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Types of ulcers

Peptic ulcers can occur in several areas of the gastric region: the stomach, the duodenum, or small intestine; or the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.

  • Gastric and duodenal peptic ulcers can occur at the same time
  • Peptic ulcers can reoccur

Stress and spicy foods do not cause peptic ulcers, but both can make ulcer symptoms worse. Smoking and drinking alcohol also can worsen ulcers and prevent healing.


medical illustration showing diseases of the stomach | GI NorthHelicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria- Experts are not certain how H. pylori is transmitted, although they think it may be spread through contaminated food or water. Studies also suggest that having contact with the stool or vomit of an infected person or even the saliva can spread H. pylori infection. H. pylori has been found in the saliva of some infected people, which means infection can be spread through direct contact with saliva.

H. pylori still remains somewhat of a gastrointestinal mystery. Most people infected with H. pylori never develop ulcers, but some do. Doctors are still searching for the reason why some are afflicted by the virus and others are not.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs):

NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen are another common cause of peptic ulcers. When used for weeks or months, NSAIDs can irritate or damage the lining of the stomach and digestive tract, and cause an ulcer or make an existing ulcer worse. Experts believe that NSAIDs may interfere with prostaglandins, which help to regulate the protective lining of the stomach. NSAID Ulcers and their complications can be prevented by not taking NSAIDs or by only taking them occasionally and in small doses.

Typical Symptoms

1) Nausea & vomiting
Pain Description – Pain when the stomach is empty, briefly relieved by eating
Emergency Symptoms – Sharp, sudden, persistent, and severe stomach pain
Alarm Symptoms – Bleeding

2) Poor appetite with weight loss
Pain Description – Pain comes and goes for several days or weeks
Emergency Symptoms – Bloody or black stools
Alarm Symptoms – Perforation

3) Bloating or Burping
Pain Description – Pain lasts for minutes to hours
Emergency Symptoms – Bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
Alarm Symptoms – Obstruction


If you have peptic ulcer symptoms, Dr. Simon Cofrancesco or Dr. Sergio Quijano will first ask about use of over-the-counter and prescription medications to rule that out as cause for concern Then tests may be performed to check for H. pylori bacteria. These tests are important because H. pylori-induced ulcers are treated differently from ulcers caused by NSAIDs.
H. pylori can be detected using a blood test, a urea breath test, or a stool antigen test.
The Upper Endoscopy (EGD) or an upper GI Series is recommended for folks around age 50. Both tests are painless and allow doctors to look closely at the stomach and duodenum.


Peptic Ulcers caused by H. pylori are treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria, reduce stomach acid, and protect the stomach and duodenal lining. Medicines that reduce stomach acid include Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) and Histamine Receptor Blockers (H2 blockers). Both acid-reducing medicines help relieve Peptic Ulcer pain after a few weeks and promote Ulcer healing. While PPIs cannot kill H. pylori, research shows they do help fight the H. pylori infection. Research also shows that after 4 weeks of treatment, patients taking PPIs had earlier pain relief and better healing rates than those taking H2 blockers.

  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs): suppress acid production by halting the mechanism that pumps acid into the stomach.
  • Histamine Receptor Blockers (H2 blockers): work by blocking histamine, which stimulates acid secretion.

Dr. Simon Cofrancesco or Dr. Sergio Quijano will prescribe Antibiotics or other medication according to your symptoms and individual diagnosis. Although Antibiotics can cure 80 to 90% of Ulcers caused by H. pylori, eliminating the bacteria can be difficult. You must take all medicines exactly as prescribed, even when the peptic ulcer pain is gone. If infection is still present, ulcers could recur or, less commonly, stomach cancer could develop. Thus, you may need to take more than one round of medication to kill the H. pylori bacteria.

GI North is open five days a week, treating patients from all over north Georgia including Dahlonega, Ga; Dawsonville, GA; Johns Creek, GA; Alpharetta, GA; Milton, GA; Suwanee, GA; Duluth, GA; and Canton. GA. At GI North, you can expect the latest in advanced technological care and treatment as well as personalized attention from Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano. If you suffer from peptic ulcer disease, need a colonoscopy, or suffer from gastric distress, contact us at 404.446.0600 to schedule an appointment.

