Inflammatory Bowel Disease or ‘IBD’ can be difficult enough to live with, but many sufferers also worry they may have an increased risk of bowel cancer.

Some of the symptoms of bowel cancer are the same as those experienced with Crohn’s and Colitis. However, could IBD also increase your risk of developing this type of cancer? Below, you will discover everything you need to know about the link between the two conditions.

Are IBD patients more likely to get bowel cancer?

Studies have shown that those with IBD, do have an increased risk of developing bowel cancer than those who don’t. However, most recent studies have also shown that there are fewer IBD patients who are developing the cancer now, compared to previously.

You will be most at risk of developing bowel cancer if you have colitis in all or most of your colon. The risk is the same for those with Crohn’s in most of the large colon.

So, why does it increase your risk? It is the inflammation of the colon which causes concern. When inflammation occurs, it can lead to a higher turnover of cells within the intestinal lining. This in turn increases the risk of irregularities which could develop into cancer.

What is IBD?

IBD is a term used for two long-term conditions. These are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. With ulcerative colitis, it tends to only impact the large intestine colon area. However, with Crohn’s disease it can affect all of the digestive system.

It isn’t known what causes IBD, but family history, smoking, and immune system problems can increase your risk. You can also develop IBD at any age, though it tends to largely occur during the teenage years.

IBD Symptoms and treatment

The main symptoms of IBD include cramping and pain of the abdomen, chronic diarrhoea, fatigue, weight loss and swelling of the abdomen. You may also experience some nausea and vomiting. The symptoms may come and go, and they can also vary greatly in severity.

There currently isn’t a cure for IBD, but there are some great treatments available. In mild cases of ulcerative colitis, treatment may not be required at all. Some patients may also only need treatment when the condition flares up. It isn’t uncommon to go through long periods of remission where you experience no symptoms at all.

However, if you suffer from Crohn’s disease, surgery is more than likely going to be required at some stage. This is because over time, it causes damage to the intestines. There are different types of surgery that can be carried out. It will depend upon the severity of the damage caused to the bowel.

Overall, you will be at an increased risk of developing bowel cancer if you have IBD. However, you will be given more frequent screenings to ensure it is picked up early if it does develop.

You can talk through your concerns with Mr Woodward during an initial consultation. He will be able to assess your situation and reveal whether or not surgery would be a good option.

Noticing blood in your stools can understandably be alarming. However, it could have one of several causes. The most common conditions associated with bloody stools are haemorrhoids and bowel cancer.

The question is, how can you tell which condition is causing blood to appear in your stools? Below, we will look at the symptoms haemorrhoids and bowel cancer produce that you should watch out for.

Rectal bleeding caused by haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids are known to cause rectal bleeding and they are a common health condition. They are commonly referred to as piles, and most of the time they aren’t anything to be too concerned about.

Haemorrhoids are classified by degrees, ranging from first to fourth. These relate to how much it is protruding from the anus. First degree haemorrhoids don’t protrude from the anus at all, whereas fourth degree haemorrhoids protrude and cannot be pushed back into place.

All degrees can cause some level of rectal bleeding. However, even though it is a common symptom, it is still important to get it checked out. Other symptoms that come with haemorrhoids include an itchy anus, slimy mucus from the anus and lumps or pain around the anus.

Bleeding caused by bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is one of the more serious conditions rectal bleeding can link to. It is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, affecting over 42,000 people each year. It is essential that it is caught as early as possible to ensure effective treatment.

Rectal bleeding is just one symptom to watch out for when looking for bowel cancer. Other symptoms include a persistent change in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss and persistent pain or discomfort in the abdomen.

If blood in your stools is accompanied by any of these symptoms, you should seek medical advice straight away.

Treatment options for haemorrhoids

If the cause of your bleeding is diagnosed as haemorrhoids, the good news is there are lots of great treatments available. Most will resolve by themselves within a couple of days, but you can use several methods to speed up recovery.

Small lifestyle changes can help to both clear up haemorrhoids and prevent them from recurring. Switching to a high-fibre diet will help to keep your stools softer for example. This in turn will make them much easier to pass.

You will also find staying active helps. This contributes towards weight management and it prevents constipation.

In some cases, you may need to undergo surgery to remove them. There are several surgical methods available and Mr Alan Woodward specialises in the Rafaello technique. He is the only surgeon in Wales to offer this effective technique, which is a very safe and successful new treatment.

