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Ask Dr. Gott 5/16

Are frequent colonoscopies necessary?

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DEAR DR. GOTT: I am a mid-40s female who had successful surgery to remove a rectal villous adenoma, which had almost penetrated the colon wall but fortunately was not cancerous. The surgeon said that as a follow up, I should have a flexible sigmoidoscopy in six months, and, if that looked OK, then a colonoscopy every two to three years for the rest of my life. However, shortly after my surgery, the surgeon had his license temporarily suspended for prescription drug abuse. Before I see the substitute surgeon the clinic will hire as a replacement, I'd like to know if my surgeon's follow-up treatment is the correct one for this situation.
    DEAR READER: I agree with your first surgeon's conclusions: a "flex sig" followed by a colonoscopy in two to three years. I would make the following adjustment. If your colon studies are normal, the colonoscopy could probably be repeated every five years. Follow your new surgeon's advice in this matter.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Diverticular Disease."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I read with interest your column about a philodendron plant being a healthful addition to someone's living quarters.
    For people sensitive to poison oak, philodendron may be a problem, as they both contain calcium oxalate, a substance that irritates the skin.
    If eaten, the leaves may cause burning, swelling and choking. Even handling the plant is not safe. If the skin is exposed to the leaves, where the abrasive oxalate crystals are found, an uncomfortable skin rash can develop.
    There were always philodendrons in my home, and, over the years, I had occasional unexplained itchy blisters on my wrist area. When I learned it was possible they came from my philodendron plant, I decided to do an experiment. I pulled a leaf from my philodendron and made an X on my wrist. Two days later, I was wishing I had made a smaller X, as there was a perfect X of blisters. Needless to say, I no longer have philodendrons in my home.
    DEAR READER: My endorsement of houseplants was purposely very general. For obvious reasons, plant/pollen allergies must be addressed vigorously and be considered as more the exception than the rule. Your comments are appropriate. People must avoid contact with the plants that cause them to have allergic reactions.
    It has been my experience that philodendrons, for most people, are harmless houseplants.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Allergies."
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