The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released new guidelines on the detection of Colorectal cancer. Currently, unlike the UK, the age patients start colorectal cancer screening is 50 in the States. However, the new guidelines advise lowering the age limit to 45.

Like any serious illness, the earlier it is detected, the better the chances are of beating Colorectal cancer. However, it isn’t the only condition that you need to watch out for.

Colorectal disease relates to several potentially serious conditions. Here, we’ll look at why early screening is important when Colorectal disease is suspected, alongside the current treatment options available.

What is Colorectal disease?

Colorectal diseases affect the large intestine. They include a vast range of conditions including:

  • Chronic constipation or diarrhoea
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Colon Polyps
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Colon cancer

These are just a small number of Colorectal diseases and conditions you can develop. While some are certainly more serious than others, early detection is important for all Colorectal diseases. In Colon cancer cases, early detection could make the difference between life and death.

The earlier Colon cancer is detected, the sooner treatment can start. Catching any form of cancer early greatly improves prognosis. The question is, what symptoms should you be looking out for?

Symptoms to watch out for

If you want to detect Colon cancer early, there are a few notable symptoms to keep a lookout for.

Bleeding from the bottom is one of the most common signs of colon cancer. However, it can also link to other, less serious conditions. If the blood is dark red or black, it means it has come from the stomach or bowels. If it is a lighter red, it typically indicates piles or haemorrhoids. Any sign of bleeding from the bottom should be investigated, if only to rule out Colon cancer.

If you experience any change within your bowel habits which last longer than 3 weeks, it could also be a sign of cancer. You may experience chronic diarrhoea or constipation. If a change in toilet habits is also accompanied by blood in the stools, you should seek a diagnosis from the doctor.

Other symptoms to watch out for include feeling constantly tired, unexplained weight loss, and the development of a painful hard lump.

Diagnosis and treatment options

To diagnose a Colorectal condition, surgeons at the Alan Woodward Surgical Group will use a range of tests. A colonoscopy is one of the most effective ways to diagnose a condition. It uses a small camera to investigate the rectum and colon internally. Alternatively, a CT Colonography may be carried out instead.

If Colorectal disease is detected, several treatment options may be offered. An Endoscopic Mucosal Resection or bowel resection are the most common treatments available. These help to remove cancerous tissue, alongside any diseased parts of the bowel and colon.

If you suspect you may have Colorectal disease, it is important to seek early diagnosis. Book an appointment at the Alan Woodward Surgical Group to help put your mind at ease by calling 03000 204 734.

If you are experiencing pain within your abdomen, there is a chance it could be linked to a gallbladder issue. The most common cause of gallbladder pain is gallstones, though it can also point to several other underlying issues.

Pain is a common symptom that could link to all kinds of health issues. Below, you will discover everything you need to know about gallbladder pain and its varying causes.

What is gallbladder pain?

Pain is typically felt within the upper right part of the abdomen. In some cases, it may spread to the shoulder blade or upper back. The gallbladder is located just underneath the liver, responsible for signalling the release of bile when eating. When pain is experienced by the gallbladder, it is a sure sign that something is wrong.

You may also experience other symptoms which can help identify the problem. These include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tenderness in the abdomen
  • Confusion
  • Brown-coloured urine
  • Light coloured stools

These are just some of the symptoms you may experience. But the question is, what causes it?

Conditions linked to gallbladder pain

Gallstones are a common cause of pain. They mostly develop when there is an excess of cholesterol. The additional cholesterol hardens, forming stones. They can vary greatly in size and can lead to persistent pain within the abdomen.

Gallstones aren’t the only condition that could link to pain in the gallbladder. It could also be an indicator of cholecystitis, or gallbladder inflammation. This can be triggered by several conditions such as serious illness, infections, tumours, or issues with the bile duct. If the pain is down to inflammation, you will usually experience symptoms more after eating. It is important to treat this condition as it can lead to potentially life-threatening complications.

Other conditions which can mimic gallbladder pain include:

  • Appendicitis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Heart attack
  • Ulcers
  • Gastroenteritis

Some of these conditions are more serious than others. Moreover, it is important to get your symptoms checked by your doctor.

What are the best ways to alleviate the pain?

If your pain is caused by gallstones, a heated compress may help to alleviate the pain. Avoiding greasy, fatty foods will also help to ease the pain. Also, maintaining a healthy weight is key to preventing gallstones from occurring.

In some cases, the gallbladder may need to be removed entirely. However, prescription medications tend to be the first treatment option offered to patients. Antibiotics are effective at helping to treat gallbladder infections for example.