Most of the time, blood in your stools isn’t anything to worry about. However, you should always seek medical advice to rule out anything serious. If it is linked to haemorrhoids, there are many treatment options available. Book a consultation at the Alan Woodward Surgical Group to find out more.

IBD can occur at any age and half of all sufferers are females between the ages of 15 and 40. Many are looking to become pregnant but are unsure if there are risks, or they worry how their pregnancy might be impacted by the condition.

While Inflammatory Bowel Disease conditions can be debilitating, can they impact pregnancy? Here, you will discover everything you need to know.

Can IBD cause issues with fertility?

According to research, both men and women who have IBD but haven’t had surgery, have the same fertility chances as everyone else. However, there are some instances when you may have reduced fertility.

If you have undergone surgery for ulcerative colitis, or if you have active Crohn’s disease, your fertility may be lower. If you are experiencing fertility issues due to IBD, the good news is there are treatments out there which can help.

The medications prescribed to treat these conditions mostly don’t impact fertility at all. There are some exceptions here however. For example, methotrexate and sulphasalazine are considered best avoided for those who are trying to get pregnant.

How might the conditions impact pregnancy?

If you do become pregnant, you will most likely have a normal pregnancy. However, research has shown that Crohn’s disease and colitis can increase the risk of premature birth and miscarriage.

The state of the condition and how active it is will depend upon the effects it has during pregnancy. You can discuss the risks with your healthcare practitioner or an IBD specialist. You will be given frequent checks throughout the pregnancy to ensure everything is progressing as it should.

The importance of keeping IBD under control during pregnancy

When you discover you are pregnant, it is important to try and get your IBD under control. When the disease is inactive or in remission, you will be in generally good health. However, if the disease is active, it means you will keep experiencing regular flare ups and troublesome symptoms.

Studies have shown that those who have colitis or Crohn’s disease but are in remission, are unlikely to experience issues throughout the pregnancy. If the conditions are in control when you get pregnant, it is much more likely to remain inactive throughout.

Will pregnancy worsen IBD?

If your IBD is mildly active when you become pregnant, the pregnancy is unlikely to make it worse. However, it does mean that the disease will be more likely to remain active throughout the pregnancy.

As of yet, there isn’t enough research to determine whether pregnancy worsens IBD. In fact, from the research carried out there is some evidence to suggest it may have a positive effect.

There are lots of ways to manage IBD during pregnancy. It is a good idea to talk to your IBD team to discuss the options available. Always follow the advice of professionals to ensure your pregnancy runs as smoothly as possible.

Gallstones can cause significant pain and discomfort. While some people may experience no symptoms at all, for others it can become almost unbearable. Formed within the gallbladder, there are some things patients can do to relieve the pain of gallstones.

Here, we will look at some of the best ways to relieve the pain from gallbladder attacks and why seeking medical help is important.

Understanding the pain caused by gallbladder attacks

The purpose of the gallbladder is to store and break down bile. This substance is produced by the liver and required to digest fat from the diet. When you eat, the gallbladder will release bile to help digest it. However, in some cases the bile can build-up and start to form hard, pebble-style stones. In many cases, gallstones don’t produce any symptoms. However, around 20% of sufferers experience pain.

The trouble comes when the gallstones start to block bile from being released. As it backs up into the gallbladder, it can cause inflammation and swelling. This in turn causes pain, known as cholecystitis.

With this type of pain, you’ll notice it typically affects the upper right side of the abdomen. You may also experience pain around the shoulders and back and it will often worsen as you take a deep breath. The pain may come on suddenly, or it may remain a constant dull ache for hours at a time.

What are the best ways to relieve pain?

Living with the pain caused by gallstones can be difficult. However, the good news is there are lots of things you can try to ease the pain.
Avoiding certain foods can help such as greasy and spicy foods. By taking care of what you eat, your gallbladder will get a much-needed rest.

There are also a few home remedies some patients swear by. These include apple cider vinegar, milk thistle and castor oil. However, these don’t have much in the way of scientific evidence to back up that they work.

Antibiotics are essential for treating gallbladder infection which is known as cholecystitis.

Surgery is another option. As the gallbladder isn’t needed to stay alive, it may be removed in a procedure known as a cholecystectomy. The gallbladder (and/or gallstones) are removed by laparoscopic surgery which means only small incisions are made in the abdomen.

Why should you seek medical help?

Although gallstones which are not causing symptoms can be ignored, as soon as they cause symptoms, it is advisable to seek advice to prevent problems including infection, jaundice, pancreatitis and perforation of the gallbladder.