© 2017 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

image of pregnant woman touching her belly with handsDuring your pregnancy, you will likely find that you are experiencing more gastric issues than usual. This is a common occurrence for women, but the fact that it’s normal doesn’t make it any less embarrassing or uncomfortable.

Why Gas Problems Occur During Pregnancy

Pregnancy causes your body to go through many changes. Some of these changes occur in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract and can cause excessive flatulence and gas discomfort. So why are these issues specific to being pregnant?

During the early stages of your pregnancy, your body increases its release of progesterone, a hormone that can slow down digestion, giving gas more time to be produced. Your body’s response is to try and get rid of this excess gas by burping and farting, often up to 18 times a day.

Your uterus, of course, grows larger as your pregnancy progresses. As this happens, your intestines lose room and shift a bit to avoid being too crowded in your abdomen, slowing down digestion even further. Now your ever-larger uterus is pushing on your stomach, giving you an uncomfortable, bloated feeling, especially after eating a big meal.

Controlling embarrassing flatulence becomes especially difficult because the increase in progesterone relaxes your muscles, giving you less control over holding in your gas, as you may want to do in social situations.

What You Can Do About Gas When You’re Pregnant

Do some daily exercise to speed up your digestion and help things move along. Before beginning any exercise plan, however, first consult with your physician. You can do something as simple as taking a walk every day or take an exercise class at a gym that is safe for someone who is pregnant.

Tweak your diet a bit. Certain foods are known to trigger gas whether you’re pregnant or not. Watch out for the foods that cause you gas and try to stay away from them. Some of these foods include:

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Whole grains
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage

These foods may not make you, in particular, gassy, so track what you eat and note how certain meals affect you.

Keep in mind that carbonated drinks make you gassy, as do fatty, fried foods.

Eat smaller meals and eat them more frequently throughout the day rather than having one huge meal in the evening.

Drink a lot of water to avoid constipation, another GI-related issue with pregnancy.

When To Consult a Doctor

If you are experiencing continued gastric issues, including constipation, diarrhea, or bloody stools during pregnancy, be sure you are drinking enough water during the day and consult the physicians at GI North for an evaluation. The gastroenterologists at GI North are located in Cumming, Georgia and also serve the surrounding areas of Alpharetta, Milton, Roswell, Canton, and Suwanee.

Dr. Simon Cofrancesco and Dr. Sergio Quijano are dedicated to the care and comfort of their patients. Dr. Quijano, a native of Lima, Peru, who grew up in New York City, speaks fluent Spanish. Dr. Cofrancesco opened GI North in 2011. Call the friendly staff at GI North to set up an appointment or request more information.

© 2017 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

medical illustration showing stomach ulcers | GI NorthGastric ulcers are open sores located in your stomach. Duodenal ulcers are found in the upper section of your small intestine. Both types of ulcers can cause heartburn and stomach pain, but they can become more dangerous if they begin to bleed.

Causes of Bleeding Ulcer

A bleeding ulcer can be the result of inflammation of the stomach lining caused by H. pylori, a bacterial infection. You can also suffer from this type of ulcer if you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on a regular basis. NSAIDs can be hard on your stomach because they make it more difficult to protect that area and your small intestine from stomach acids. Other medications, such as steroids, anticoagulants, and low-dose aspirins can also increase your chances of developing ulcers. Factors that can affect the development of a bleeding ulcer include smoking, excessive drinking, excess stomach acid production, and radiation therapy.

Treatment for a Bleeding Ulcer

The underlying cause of an ulcer will determine the treatment methods for your condition. If you have untreated ulcers that have worsened over time, serious health complications can arise, such as a bleeding ulcer. A bleeding ulcer is causing an internal loss of blood that can become significant.

If H. pylori tests come back positive for that infection, your physician may prescribe a combination of antibiotics for the infection and proton pump inhibitors to lessen the amount of acids in the stomach, allowing your ulcer to heal.