If you are experiencing gallbladder pain, your doctor will be able to assess your symptoms to determine the cause. If you are diagnosed with gallstones, book a consultation with Mr Alan Woodward to discuss which treatment option is right for you.

After a hernia surgery, rehabilitation is key to your recovery. However, did you know there are things you can do before the procedure to reduce the risks?

Prehabilitation can help to prepare the body for surgery, aiding in overall recovery. Although hernia surgery tends to be minimally invasive, it isn’t without its risks and complications.

Here, we will explore why prehabilitation is important if you want to aid recovery after undergoing hernia surgery.

What is hernia surgery?

Hernia surgery is an effective way to eliminate large, problematic hernias. Most hernias will require surgery to remove them. There are several ways the procedure can be carried out including an open or a keyhole approach.

During keyhole surgery the surgeon will make a small incision through which a small camera and specialised tools will be used to carry out the repair. The bulge will be pushed back into place before mesh is used to secure and strengthen the area.

Understanding the risks and complications

There are some risks and complications that can lead to a poor recovery after a hernia repair. The most common risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Lack of core muscle strength
  • Diabetes

Obesity and smoking are particularly known to increase the risk of a poor recovery. The good news is most of these risk factors can be reduced with a good prehabilitation program.

How can prehabilitation help?

Prehabilitation refers to getting the body in peak condition prior to undergoing surgery. The healthier you are when you go under the knife, the less likely you will be to experience potential risks and complications.

So, what does it involve? This will ultimately vary from patient to patient. Surgeons can set up a customised prehabilitation program for any patient that will benefit. This could include dietary changes, cutting down on alcohol, quitting smoking, and increasing physical activity.

Surgeons who do have prehabilitation programs in place have seen a drastic reduction in side effects after a hernia repair. This includes a reduced risk of infection and reoccurrence.

However, you don’t have to rely on a surgical prehabilitation program alone. Making healthier lifestyle choices will ultimately help to reduce the risks involved.

How long does it take to recover from hernia surgery?

Recovery from a hernia repair will typically take between three and six weeks. You should ideally wait a couple of weeks before getting back to your usual daily routine.

After the procedure, you will likely experience some level of pain, redness, and swelling. You can take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory and pain medications to ease these symptoms. It is also worth noting that the type of hernia repair you undergo will also impact recovery.

Your surgeon will provide full aftercare instructions to help ease discomfort and aid in recovery.

If you are looking to reduce the risks of hernia repair surgery, consider prehabilitation. Book a consultation with Mr Woodward today to plan for your hernia repair with an effective prehabilitation program.

Hernias are a common, painful lumps which can develop at any age. However, they do tend to be most common in older adults and pregnant women. Developing a hernia during or after pregnancy isn’t that common, but it can happen.

So, what exactly are hernias, why do they occur after pregnancy, and can you prevent them?

Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about hernias after pregnancy, including treatment options.

What are hernias and why do they occur in pregnancy?

Hernias are lumps that develop due to a weakness within the surrounding tissue wall or muscle. Tissue, fat, or the intestines can protrude through the weakened wall, presenting as a small lump.

There are different types of hernia that can occur, and some are more common during and after pregnancy than others. The good news is, most of the time hernias aren’t harmful to your health. However, they do require treatment to eliminate them completely.

Understanding the different types of hernia

The most common types of hernia that can occur during or after pregnancy include:

  • Ventral hernias
  • Umbilical hernias
  • Inguinal hernias

Ventral hernias tend to develop in the midline, in the centre of the stomach. They mostly occur on past surgical sites, so you may be more at risk if you underwent a C-Section.

Umbilical hernias develop around the belly button, and they are most common in babies. However, you may develop one yourself during pregnancy. The majority do tend to close on their own, though treatment may be required.

Inguinal hernias occur in the lower abdomen, and they are the most common type of hernias in adults. In pregnancy, they are caused by pressure placed onto the groin area.

Is it possible to prevent hernias after pregnancy?

It isn’t always possible to prevent a hernia after pregnancy. However, there are some things you can do to minimise the risk.

Ensuring you give your body plenty of time to heal after giving birth is a good preventative measure. However, with a new baby to care for this is often easier said than done! Don’t be afraid to enlist help from others while you recover, particularly if you have undergone a C-Section procedure.

Avoid lifting heavy objects and vigorous exercise until you have fully recovered. If you experience constipation after giving birth, switch to a high-fibre diet and consider using natural stool softeners. This will help to prevent a hernia developing due to excess pressure.

Treatment options available

Initially, you may be told to wait a while before undergoing any form of treatment for a postpartum hernia. If the hernia is quite small, there is a chance it could heal by itself as the muscles become stronger.