If you are suffering with gallbladder attacks, seeking treatment can help to eliminate the pain and discomfort. Book a consultation with the Alan Woodward Surgical Group today to discover which form of treatment would be right for you.

A recent study has found a new way to treat IBD. Scientists have discovered an immune cell type which can start to repair the gut lining after it has become inflamed. These new findings provide hope for patients suffering with these often-debilitating conditions.

Here, you will learn more about IBD and what this new study means for potential new treatments.

What is IBD and what causes it?

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), relates to two types of inflammatory diseases – Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both conditions can cause a lot of pain and discomfort, though there are treatments available to help.

The exact cause of IBD isn’t known. However, there are some theories as to why it may develop. Some experts suggest that IBD conditions are caused by a malfunction in the immune system. This means when the body is fighting off a bacterium or virus, the immune system will also attack the cells within the digestive tract.

There is also evidence to suggest it can be hereditary. Those who do suffer with IBD tend to have family members with the conditions too. Risk factors of developing IBD include age, smoking and certain medications.

Understanding the new study

Up until recently, the molecular mechanism which causes molecules to start repairing inflammatory damage, has been unknown. However, the new study carried out by researchers in the Republic of Korea, has revealed the process.

The researchers looked at the intestines of patients with IBD to investigate macrophages. When the patients experienced a flare up, the scientists discovered that there were low levels of a particular type of macrophage within the gut. Interestingly, when the patients went into remission, the same type of macrophage showed increased levels.

This shows that controlling the level of this type of macrophage in patients with IBD could be key to treating the conditions. However, further research is now required to help understand the factors that switch the macrophages into repair mode.

What current treatments are available?

While this new study is promising, it doesn’t help those who are suffering with IBD right now. The good news is, there are some effective treatments already available. Simple lifestyle changes, medications and surgery, can all be used to treat the symptoms of the conditions.

In order to control the symptoms of IBD, lifestyle changes can play an important role. For example, there are some foods which can trigger the symptoms of IBD. These include dairy products, alongside high-fibre and highly seasoned foods. You can also aim to keep stress to a minimum and take supplements to counteract any potential nutrient deficiencies.

If the conditions cause significant problems for the patient, surgery may also be an option. You can talk through your options with Mr Woodward during an initial consultation. He will be able to assess your situation and reveal whether or not surgery would be a good option.

After undergoing hernia repair surgery, the body needs time to rest and heal. Whether you undergo open surgery or a laparoscopic hernia repair, it is important to focus on your recovery if you want to experience best results.

During your recovery, there are gentle exercises you can do to strengthen your abdominal muscles. Here, you’ll learn everything you need to know about strengthening your muscles after surgery.

Understanding the different hernia repair surgery methods

The surgery repair method used will determine what type of recovery you can expect. With open surgery, an incision will be made within the groin. The hernia is then identified, and it will be pushed back into the abdomen before the abdominal wall is strengthened with mesh or stitches. You will typically need to wait for 4-6 weeks before you can return to strenuous exercise.

With laparoscopic surgery, a small incision will be made at the belly button. A laparoscope which is connected to a small camera, will then be inserted. A harmless gas will be used to inflate the abdomen, giving the surgeon space to clearly see your internal structure. The inner lining of the abdomen will be cut to reveal the weakness in the wall. Mesh is placed on the inner wall to cover up the weakness and strengthen the tissues. Unlike open surgery, the recovery period here will be days, rather than weeks.

Can hernia type impact recovery?

The type of hernia you are repairing can impact recovery time. For example, incisional hernias can take longer to repair, which would increase the time you need to wait before you can return to normal activities.

You can discuss how long the recovery is likely to take, based upon the type of hernia you have, with the surgeon. They will provide full aftercare advice, letting you know when you can return to normal activities.

Whichever type of hernia you have, and which surgery method is used to repair it, you will be advised to avoid strenuous activities for up to six weeks.

Gentle exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles after surgery

If you want to speed up your recovery, there are some gentle exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles. Before trying any of the exercises mentioned, it is important to discuss them with the surgeon. They will be able to tell you whether the exercises are safe.

The sit-to-stand exercise is a good one to get started with. Simply sit down on the edge of a chair, activating the core muscles. Then, lean forwards so your torso is over your legs, keeping the weight onto the feet. Extend your legs to stand up fully. You can repeat this simple exercise several times throughout the day.

Pelvic floor exercises, seated knee extensions and forward lunges are also good exercises to try. Remember, start off slowly and don’t push yourself. Listen to your body, and your surgeon, in order to build up your abdominal muscle strength safely.

