June 15, 2017
At Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, our nurses and technologists in admitting, pre-op, surgical services and recovery are dedicated to healing. That’s because surgical services are our strength and every case is our passion. We offer the largest OR in the Valley – 23 surgical suites and 8 dedicated surgical teams. Visit Surgical Services online or call for a physician referral.
We are also home to the Digestive Health Institute offering a multi-center approach to covering the entire digestive process. Our multidisciplinary team of physicians, who are board certified and fellowship-trained, bring years of specialized training and the clinical experience needed to treat the most complex cases.
About Elisa Amburgey
There are only a few success stories in the long history of fighting against cancer that are as prominent as the development of screening for colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer, and second only to lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. But thanks to screening, it’s also one of the very few conditions that can be reliably caught in its early steps before it becomes full-blown cancer.
That’s why medical guidelines encourage people to start screening by undergoing colonoscopy beginning at age 50. And many patients feel they owe their lives to swift detection and prevention of a disease that claims about 49,000 lives in the U.S. each year.
One of those patients is Las Vegas resident Elisa Amburgey. At the age of 53, her problems with hemorrhoids had persisted for months. She decided to see a specialist and visited colorectal surgeon, Dr. Ovunc Bardakcioglu - on staff at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center - who suggested a colonoscopy.
By doing colonoscopy, doctors look for precancerous growths, known as polyps, which form on the inner wall of the colon or rectum. Some polyps become cancerous over time, so they should be removed to prevent cancer.
Amburgey’s colonoscopy showed a polyp, and a biopsy proved she had a precancerous type.
“I looked it up online. It was nerve wracking knowing that it would be a possible aggressive type of polyp,” Amburgey said. “I wanted to go directly to someone who knew. Dr. Bardakcioglu put me at ease by telling me that my symptoms were common. It made me feel better.”
The polyp was quickly removed by Dr. Bardakcioglu, who chose a laparoscopic procedure he is well-versed to perform. The surgery required Amburgey to stay in the hospital only two days. “I am 100 percent OK. Everything went great. I didn’t have three different types of doctors. I got my surgery done quickly and it went very well,” Amburgey said.
As life-saving as screening may be, the rates of people undergoing it are still below what national health and medical authorities--such as the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-- are calling for. About a third of patients get diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, which may be past the ability to remove the cancer. Their only option is chemotherapy.
“We have a goal now that 80% of the population gets screened by 2020. Currently, we are nationally at 60%. In Nevada, we are at 40%.” said Dr. Bardakcioglu said. “If everyone got screened, we would detect it and and it early to treat.”
Dr. Bardakcioglu uses several tools at his disposal to end, prevent and treat colorectal cancer. “We strive to do the least invasive,” he said. “If we end colon polyps or cancer, the ideal treatment is to remove them by a Snare, which is a loop wire used to cut through the base of the polyp and remove it.”
But sometimes the polyp can be more complicated and require a different course of action. In those case, for example, Dr. Bardakcioglu may first separate the polyp tissue at the wall to reduce the risk of having a perforation.
In some cases, such as in Amburgey’s, the best choice is to remove the section of colon where the polyp was found. Colon resection can be done laparoscopically or robotically, and usually requires a 2-day hospital stay.
In the case of rectal polyps, Dr. Bardakcioglu often uses another surgical technique known as transanal endoscopic microsurgery. “We use a laparoscope instrument through a device that is placed in the anal canal and use surgical instruments to remove polyps surgically,” Dr. Bardakcioglu said. “It’s a great option for patients with early stage rectal cancer. But most gastroenterologists and surgeons aren’t trained in it.”
Because of the nuances of each type of polyp, a specialist has a better understanding of the benefits and complications of various surgical techniques and choose the one best suited to each patient. “As a surgeon, I can view options across the broad spectrum and look objectively at all options,” Dr. Bardakcioglu said.