If the hernia does not go away, or if it is quite large, a hernia repair procedure may be required. Most hernia repairs are minimally invasive, using mesh to strengthen the area. There is a risk that a hernia reappears, though most hernia repairs are successful.

If you have a hernia after pregnancy that isn’t going away by itself, book a consultation with Mr Woodward today.

If you are scheduled to undergo an inguinal hernia repair, you may be wondering if it is better to use local or general anaesthetic. Both have pros and cons, but ultimately Mr Woodward will determine which is right for you.

Here, we will look at whether a local anaesthetic could be the best option. You will also learn more about the inguinal hernia repair process.

What is an inguinal hernia repair?

Inguinal hernias are the most common types of hernia which most patients develop. Appearing as a lump or swelling within the groin, they can cause pain and discomfort. An inguinal hernia repair aims to eliminate the hernia through surgery.

The goal of the surgery is to push the bulge back into its correct position. The weakened abdominal wall will then be strengthened to prevent a future hernia. However, there is a risk it could return later on.

There are two different surgical methods that can be used including open and laparoscopic procedures. The type of anaesthetic used will depend upon the method being carried out.

Which type of anaesthetic is typically used?

Both local and general anaesthetic may be used in an Inguinal hernia repair. Local anaesthesia keeps you awake during the procedure, whereas general anaesthetic puts you to sleep.

There are advantages and disadvantages of both, but with local anaesthetic the recovery is typically quicker.

A recent study revealed local anaesthetic was the best choice for the procedure due to its cost effectiveness, reduced pain after the procedure, and quicker recovery. It looked at the safety of using local anaesthetic in emergency inguinal hernia repairs.

The results of the study showed that local anaesthetic was just as safe in emergency procedures, especially when the possibility of bowel resection is limited.

Which type of anaesthetic is right for you?

The type of anaesthetic used in an inguinal hernia repair will greatly depend on a few factors. Mr Woodward will discuss with you your different treatment options during the consultation, when you can also talk about any concerns and ask questions.

It is important to note that both local and general anaesthetics are safe to use. There may be some benefits of opting for local anaesthetic in certain types of repairs, but Mr Woodward can advise which type would be most suited to your hernia repair.

Book a consultation with Mr Woodward to discuss your hernia repair anaesthetic options.

A new study carried out by the University of Queensland has revealed an interesting link between depression and gut health. Specifically, they found those suffering with depression had an increased risk of Peptic Ulcer Disease.

While stress has long been blamed for the development of stomach ulcers, it seems depression could also be a culprit. Here, we will look at what the study found and what Peptic Ulcer Disease is.

What did the study find?

The study, published within the Nature Communications Channel, aimed to discover why some people are more likely to develop ulcers than others. The team analysed health data taken from the UK Biobank of 456,327 patients. They successfully identified eight genetic variations which were associated with the risk of Peptic Ulcer Disease.

Out of the eight variations discovered, six of them could link to why certain people are at an increased risk of the H. pylori infection. This infection is known to increase the risk of Peptic Ulcer Disease. One of the factors identified as an increased risk was depression.

The researchers believe that providing patients with accurate genetic risk scores would help them to come up with an effective prevention program.

What is Peptic Ulcer Disease?

Peptic Ulcer Disease is a condition in which ulcers, or open sores, develop within the first section of the small intestine. Most of the time it is caused by a bacterial infection which eats away at the digestive system’s protective lining.

Risk factors of the disease include frequently taking pain relieving medication, a family history of ulcers, smoking, and regularly drinking alcohol. As the new study revealed, those suffering from depression are also at an increased risk.

How is it treated?

Sometimes, ulcers may heal by themselves. However, if left untreated they can lead to more severe health issues.

In most cases, medications are used to treat the ulcer. These include Proton Pump Inhibitors, Histamine Receptor Blockers, antibiotics, and protective medications. If the ulcer has started bleeding, an endoscopy procedure may need to be carried out.

The important thing is to treat the cause of the ulcer, typically the H. pylori bacterial infection or due to NSAID use. If the original cause isn’t treated, ulcers may continue to form.

It will generally take a few weeks of treatment before the ulcer fully heals. You should also avoid drinking milk. This is because while milk can help to temporarily soothe the pain, it can also cause the stomach to produce more digestive juices and acid. This in turn will make the ulcer worse.

Ulcers are mostly harmless provided they are treated quickly. However, they can cause a lot of discomfort and lead to more serious health problems. So if you are suffering with Peptic Ulcer Disease, book a consultation with Mr Woodward to determine the best course of treatment.