An upper endoscopy procedure can be conducted to diagnose and treat a bleeding ulcer. Surgery may be necessary if a bleeding ulcer has caused a hole in the stomach lining or if the bleeding cannot be stopped with an endoscope.

Listen To Your Body

If you are concerned about bleeding in the digestive tract or have any other digestive system concerns, please call the staff at GI North, conveniently located in Cumming, Georgia, to make an appointment with one of our specialists. Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano are highly experienced gastroenterologists who specialize in diagnosing and treating digestive issues.

Dr. Cofrancesco is a board certified gastroenterologist who founded GI North in 2011. Dr. Quijano is double board certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology, and he speaks fluent Spanish. Both physicians at GI North are pleased to be able to serve the residents of Cumming in addition to the surrounding areas of Alpharetta, Roswell, Canton, and Suwanee.

The information in this article is not meant to take the place of professional medical advice. Please make an appointment with your physician or call us at GI North for more information.

© 2017 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

help with anal cancer | GI North | North Atlanta areaAs with other malignant diseases, early detection is an essential tool in treating cancers of the digestive tract. Fortunately, those portions of the digestive tract near the beginning and end can be more readily examined, making early detection for conditions such as anal cancer a real possibility. Understanding the risks for developing anal cancer can help make it clear why a visit to a gastroenterologist is a worthwhile and healthy habit.

Locating anal cancer

The anus is the final portion of the digestive tract where two ring-like sphincter muscles control the passage of solid waste from the body. Stool that has been stored in the rectum passes through the approximately 1½” anal canal before being released. As such, disorders of the anus or anal canal can cause symptoms during defecation. The anus is made of both skin and intestine, making conditions that affect both of these tissue-types relevant for the anus.

Risks for anal cancer

Risk factors increase the chance of getting cancer. Not everyone who develops cancer had specific risk factors nor does everyone with risk factors develop cancer. While this may inspire some to take chances with risk factors for cancer, a gamble on health is not a bet worth taking.

An important risk factor in the development of anal cancer is infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV). This is the same virus that causes cervical cancer in women, placing women with cancer of the cervix at an increased risk for also developing cancer of the anus. HPV can also cause cancer of the vagina, vulva, penis and throat.

Any type of skin-to-skin contact with an infected area of the body can cause HPV to spread to other parts of one’s body or to another person. Due to the body sites HPV infects, sexual and intimate contact is an important source of HPV infection. Due to the associated increased risk for HPV infection, multiple sexual partners and receptive anal intercourse are important risk factors in the development of anal cancer. The risk is also increased by cigarette smoking, being age 50 or older, anal fistulas or frequent anal redness, swelling and soreness from any cause.

Symptoms of anal cancer

Some strains of HPV cause the formation of papillomas, i.e. warts, but the strains most often associated with causing cancer are also likely to have asymptomatic infection. The potential to remain asymptomatic until an advanced stage in cancer development makes regular screening tests even more important in detecting anal cancer early.

Some important symptoms of anal cancer include anal bleeding, itching and abnormal discharge. A lump or feeling of fullness in the anal area or swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin can also indicate anal cancer. Changes in bowel movements including narrowing of the stool can be another important symptom.

Assessing your risk

While knowing and reducing your risk factors is an important step in cancer prevention, only a clinical examination and other diagnostic tests for anal cancer can confirm the presence or absence of cancerous cells.

While intended to be informational, this article does not take the place of professional medical advice. If you have questions about your risk for anal cancer or other GI concerns, please contact Dr. Simon Cofrancesco and Dr. Sergio Quijano at GI North or another healthcare professional near you for more information.

GI North is the gastroenterology clinic led by Dr. Simon Cofrancesco and Dr. Sergio Quijano located in Cumming, GA. GI North is also proud to serve the surrounding areas of Alpharetta, Roswell, Canton, and Suwanee. For appointments in Spanish, please ask for Dr. Sergio Quijano.

© 2017 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

image with icons showing causes of fatty liver disease | GI NorthA diagnosis of liver damage can come as something of a surprise, particular to those without a history of excess alcohol intake. While alcohol may be a well-known cause of liver disease, it is not the only one. Learning more about the sources of and treatments for fatty liver disease and steatohepatitis can help make facing and treating these conditions easier.

