“Out of sight, out of mind” is an approach that doesn’t work well with most healthcare concerns, especially colorectal issues. Diverticulitis, colon cancer, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, anal fistulas, and more are conditions that steadily decline over time. By the time the patient is ready to face the issue and see their physician, it is often time to move right into surgery and aggressive treatments.
How Can We Get Our Patients In The Door?
Colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer in men and women and it has a higher rate of success if treated early. So, how can we encourage patients to see their doctor right away if they are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms? Dr. Edward Horvath of STAT Surgical, northeast location, suggests early screening options such as offering free home fecal occult test kits, which is a hands-free way to detect blood in the stool. “Having a test kit to use in the
privacy of their own homes, without any mess involved, is a much easier approach to screening for colon cancer,” said Dr. Horvath. “It isn’t enough, however. Patients still need a full diagnosis at an office visit.”
Physicians can also recommend YouTube videos or informational brochures about colonoscopies to take the mystery out of the procedure. “Make sure your staff has a carefully developed elevator speech ready about colonoscopies so they can deliver it in a matter-of-fact, calming manner,” shared Dr. Horvath.
“Laparoscopic or robotic-assisted surgeries are excellent choices for colon cancer patients” -Dr. Edward Horvath of STAT Surgical
Breaking down the barriers between patients and physicians to discuss such a personal issue is another important factor in early detection. “I treat my patients like family. They are comfortable with me, and it makes it easier to discuss the more embarrassing concerns,” said Dr. Horvath.
Once colon cancer is diagnosed, the least invasive treatment options are then considered. “Laparoscopic or robotic-assisted surgeries are excellent choices for colon cancer patients,” said Dr. Horvath, adding that, “The minimally-invasive nature makes them more readily accepted by the patients who might otherwise be tempted to put off treatment.”
Potential benefits of robotic-assisted surgery or laparoscopic techniques include shorter hospital stays, less bleeding and faster recovery. “It’s an easy sell when patients find out the potential benefits and how much less of an impact the surgery will have on their lives,” said Dr. Horvath. However, he adds that not every patient is a good candidate for robotic-assisted surgeries.
Education is the final factor that physicians need to consider when reaching out to patients with gastrointestinal conditions. “Having colon cancer facts readily available in blogs on your website, in brochures in your office and in your newsletters, are all important ways to educate your patients,” said Dr. Horvath.
Through patient education, early detection, quality care and meticulous follow-up, we can help make a positive impact in treating colorectal diseases that, for patients, are hard to talk about and easy to ignore.
Dr. Edward E. Horvath is board-certified in general surgery and surgical critical care. He is certified with the da Vinci Surgical System® and performs robotic-assisted and laparoscopic, minimally-invasive techniques. Dr. Horvath received his medical degree at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, and he completed his surgical residency at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston. His advanced fellowship in surgical critical care and
burns was also completed at Brooke Army Medical Center.
For more information call 210.657.2100 or fax 210.657.2110. Dr. Edward Horvath is located at STAT Surgical, Northeast Location, 8711 Village Drive, Suite 310 in San Antonio, TX 78217.