A swollen scrotum can be alarming, but most of the time it is a harmless, treatable problem. You may notice swelling of the entire scrotum, or small lumps on one side. Some patients find it painful, while others do not experience any pain at all.

There are a number of potential causes of a swollen scrotum. Here, we will look at the common causes and whether a hernia could be a culprit. Remember, any swelling and lumps on the scrotum should be checked over by a doctor. While most of the time it is harmless, in rare cases it could point to cancer.

What are the main causes of a swollen scrotum?

Several things can cause the scrotum to swell up. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Hydroceles and hernias
  • Cysts
  • Varicoceles
  • Injuries
  • Tumours

Hydroceles and hernias tend to be the most common causes. Hydroceles occur when fluid builds up around the testicles. It is common at birth, with approximately 10% of males born with a hydrocele. However, they can also occur later on in life, often for no apparent reason.

An inguinal hernia can develop when part of the intestine drops into the scrotum with the testes. They also occur in around 1% to 5% of males at birth, particularly premature infants. As you age, hernias can also be caused by a weakness within the groin.

Cysts are small soft lumps filled with fluid. They can vary in size, and larger cysts can place pressure on the scrotum. While they can occur due to infection or injury, in most cases the cause is unclear.

Varicoceles is a collection of swollen veins within the scrotum. They can develop in puberty, potentially slowing down the growth of one testicle. Occasionally, they can cause issues with fertility.

Sometimes, injuries can lead to swelling within the scrotum. If you experience an injury to the groin, it can cause significant swelling which should subside within a few days.

Finally, in rare cases a swollen scrotum could indicate a tumour. This is especially rare in children under the age of 15. It tends to mostly affect men aged 20-34, though testicular cancer is one of the less common types. With that being said, you should always get a swollen scrotum looked over to rule out cancer.

Symptoms to watch out for

So, now you know the causes of a swollen scrotum, what symptoms should you be looking out for?

Cysts are usually pain-free. You won’t have difficulty relieving the bowels or bladder, and they won’t become infected. With Varicoceles, you won’t typically notice any symptoms. In some cases, they can cause a little pain and discomfort.

If the cause is Hydroceles, it typically doesn’t lead to any symptoms. Some men do experience a full or heavy sensation within the scrotum, however.

With a hernia, unexplained swelling is the number one symptom. If the bulging intestine enters the scrotum, it can also cause pain. Hernias do not go away on their own and may grow in time, so surgery is recommended to treat them.

These are some of the main causes and symptoms of a swollen scrotum you should be aware of. If it is a hernia, there are some great treatment options available. So if you are experiencing pain or discomfort, book a consultation with Mr Woodward today.

The first week of June marks Bike Week, hosted by Cycling UK. Since the pandemic, cycling has significantly increased in popularity. While this is great in terms of both our health and the environment, those suffering with piles may find it exacerbates the condition.

Here, we will look at what causes piles, whether cycling makes them worse, and the various treatment options available.

What causes piles?

The exact cause of piles, or haemorrhoids, isn’t currently known. However, they develop due to swollen blood vessels.

Some of the things known to lead to the development of piles include:

  • Frequent heavy lifting
  • Straining when relieving the bowels
  • A low-fibre diet
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhoea
  • Pregnancy
  • Sitting on the toilet for prolonged periods of time

These are some of the main causes which can lead to the veins around the anus stretching and bulging. There are also known risk factors which could increase your likelihood of developing them. These include older age, obesity and pregnancy.

Could cycling make them worse?

While cycling isn’t a cause of piles, it can certainly aggravate them. That isn’t to say you can’t enjoy cycling when you have piles, it just means you may need to take measures to make it more comfortable.

Adjusting your seat is a great tip you can follow. There are different types of seats you can invest in and some will be more comfortable than others. You should also make sure the seat is in the correct position. Ideally, it should either be a little tilted, or level.

If you still experience pain when riding, consider investing in padded shorts. However, if they still cause pain or discomfort, you may want to have a short break from cycling until the piles clear up.

Your treatment options

For smaller, milder haemorrhoids there are several ways you can help to ease the symptoms, including drinking plenty of water. You will also find switching to a high-fibre diet can help to loosen the stools, making it more comfortable to go to the toilet.

If the piles don’t clear up, you may need surgical help. There are a number of surgical options, but the Rafaelo procedure tends to be one of the most effective. It is also less painful than traditional haemorrhoidectomy.

Mr Woodward specialises in the Rafaelo technique to treat grade 2 and grade 3 haemorrhoids with radio frequency ablation. This is a safe, quick and less invasive treatment option that can be performed under a local anaesthetic.