The many functions of the liver

The body’s largest internal organ, the liver sits in the upper right portion of the abdomen where it is mostly covered by the lower ribs. The functions of the liver are manifold and include vital processes related to the breakdown of toxins in the body. The liver also produces proteins needed for functions such as clotting and transport of nutrients in the blood. The production of bile to help digest fats and eliminate waste products is another important function of the liver.

Recognizing liver damage

Liver damage can include many signs and symptoms such as pain or tenderness in the right upper portion of the abdomen. Accumulation of waste products normally removed by the liver can lead to jaundice, a painless yellowing of the skin. Widespread itching can be one of the more distressing symptoms of liver damage, as it tends to be persistent and resistant to normal anti-itch therapies.

Not everyone with liver disease has apparent symptoms nor are these the earliest indicators of deteriorating liver function. Rather, blood tests to measure the level of liver-specific enzymes serve as an early and reliable measure of liver disease. Biopsy and ultrasound can also be important in determining the cause of liver function derangement.

NASH diagnosis and treatment

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a type of Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition in which fat accumulates in the liver. In NASH, the fat in the liver has led to inflammation and liver cell damage. Left untreated, NASH can cause scar tissue formation, a condition referred to as fibrosis and that can lead to cirrhosis.

It has been estimated that about 5 percent of Americas have NASH. Prior NAFLD, a condition affecting between 10 and 45 percent of Americans, is an important risk for developing NASH. Other risk factors for NASH include central obesity, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, and metabolic syndrome.

Left untreated, NASH can result in severe and even irreversible liver damage. One of the most effective treatments for NASH is weight loss. Avoidance of liver-toxic substances such as alcohol and certain medications is also important during recovery from NASH. All the while, working closely with a healthcare professional to monitor liver function and disease regression is an indispensable part of disease management in NASH.

The road to recovery from NASH

Although intended to be informational, this article does not take the place of professional medical advice. Please call an M.D. in your area with any questions, or contact our staff at GI North to make an appointment with Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano, who speaks fluent Spanish. Located in Cumming, GA; the GI North team serves the entire Atlanta metro area including Alpharetta, Roswell, Canton, and Suwanee. Set your mind at ease and find out today how GI North can get you and your liver on the road to better health.

© 2017 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

photo of young woman lying on couch holding her stomach in pain | GI NorthAt present, about 1 – 1.3 million people suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), affirms the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the cause is unknown, there is an understanding how IBD affects some subpopulations more than others. For instance, Crohn’s disease is more common in woman than men and Ulcerative Colitis is a little more common in men that women. Studies also show that IBD occurs more in Caucasian and Ashkenazic Jewish origin than other ethnicities. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that there is no precise understanding of how many people suffer from ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. This is because there is a lack of standard criteria for diagnosing IBD. Quite often, IBD is identified as another condition.

Environmental conditions also play a factor in IBD statistics. For example, IBD is more prevalent in developed countries. As well, IBD is more prevalent in urban communities compared with rural areas. Many experts claim that is may be due to a “westernization” lifestyle. As well, Crohn’s disease is found more often in smokers and ulcerative colitis is more common with ex-smokers and nonsmokers.

There have also been studies on the relationship between socioeconomic factors and IBD. Some research showed that Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) is more common in white collar occupations. Other studies revealed that ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease was less prevalent in groups with higher income and education. As well, other research found a slight connection between IBD and specific occupations.

Other factors that may be contributing to the increase of inflammatory bowl disease are perinatal and childhood infections, diet, atypical mycobacterial infections and oral contraceptives. However, these factors have not been proven to play a part in developing IBD.

Symptoms and Treatment

Inflammatory bowl disease symptoms depend on the area of the intestinal tract being affected. However, the symptoms are not always specific and can fluctuate from mild to severe. According to WebMD the symptoms of the IBD can include:

  • Fever
  • Sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Possible fatigue
  • Diminished appetite
  • Diarrhea with possible blood
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Severe need to have a bowel movement
  • Iron deficiency (anemia) from blood loss
  • Arthralgias (non-inflammatory joint pain)
  • Bloody stools – common in UC, less common in CD
  • Perianal disease (abscesses, fistulas) – Fifty percent of CD patients

If you suspect that you have either Crohn’s disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC), it is best that you seek the advice of a professional. At GI North, gastroenterologists Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano are renowned for their expertise and outstanding patient care.