Hernia surgery is a common and straightforward procedure. However, like any operation you will need to take some time to recover. A common question that patients have, is when they will be able to return to sport.

Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about returning to sport after a hernia op.

The danger of returning too early

As desperate as patients may be to get back to sport, going back too early can cause a number of issues.

Derby County footballer, Jack Marriott, has recently revealed his frustration at being off the pitch following a hernia op. The striker has had a turbulent season, causing him to be on and off the pitch due to injury. Speaking out about how not playing was affecting him, he stated it was hard missing games, especially with the pressure of social media.

Players do get frustrated and worry they will be let go if they spend too long with an injury. The trouble is, going back too soon will cause further injury. It could even lead to an additional procedure needing to be carried out. It is extremely important patients recover fully before they return to sport.

How long should you wait before returning to sport?

The exact time you should wait before returning to sport will vary between patients. Sometimes it takes weeks, other times it takes months for a full recovery from a hernia op.

The general guidance is that patients can return to sports within four to six weeks. Several studies have been carried out on athletes to determine the best time to return. One study involving tennis players, revealed five weeks was the ideal time to take off the court. NHL players on the other hand, were recommended to avoid returning for six to eight weeks.

It all depends upon the type of sport you play, the type of surgery carried out and your individual recovery. Your surgeon will give you a better idea of how long you’ll need to take off before you undergo the procedure.

Tips for a successful recovery

If you want to return to sport quickly, it’s crucial you follow your surgeon’s aftercare advice. The more you focus on your recovery, the better.

Initially, you’ll feel a little pain for a few days. This can be treated with rest and over-the-counter pain medication. Try to stay active during the day, taking gentle walks to maintain good circulation.

Be sure to take care of the incision site too. Again, the surgeon will advise you on how to take care of the site for adequate healing. Following the surgeon’s aftercare advice is the best way to return to sport quickly. However, you need to understand that it may take months before you are fully recovered.

If you are concerned about when you will be able to return to sport after a hernia op, or if you have any other questions about the procedure, book a consultation at the Alan Woodward Surgical Group today.

Colitis is an uncomfortable and often painful condition, which describes inflammation of the colon. It can be caused by inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis), but there are other triggers including infection, a virus and allergic reactions. The condition can be difficult for sufferers to live with.

The good news is there are ways of managing colitis, and diet is one of them. Here, we will look at the best diet for colitis sufferers.

How can diet help to control colitis?

During the digestive process, the colon absorbs excess fluids. However, colitis interferes with this process, meaning some excess fluids are left over. This can result in diarrhoea, alongside other unpleasant side effects. Your diet can help to ease the symptoms of diarrhoea and other colitis symptoms.

Unlike those with Crohn’s disease, colitis sufferers don’t need to worry too much about malnutrition. This is because the condition doesn’t affect the digestion of your food within the small intestine. However, it is still important to eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals. So, what type of foods should you be eating if you suffer with colitis?

Monitor your fibre consumption

Fibre is typically recommended to treat a number of conditions. However, in colitis too much fibre can actually cause the condition to worsen. If your diet is too high in fibre, you may start to get more cramping and contractions.

It is recommended a low-fibre diet is followed. This means sufferers should limit their wholegrain and raw fruits and vegetable intake. There aren’t any specific daily intake recommendations to follow. Instead, patients should experiment with their daily fibre levels until they find what works for them.

Keep hydrated

When you have a bowel disease, staying hydrated becomes increasingly important. This is because frequent diarrhoea is common, leading to fluid loss. If you don’t drink enough water, it can affect the kidney function and lead to a feeling of weakness. So, make sure you are staying hydrated and replenishing any fluid lost through bouts of diarrhoea.

Things to consider

As well as sticking to a low-fibre diet and staying hydrated, there are a few other things to consider. Limiting the foods which cause you gas is also a good step to take. This includes things like sugary drinks and limiting your alcohol intake.

Research has shown that probiotic rich yoghurts can be great for digestive health. Consuming a probiotic each day could help to keep unpleasant side effects under control. To help ease inflammation, you can also increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. This is found in foods such as oily fish, walnuts and flaxseeds.

There is also evidence to suggest that limiting, or cutting out dairy products, can help ease the symptoms of colitis. Try switching to non-dairy equivalents for reduced gas and bloating.

Overall, diet can play a large role in the treatment of colitis. While it won’t eliminate the condition, the right diet will help to make the symptoms more bearable and improve the sufferer’s quality of life.

