A Young Mother’s Cancer Story

Imagine learning you have Stage 4 cancer at age 29 – you’re a newlywed and the mom of a little boy. Scarlet Lutz of Chapin has colon cancer that has spread to her liver. Her condition is considered terminal. She shared her story in this WIS-TV news report hoping to help others recognize their symptoms and see their doctor promptly. Scarlet’s doctor is Steven Madden, MD, of Lexington Oncology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, who shares his insights on the disease.

 

The incidence of colon cancer is rapidly increasing in young people. Doctors aren’t sure why, but think it may have to do with diet – including eating a lot of red meat and processed foods – rising obesity rates, smoking and sedentary lifestyles.

Typically, doctors recommend a colon cancer screening called a colonoscopy at age 50 – or younger if you have a family history of the disease. Also – regardless of age – talk to your doctor if you have symptoms including abdominal cramps, blood in the stool, changes in the appearance of the stool, or changes in bowel habits.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death – behind lung cancer. It’s also preventable – and treatable when detected early. Unfortunately, if it’s not caught early and spreads to other parts of the body, it can be difficult to cure. And, more than 60% of people in South Carolina who should have a colonoscopy report never having the screening.

For more information about cancer service at Lexington Medical Center, visit LexMed.com/Cancer.

“The Widow-Maker”

Celebrity trainer Bob Harper recently suffered a type of heart attack called “the widow-maker.” He talked about it on The Today Show this week in this interview.

 

Dr. Brandon Drafts

So, what’s a “widow-maker?” And how does someone so passionate about health and fitness have a heart attack? We asked Dr. Brandon Drafts, cardiologist with Lexington Cardiology at Lexington Medical Center.

Q: What’s “the widow-maker?”
A: The “widow-maker” is a term used to describe a heart attack that occurs in the proximal portion of the left anterior descending (LAD) artery. The disease process or the sequence of events that leads to a heart attack is the same, but the location of the “widow-maker” is critical because of the large territory of heart muscle that is at risk, which could lead to cardiac arrest. It’s important to know that any heart attack can potentially be fatal, but the location of the “widow-maker” is very high risk.

Q: Bob Harper was a health and fitness fanatic, but also had a family history of heart disease. Are genetics alone enough to cause a heart attack, even if you’re healthy?
A: Yes, it’s possible that genetics can be the major factor leading to a heart attack. It’s uncommon, but we do see either severe heart disease or heart attacks that occur in very active people or even competitive athletes like marathon runners.

Genetics are complex, but basically involve deficiencies or mutations of certain genes that cause the coronary arteries to be more susceptible to the fatty plaque build-up that obstructs blood flow or can cause a sudden heart attack. Genetics can also refer to cardiac risk factors such as high cholesterol or diabetes that can be very difficult to control despite medical therapy.

So, it’s important to get established with a doctor who can monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight over time.

Learn more about cardiovascular services at Lexington Medical Center by visiting LexMed.com/Heart.

Colon Cancer Increasing in Young People

The incidence of colon cancer is increasing in young people. In fact, Dr. Perrie Ryan of Lexington Oncology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, says studies show that by 2030, 90% of 20-somethings will develop colon cancer in their lifetime. Why? Listen to what he says in the WLTX interview below.

 

While there are many risk factors for colon cancer, Dr. Ryan says that factors including obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, eating a lot of red meat or processed meat and diabetes in younger people may be contributing to the increase in young people.

Each year, about 2,000 people in South Carolina are diagnosed with colon cancer and about 800 die from the disease. In fact, it’s the second deadliest form of cancer behind lung cancer. But it’s also preventable – and treatable when detected early. The best way to prevent colon cancer is to have a colonoscopy. That test can locate and remove polyps before they turn into cancer. Talk to your doctor about when you should begin colon cancer screening.

For more information about cancer services at Lexington Medical Center, visit LexMed.com/Cancer.