Combined, the two physicians bring numerous years of experience, specializing in the diagnoses and treatment of digestive issues such as IBD. As well, Dr. Quijano speaks fluent Spanish. Also, the highly trained, friendly professional staff is committed to providing the highest quality in service and personal care.

The staff’s expertise and passion for every patient’s well-being easily creates a trusting and warm environment for everyone. Moreover, the staff is more than happy to answers any questions or concerns you may have.

For easy accessibility, GI North serves Cumming, GA as well as the surrounding areas of Alpharetta, Canton, Dawsonville, Duluth, Milton, Johns Creek, Suwanee and Roswell.

Note: This article is not meant to replace professional medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), make an appointment at GI North with Dr. Cofrancesco, Dr. Quijano, or a physician in your area.

© 2016 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

photo showing a composition of medical items including blue pills, injections, and a syringe | GI NorthHemorrhoids or piles are swollen veins in the lower part of the anus and rectum. A more severe case is when the blood vessel walls are stretched so thin that the veins become irritated and bulge especially when relieving the bowels.

Rendering to Medical News Today, a hemorrhoid can be very painful and dreadful but are preventable and effortlessly treated. Left untreated, a hemorrhoid will actually worsen over time. In fact, most physicians recommend seeking immediate care.

Medical News Today also reports there are up to 75 percent of adults in the US and Europe will have a hemorrhoid at some time in their lives. And about 50 percent of the same people are over 50 years old. Most will also need treatment. However, only about 4 percent seek medical treatment.

For the most part, a hemorrhoid is most common in adults between the ages of 45 to 65. However, young adults and children can also get a hemorrhoid. As well, they are more common in men than in woman. Moreover, pregnant woman are very likely to get hemorrhoids.


There are a wide variety of factors that can cause a hemorrhoid such as prolonged sitting or standing, hard stools (generally a lack of fiber), great strain during a bowel movement and heredity.

During pregnancy, there is a lot of excess weight and pressure on the rectum. This puts strain on the veins resulting in irritation and swelling. Also, during childbirth the veins go through a lot of strain and pressure that often causes a hemorrhoid.

Numerous Types

Basically, there are two types of hemorrhoids. If the hemorrhoid first arises from the lower part of the anal canal close to the anus, it is regarded as an external hemorrhoid. If it is inside the rectum, it is known as an internal hemorrhoid.

An external hemorrhoid is the most recognized. They also cause a lot of pain due to clotting under the skin and irritation. Internal hemorrhoids are difficult to diagnose because they are not within sight and are generally painless. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, an internal hemorrhoid may not be painful but they do tend to bleed

Hemorrhoid Symptoms

The most common hemorrhoid symptoms are pain near the rectal area, bleeding during bowel movements and itching. Sometimes that can also be blood in the stool or toilet paper. In the medical world, physicians often use a grading scale that describes the level of hemorrhoids:

1st degree – A hemorrhoid that is bleeding but is not prolapsed.
2nd degree – Hemorrhoids that are prolapsed and retracted (may or may not be bleeding).
3rd degree – The hemorrhoid has prolapsed and needs to be pushed back in.
4th degree – The hemorrhoids have prolapsed and cannot be pushed back in.


One of the best ways to prevent hemorrhoids is a healthy diet and lifestyle such as:
• Daily exercise to improve blood circulation
• Eat a diet high in fiber and plenty of water to encourage soft stools.
• Avoid extended amount of hours of sitting or standing. If work requires you to sit all day, use a doughnut pillow and move around every 20 minutes.


Sometimes severe cases require surgery, but it is not a common necessity. If you suspect that your hemorrhoids are severe, do not hesitate to contact your doctor or a physician at GI North that specializes in gastroenterology and other issues such as hemorrhoids. Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano at GI North serve the Cumming, GA area as well as Alpharetta, Canton, Roswell and Suwanee. Dr. Quijano also speaks fluent Spanish.

