Medical Minute – Sponsored by Abilene Regional Medical Center

Welcome to the Medical Minute sponsored by Abilene Regional Medical Center.


And National Registered Dietitian Day is March 13th!

By March, only a small percentage of people have been able to keep up their New Year’s Resolutions, which for most people are diet and exercise. But National Nutrition Month reminds us to really think about nutrition and how it affects our bodies. Everyday there are new articles, news segments and even social media influencers promoting different diets from eating like a caveman, to cutting out a complete food group, or even eating nothing at all for most of the day. But which diets really work, and which diets are even safe?

These fad diets, including the Ketogenic diet, the #1 googled diet of 2018, Paleo, Cabbage Soup Diet, juicing cleanse, all have one thing in common: cutting out an entire food group. While these diets are well defined and typically easier to follow because they are so limited, people on these diets are usually missing a lot of good nutrients and benefits from foods that they have cut out. Also, these restrictive diets are hard to follow long term, and typically end up with weight regain in the end. Dietitians recommend a safer, healthier option which is to eat balanced meals with whole foods (the least processed foods), protein, fruit and vegetables, whole grains and limit added sugars and processed foods. Start to look at food differently by thinking of it as a fuel for your body and save the less healthy foods for special occasions. This way of eating is easier said than done, but a simple way to start is by being mindful, evaluate what is already being eaten, and start to make small changes with realistic goals in mind.

Remember, there is no one perfect diet for everyone, it is nearly impossible to eat “clean” 100% of the time, and there are many different ways of eating that can be healthy. If you have any questions about diets or are thinking about making some changes and you want support, let your ARMC dietitians help you! You can reach out to Elodie or Samm at 1626 and 1627. We will also being doing some healthy meals in the cafeteria this month for National Nutrition Month!


If you’re thinking, “A colonoscopy?  Isn’t that a test for OLD people?” you may want to take a closer look at recent news from the American Cancer Society. The ACS this year altered their recommendation for timing of a first-time colon cancer screening from age 50 to age 45, for those at average risk of cancer. The change was directly tied to the rising number of younger adults being diagnosed with colorectal cancers – including many with no family history of the disease.

Colon cancer is the third most common form of cancer in the United States, with over 100,000 new cases of colon, and over 44,000 cases of rectal cancers to be diagnosed in 2019.  The good news is that with early detection—through a colonoscopy—the survival rate dramatically increases. 


 “There is the potential for false perceptions regarding the changing data on colon cancer,” says Sandip Mathur, M.D., Gastroenterologist at Abilene Regional Medical Center,   “While mortality rates from colon cancer have been declining over the past 30 years, the number of new diagnoses is actually increasing. This is both good news and bad news – we are doing a better job of screening for and removing polyps before they become cancerous, while lifestyle and diet choices are driving up the risk and incidence of these cancers in general.”

What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows a doctor, usually a gastroenterologist, to see inside the colon and rectum.   Used as either a screening test or diagnostic tool, it can help our doctor investigate early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum, as well as help diagnose the causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits such as abdominal pain, rectal bleeding and weight loss.  While you are sedated, the doctor will insert a thin, long, flexible, lighted tube (a colonoscope) into your rectum and slowly guide it into your colon.   The scope transmits an image of the inside of the colon onto a screen so the doctor can carefully examine the lining of the colon.

If anything abnormal is observed, such as a polyp (growth), it is painlessly removed at that time and later tested in a laboratory for signs of cancer.   Since most colorectal cancer begins as a polyp, removing polyps early is an effective prevention method.   Your doctor can also take samples from abnormal looking tissue (a biopsy) so that suspicious areas can be examined. 


 “While colonoscopy remains the gold standard, there are several diagnostic and lab tools that can screen for the presence of blood or polyps in the colon,” says Dr. Mathur.   “However, patients should be aware that an abnormal result in any of these tests MUST be followed by a full colonoscopy, in order to mitigate the increased risk of cancer, and to promptly remove any polyps. This fact should be considered by both patient and physician, before any of these lesser screening methods are used.”


Finally, the new guidance includes very specific precautions for those at increased risk of colon cancer. For these patients, the physician may advise initial screening BEFORE age 45, being screened more often, and/or using specific screening methods to ensure polyps are found and removed early, before they can become cancerous. These risk factors include:


  • A personal or family history of colorectal cancer, or of certain types of polyps
  • A personal history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • A history of radiation in the abdomen or pelvis, in treatment of previous cancer(s)
  • A genetic and hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome

While it is one of the most common forms of cancer, colon cancer is also highly preventable and treatable. Healthy diet and lifestyle choices, combined with proactive screening and prompt removal of any polyps, can dramatically reduce your risk of contracting this disease. Also, never ignore changes of any kind in your bowel habits – be prepared to share details with your physician, including frequency, consistency and any type of discomfort or dysfunction.

 About Abilene Regional Medical Center

Abilene Regional Medical Center is a 231 bed, full service, all private room acute care hospital where technology and skilled professionals come together to provide compassionate, customer-focused care.  Key services include an Emergency Department, Accredited Chest Pain Center, Accredited Stroke Center, Women’s Services, Orthopedics, Cardiology, Wound Care, Cardiac Rehab, Wellness Center, robotic assisted surgery and the area’s first accredited Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  With more than 200 physicians and 800 employees, Abilene Regional Medical Center is committed to serving your healthcare needs.  Visit us at for a complete listing of services.