If you think you may have symptoms of colitis, contact Alan Woodward for a consultation.

Most adults suffer with a colorectal condition at some point in their lives. While mostly harmless, sometimes the symptoms may be a sign of something more serious.

Studies have shown that bowel cancers are becoming more frequent in patients under the age of 50. Here, we will look at the rise in bowel cancer in younger patients. You will also discover some of the most important things to know about colorectal cancer.

Young Brits now more at risk of bowel cancer

A new study, published within the Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology journal, has revealed bowel cancers are on the rise in the under 50’s. Researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, looked at colon cancer rates from 2004-2014 in developed countries.

The findings revealed that colon cancer in younger patients increased by 1.8%, while rectal cancer increased by 1.4% each year. It also showed that people born now, are at a higher risk of developing these cancers than older generations. There has been a particular increase in the number of patients aged 30-39, while there has been a 1.7% decrease in rectal cancer rates in the over 75s.

It is now estimated that one in 20 people will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer develops in the rectum or the colon. Both rectal and colon cancers are grouped together due to how similar they are to one another.

The majority of colorectal cancers develop within the lining of the rectum or colon. A polyp starts to grow, and over time this can turn into cancer. However, it is important to note that not all polyps will turn cancerous.

If cancer does develop, over time it can spread to the colon or rectal wall. It begins in the innermost layer of the wall, spreading throughout the other layers as it progresses. Once the cancer cells are within the wall, they can also spread into the blood vessels or lymph nodes.

What are the symptoms?

There are a number of symptoms to watch out for with colorectal cancers. These include:

  • A frequent change in bowel habits
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Blood in your stools
  • Persistent abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Unexplained weight loss

During the early stages of cancer, it is common for patients to experience no symptoms at all. When they do present, their severity will depend upon a number of factors such as the size of the cancer and where it is located.

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is essential you see your doctor for a check-up. Like all cancers, it is important to detect colorectal cancers as early as possible. The earlier treatment is started, the more successful it is likely to be.

At the moment, patients are invited to colorectal cancer screenings when they turn 60 years of age. This new study highlights how problematic this might be given the rise in cases in younger patients.

If you have symptoms or if you need more information, book an appointment at the Alan Woodward Surgical Group to help put your mind at ease by calling 03000 204 734.

Hernias are common, affecting one in ten people at some point in their life. Each year, there are over 100,000 hernia surgeries carried out in the UK. While often harmless, groin hernias do not heal by themselves, and they can lead to serious complications. For this reason, treatment is advised.

The only hernia treatment available for adult patients is surgery. With the ongoing pandemic, thousands of hernia patients have been waiting months for treatment. This is putting them at serious risk of complications. Going private is a good option for those who are struggling to get the treatment they need.

Here, we’ll look at which operation is best for a groin hernia and why treatment is advisable.

The open surgery technique

Open surgery for a hernia is carried out under local or general anaesthetic. An incision is made near the hernia site. From there, the surgeon will push the hernia into the abdomen.

Stitches are sometimes used to repair the hernia, though most commonly a synthetic mesh (a hernioplasty) will be placed over the hernial defect. This helps to reinforce the area, allowing the tissue to grow through the mesh without placing pressure onto the surrounding tissues.

The laparoscopic technique

Laparoscopic surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic. The surgeon will make several incisions, through which a tiny camera and instruments can be inserted. They can carry out the hernia repair in a less invasive manner using this technique.

Again, a mesh is used to strengthen the abdominal wall and promote better wound healing. Laparoscopic repair usually means less discomfort and a quicker return to normal activities.

Which type of surgery is right for me?

The type of hernia surgery you need will depend upon a number of factors. The size of the hernia and its location will ultimately decide which style of surgery would work better for you.

The surgeon will talk through your options during the consultation. They will explain the risks and complications of both types of procedure. This allows you to make the most informed decision about which one is most suited to you.

Why seeking hernia treatment is important

Hernias may not seem like a serious problem, especially if you aren’t suffering with any uncomfortable symptoms. However, they are known to worsen over time. As they progress, they can cause significant discomfort.

It is worth pointing out that not all hernias need surgery. The trouble is, taking a ‘wait and see’ approach can be risky. It is best to book a consultation, so that your surgeon can assess your current risks and discuss with you whether surgery is the best approach.

There are also different types of hernias you should be aware of. The type you have will determine the type of treatment required. If you are experiencing symptoms of a groin hernia and you are struggling to get an appointment, book a consultation with Mr Alan Woodward today.

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