© 2016 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

photo of Thanksgiving Turkey dinner | GI NorthThe holidays are upon us and that means getting together with family for large meals around the dining room table. Unfortunately, many of us end up with stomach upsets or indigestion after eating much more than we’re used to having at one sitting.


Your digestive system is composed of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, liver, pancreas and gallbladder. When you eat food, it travels through the hollow “tubes” that make up the GI tract, making its way through other organs that take in nutrients, with the waste passing through the anus.

Digesting food is vital for getting nutrients into your system. The digestive process involves chewing food, swallowing it into the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas and liver. Your body uses muscles and natural digestive juices to move the food and nutrients along.

How Holiday Meals Can Cause Stomach Upsets

When you eat large portions of food in one sitting, it puts pressure on your esophageal sphincter. When that pressure builds, it can cause food and acid to move back up, causing heartburn. In fact, your entire digestive system can be slowed down, causing stomachache and constipation.

Those rich foods on the table are mostly full of sugar and fat. Fat can slow digestion and cause reflux. The same is true of chocolates, coffee, and acidic foods.

The stress of the holidays can also be the cause of stomach upsets. Think of all that shopping for gifts, cooking, cleaning, traveling, and arguing with family members. Stress can result in upset stomachs and heartburn, plus, when you are stressed, you may want to deal with the tension by drinking and eating too much.

Preventing Stomach Upsets

Before going to or hosting a large holiday dinner, try to plan your behavior ahead of time and become aware of how much you’re eating. Here are a few tips to avoid stomach upsets:

  • Only have a second helping of that one dish you really enjoy.
  • When you know the holiday dinner will be especially rich and fatty, compensate by eating a healthy lunch of high-fiber foods.
  • Be conscious of everything you eat throughout the holiday season. Think before you eat, because tasty treats will be everywhere!
  • Eat lavish meals slowly. Savor your food and you won’t overeat as much.
  • Alcohol can irritate your GI tract, so don’t overdo it.
  • Take a short walk after a large meal instead of collapsing on a couch for a nap.

When To Seek Help for Digestive Issues

If you experience ongoing, longer-lasting symptoms that go beyond the holidays and occasional stomach upsets, diarrhea or a little heartburn, then it may be time to see a GI specialist.

The staff and physicians at GI North specialize in digestive system medicine. Dr. Simon Cofrancesco, a gastroenterologist, founded GI North in 2011. Dr. Sergio Quijano, who speaks fluent Spanish, joined the GI North practice after moving to Georgia from New York. GI North serves the Cumming, GA area, including Alpharetta, Roswell, Canton, Suwanee and beyond.

The above article is not meant to take the place of professional medical advice. Please call the staff at GI North if you have any questions or wish to make an appointment.

© 2016 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

medical illustration showing colon polyps | GI NorthColonoscopy has become an integral part of routine preventive care. While health promotion materials regarding regular colonoscopy screening has become wide-spread, what often remains unclear for patients is just why this exam is so important. By further discussing the need for colonoscopies, it may become apparent how the Adenoma Detection Rate (ADR) further indicates the need for routine colonoscopies.

What you need to know about adenomas

Adenomas, abnormal growths that can be found in many parts of the body, are benign by definition. This means that they are localized accumulations of abnormal cells. Adenomas are also referred to as polyps, or adenomatous polyps. After the age of 50, nearly 2 in 5 people can expect to have these abnormal growths in the colon but only about 2% of these adenomas ever pose the risk of transformation to colon cancer.

Detection of adenomas is important because they have the potential to become malignant (i.e. cancerous). In fact, around 1 in 20 apparently adenomatous polyps in the colon actually harbor cancerous cells. The size of an ademoma can be an important indicator as to the risk of cancerous transformation: polyps over 2 cm in size (or about ¾”) have up to a 40% chance of being malignant, while the risk can be as low as 1% with small polyps.

