7:30 p.m. talk in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center, sharing the important role of the colon and common colorectal health issues.
“Everyone has these organs. Yet people are reluctant to talk about problems with their colon or their rectum. Men especially find it difficult to discuss these matters,” Dr. Ciccarelli says. “But this is one area of medicine where we can actually prevent disease, extend lives, and improve quality of life.”
The human body contains about seven feet of colon, or large intestine, which plays a vital role in helping the body complete the digestion process, retain water, and eliminate waste. Like any organ, it can be subject to disease.
Colorectal cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States and Vermont. One in 20 people will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime. And each year, about 140,000 people nationally are diagnosed with the disease and about 50,000 die from it.
Colorectal cancer develops from polyps that grow – silently, unseen, and unfelt – on the inside wall of the colon. Many polyps will never become cancer, but some will over the years.
Yet, a colonoscopy can both detect and prevent colorectal cancer. This is because during a colonoscopy, these polyps are removed in their precancerous state or before disease can be felt, preventing the onset or the spread of the disease. And when found early, colorectal cancer is highly curable.
Without colonoscopies, it is not until polyps become cancerous, grow large and block the colon, or break through the colon wall that colon cancer symptoms are evident.
Cancer, however, is just one disease that can affect the large bowel. Dr. Ciccarelli will discuss diverticulosis and its complications, along with routine anorectal topics, such as anal fissures and hemorrhoids.
“The colon and rectum can cause numerous problems that may drastically affect one’s quality of life. We want to eliminate the shame, fear, embarrassment, and misunderstanding of talking to your health care provider about colorectal health concerns,” notes Dr. Ciccarelli.
“At some point in their lives, most people experience some sort of problem with their colon or rectum. It’s not something people freely speak about,” agrees Gifford Vice President of Surgery Rebecca O’Berry. “We’re hoping community members can put aside any reservations they may have and come out to learn how they can feel better and live longer.”
The talk aims to reduce embarrassment by sharing a real patient story. After years as a surgeon, Dr. Ciccarelli also ensures he’ll infuse plenty of humor into the discussion, which includes a question and answer period at the end.
The event is free and open to the public. Register by calling Amanda at (802) 728-2238.
Gifford is located at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12 south of the village) in Randolph. The Conference Center is on the first floor of the hospital and marked by a green awning. Learn more online at www.giffordmed.org.