OncoLink eNews: On the Forefront of Colorectal Cancer, Winter 2003

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Please use for reference only.

Carolyn Vachani RN, MSN, AOCN
Last Modified: December 13, 2002

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Volume 3, Issue 1

OncoLink would like to recognize the contribution of the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA) whose initiative with Pharmacia Oncology and Pfizer has made this publication possible.

NCCRA Unites Hollywood & Broadway's Biggest Stars For Fundraiser

Katie Couric
Katie Couric

Katie Couric and the Entertainment Industry Foundation brought together some of the biggest stars from Hollywood and Broadway on Tuesday November 12, 2002, to raise funds for the future Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at New York-Presbyterian Hospital (planned to open in early 2004) and the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance. The event, titled "42nd & Vine?Hollywood Hits Broadway," was held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York and raised five million dollars for the worthy causes. Stars performed selections from Leonard Bernstein's "The Songs of West Side Story." The event boasted an extraordinary line-up of talent, all of whom graciously donated their time, including Kevin Spacey, Robin Williams, Bette Midler, Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno, Toni Danza, Whoopi Goldberg, and many others.

Bette Midler, Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno

Some of the highlights of the evening included Jimmy Fallon and Chris Kattan singing backup to Robert DeNiro and Kevin Kline in "Jets Song;" Bette Midler, Rita Moreno and Chita Rivera performing "America;" Tony Danza, Jesse Martin and surprise guest former Mayor Rudy Giuliani singing "Gee, Officer Krupke" along with "Sopranos" cast members Frederico Castelluccio, Steve Schirripa, Tony Sirico and John Ventimiglia; and Beyonce Knowles belting out "Somewhere."

Tony Danza, Jesse Martin singing "Gee, Officer Krupke" along with "Sopranos" cast members Frederico Castelluccio, Steve Schirripa, Tony Sirico and John Ventimiglia

"I can't say enough about all the talented people who put their time and energy into last night's event...it was a collaboration like no other, and I am still awed at the generosity of all of the participants," said Katie Couric about the evening. "Moreover, thanks to our guests and underwriters, we have made huge steps towards making The Jay Monahan Center a reality -- for me, that is what truly made last night so special."

Tony Danza and Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani

"We are deeply grateful to the amazing lineup of performers who graciously donated their time and talent," said Lisa Paulsen, president and CEO of the Entertainment Industry Foundation. "The entertainment industry's support speaks volumes about how much we all respect Katie's work in combating gastrointestinal cancers."

The evening's success will help to continue the NCCRA's mission of raising awareness of the seriousness of colorectal cancer and increasing the number of people receiving preventive testing for colorectal cancer; as well as raising funds for those scientists doing the best cutting-edge research throughout the United States.

Ask the Experts


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I suffer from chronic constipation. My mother, who also has suffered from constipation, has recently been diagnosed with colon cancer. I have recently found that colonics help alleviate the symptoms, but I am unsure about how effective this therapy may be for prevention of colon cancer. Also, how often are colonics suggested? Can you become dependent on them to have a bowel movement? Any guidance would be appreciated.


Carolyn Vachani RN, MSN, AOCN, OncoLink's Medical Correspondent, responds:

Although chronic constipation can cause problems such as hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and bowel obstruction, it has not been shown to cause colon cancer. There are many ways to address chronic constipation including changes in diet to include more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, increasing the amount of exercise you do, and using stool softeners, bulking agents (like Metamucil), and laxatives only as needed. Chronic use of laxatives and enemas can cause you to become dependent on them to have a bowel movement. Talk to your doctor or a gastroenterology specialist about the best therapies for you.

A high colonic involves the inserting a plastic tube 20 to 30 inches into the rectum and pumping large quantities of liquid into the intestine (up to 20 gallons). The fluid is drained, and the process is repeated several times. The liquid used can vary, but most commonly is water, herbal solutions or coffee. In contrast, a regular enema uses about a quart of liquid. The process may sound harmless, but actually can lead to serious problems including infection from contaminated equipment, electrolyte imbalances, or perforation of the intestine, all of which can lead to death. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies colonic irrigation machines as Class III devices, meaning they cannot legally be marketed except for medical test preparation (such as a radiologic or endoscopic exam).

Colonic therapy goes back to the days of the ancient Egyptians, who felt that it helped to rid the body of toxins that caused death and disease. It became popular in the United States in the 20's and 30's, when colonic irrigation machines could be found in most hospitals and doctor's offices. Science proved the theories of detoxification with colonics wrong, and they became less popular. Despite the problems with colonic therapy, it has recently seen an increase in popularity. It is known that most digestion takes place in the small intestine, the remaining waste moves into the colon, where water and minerals are removed before it passes through the rectum and is eliminated. There is no evidence that toxins can accumulate in intestinal walls due to poor elimination of stool (or constipation).

Reference: American Cancer Society's Guide To Complementary and Alternative Cancer Methods (2000) By: David S. Rosenthal, MD

View more Ask the Expert questions, or to submit a question.

Holiday Ideas

Do you know someone going through cancer treatment during the holidays? This can be a very difficult time for patients. They may not feel up to the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but worry that they may disappoint others if they don't have a "normal" holiday. As a friend or loved one, you can help make this holiday easier and maybe even more special by doing some simple things for that special person. OncoLink has put together a Holiday "Gift" Guide with ideas from cancer survivors and their families.

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