Why you need to have adenomas removed

During routine colonoscopies, adenomas are regularly removed, a process called polypectomy. This is done in order to examine the tissue microscopically and determine if it contains any cancerous cells. Having removed a growth that was later found to be cancerous, the process of polypectomy is not only diagnostic, it can also be curative. In such cases, a physician may recommend more frequent colonoscopies to ensure that the curative process was complete.

What the adenoma detection rate can indicate

The adenoma detection rate (ADR) is the percentage of patients over 50 years old who are undergoing a colonoscopy screening test for the first time and who have one or more adenomas found and removed during the procedure.

Higher ADRs have been linked to lower rates of cancer in patients who have undergone colonoscopy. The ADR can be influenced both by the prevalence of adenomas in the population at-large as well as by the technique of the gastroenterologist performing the colonoscopy. Look for a colonoscopist who can report a high ADR, as this is suggestive of a high quality of care.

How to decrease your risk of colon cancer

While this article is intended to be informative, it is no substitute for professional medical advice. Visit a health care provider to learn more about your risk of colon cancer and how colonoscopy should be incorporated into your health maintenance plan.

Turn to GI North for all your colonoscopy and gastrointestinal health needs. Drs. Cofrancesco and Quijano and their GI North team serve the Cumming, GA area as well as the surrounding areas of Alpharetta, Roswell, Canton, and Suwanee. GI North welcomes patients who prefer health care services in Spanish, as Dr. Quijano is fluent. Whether for an ounce of prevention or a pound of cure, find out today how GI North can address your GI health concerns.

© 2016 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

photo of oatmeal and raspberries in a white bowl | high fiber dietBetween the inconvenience of digestive discomfort and the risk for serious diseases of the digestive tract, there are more than enough reasons to seek-out the best foods for digestive health.

Eat your roughage: why Grandma was right

Adequate intake of dietary fiber has long been recognized as fundamental to good digestive health. As it turns out, eating your vegetables really can help to fend off serious diseases such as colon cancer. Despite long-standing advice to have a diet rich in fiber, Americans currently only get about half of the recommended 25-30 grams of dietary fiber daily.

Enhance your fiber intake with a variety of fiber-rich foods such as split peas (16 grams), artichoke (10 grams), raspberries (8 grams) and instant oatmeal (4 grams). Save the prepared fiber nutritional supplements for moments when a bit of extra fiber is required, such as during an occasional bought of constipation. Consider consulting a medical professional for cases of frequent constipation.

The gut microbiome: your bacterial buddies

Although the idea may take some getting used to, bacteria are one of the most important contributors to digestive health. The specific composition of commensal flora contained in the digestive tract determine how well we can fend off pathogenic organisms. These bacteria can also help break down the foods we eat and provide important proteins that affect how well we absorb the nutrients in our food. This may be why studies on obesity have found compelling connections between the types of microbes in the gut and the risk for obesity.

Maintaining a healthy microbiome

In order to keep the gut microbiome in tip-top shape, be sure to get regular servings of probiotic and prebiotic foods. Due to their generous content of gut-friendly bacteria, probiotic foods help ensure that the ratio of friend-to-foe in the digestive tract stays tipped in your favor. Probiotic foods include natural yogurts and other types of fermented foods including kefir, miso, kombucha and sauerkraut.

Help keep the friendly bacteria thriving by also getting generous doses of prebiotic foods, those on which the friendly gut flora flourish. Inulin, a special type of starch, is a prebiotic that can be found as a supplement in many foods such as yogurts and yogurt drinks and can also be found occurring naturally in chicory. Other foods containing naturally-occurring prebiotics include bananas, oatmeal, asparagus, garlic, onions and leeks.

Finding your digestive health coach

While this article is intended to be informative, it is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Consider a visit to GI North to address all your digestive health needs. From optimizing dietary plans for digestive health to treating advanced disease, GI North provides a full-range of services for the GI tract. Along with their GI North team, Drs. Cofrancesco and Quijano serve the Cumming, GA area as well as the surrounding areas of Alpharetta, Roswell, Canton, and Suwanee. Appointments are also available in Spanish: Dr. Quijano speaks fluently.

© 2016 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

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