If haemorrhoids are causing a lot of pain or discomfort, during cycling or not, call 03000 204 734 to book a consultation with Mr Woodward. You can speak in confidence and discuss the best treatment options for you.

Pregnancy can be a wonderful and exciting experience. However, it can also cause a lot of unpleasant side effects. Morning sickness, varicose veins, and even Diabetes are all known side effects of pregnancy. However, one side effect that many women aren’t prepared for, is piles.

Unfortunately, piles are a common issue during pregnancy. They may be painful or uncomfortable, and they can occur both during and after the pregnancy. So, what causes piles during pregnancy and how can you treat them if they do develop?

What causes piles during pregnancy?

Piles, medically referred to as haemorrhoids, tend to occur during pregnancy because of hormonal changes. The change in hormones causes the veins to relax.

You also have an increased blood volume during pregnancy. This causes the veins to become larger, increasing the risk of piles. Another factor could be the increased pressure on the anus caused by your expanding uterus and baby.

Constipation is a common issue in pregnancy. It is also known to be a contributing factor to piles. So, when you consider these factors, it’s easy to see why piles affect up to 50% of women during pregnancy.

Potential complications and risks

Although piles are usually mild and clear up by themselves, they can lead to potential complications. The most common complication is pain and bleeding. If you notice blood coming from the piles, you should seek further investigation from a doctor.

Generally speaking, however, having piles during your pregnancy won’t harm your baby. Instead, they mostly produce pain and discomfort.

Obviously this is still unpleasant, but at least you know it won’t be harmful for you or baby. If you are concerned, you can talk through your options with a specialist.

How can piles be treated during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, haemorrhoids should be treated conservatively with laxatives and painkillers and more definitive treatment reserved until the baby has been delivered. Often haemorrhoids resolve after delivery. Mr Woodward specialises in the revolutionary Rafaelo technique and you may be suitable for this treatment.

Ideal for those with internal haemorrhoids, this treatment aims to shrink the piles.

This treatment provides fast relief from the symptoms, and it only takes around 15 minutes to complete. Local anaesthetic can be used and only mild bleeding can occur. It works via radiofrequency energy, delivered to the area via a Rafaelo probe.

Very few clinics provide this treatment and it is known to be highly effective.

Book a consultation with Mr Woodward today to see whether the Rafaelo technique could be an effective option for you.

With spring well and truly underway, you might be gearing up for that annual spring clean. While giving the home or garage a thorough seasonal clean can be great for the mind and body, it can also lead to muscle strain injuries.

Some people have even brought on a hernia doing a spring clean. So, why could cleaning the home cause or aggravate a hernia?

What causes a hernia?

Hernias develop when fatty tissue or an organ pushes through weak spots in surrounding tissue or muscle. There are different types of hernias you can develop, such as inguinal, femoral, and hiatal. Inguinal hernias are the most common, affecting the inner groin. They tend to be more common in men who are naturally weaker within this area.

There are many causes of hernias with some of the most common including:

  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Incorrect lifting of heavy objects
  • Persistent sneezing or coughing

Smoking, a poor diet, and obesity all cause the muscles to weaken, increasing the risk of developing a hernia.

All hernias are basically caused by pressure placed onto the weakened muscles and tissue. So, vigorous exercise could also contribute; particularly if you are getting back to exercise after a long period of time off.

The danger of exercising with an existing hernia

While it is possible to work out safely with a hernia, it can be potentially dangerous. Ideally, you should get the hernia repaired before you consider regular exercise. You should also be especially wary of carrying out core exercises which put a strain on the abdomen.

What are your treatment options?

If you are diagnosed with a hernia, there are several treatment options available. Surgery tends to be most effective, and there are a number of techniques the surgeon can use.

Laparoscopic techniques are minimally invasive procedures that allow the surgeon to work through small incisions. This type of procedure tends to result in a shorter recovery time, and fewer complications. However, not all patients will be suitable candidates for this type of surgery.

Another option is open surgery. This type of procedure is especially ideal for patients who have large or several hernias. Those who have had abdominal surgery previously may also need the open technique. This is because using a minimally invasive technique could prove dangerous due to the scar tissue left over from the previous surgery.

With both techniques, mesh is typically used to reinforce and secure the hernia. This helps to prevent the issue from recurring. Not all hernia repairs will require mesh, but your surgeon will let you know what your surgery will involve.

So, if you are planning on doing a spring clean, be mindful not to do it too strenuously. If you do have a hernia, it is important to get it repaired as soon as possible to prevent it from worsening. Hernias do not get better on their own.

Book a consultation and speak to Mr Alan Woodward if you have any questions about hernia surgery.

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