Women on Top 2019 Event Speech

Dr. Broussard spoke at the 2019 Women on Top event through the Greater Seattle Business Association. Read her speech below.

Good evening. Thank you for opportunity to speak with you tonight at this wonderful event.

My name is Liz Broussard and I’m a gastroenterologist at Pacific Medical Center. I thought I’d talk a little about who I am and then spend most of my time talking about colon cancer screening and colon health.

I was born in S Korea and moved with my family to Queens, NY when I was three. I spent all of my childhood and teens on the east coast. I went to Wesleyan for college and then Cornell for medical school. I moved in 2000 to complete my training in internal medicine and GI at the UW. After training, I worked for 10 years at UW and HMC training residents and fellows and managing pretty complex patients. I chose to transition to Pacific Medical Centers 3 years ago, mostly due to a need for change of pace, in an organization with excellent reputation and the ability to continue working with fellows as part of my practice. At PacMed, I found exceptional colleagues, in Primary Care, Surgery, Cardiology and across all specialties, fantastic staff, and amazing patients. I love the focus on quality in the care we deliver, and in doing the right thing for our patients. As a gastroenterologist, I treat diseases of the entire GI tract. From your mouth to your anus, I am your go to gal!

So now I’d like to talk about you a bit. If you are comfortable doing this, please raise your hand if you are age 50 or older. Great. You can put your hands down. Now please raise your hand if you have had a colonoscopy. Thank you. So you all know the bowel prep was not fun but hopefully the procedure itself was comfortable as you were sedated and sleeping. Now why did your doctor put you through this?

Here’s the thing. The top three cancers affecting women in the US are lung, breast and colon cancer. Unlike lung and breast cancer, colon cancer is almost entirely preventable. We know that you can’t go from normal colon straight to cancer. Normal colon... small growth or polyp... bigger polyp... bigger polyp turns to cancer. If we go back to that small polyp and remove it during colonoscopy, you do not get cancer. Unlike a breast lump or a funny looking mole suspicious for skin cancer, you don’t see or feel anything when the polyp is growing. The only way to know is to take a look and remove it with colonoscopy. All this depends on how good a look we can get in colon, which is why we make you drink Golytely to clean out the colon. It also depends on how good we are at finding polyps. We are overachievers at PacMed. Stats don’t lie. The national standard is 25-30% and we are at 50-60%!

Now raise your hands if you are under 50. When should you get a colonoscopy or see a GI provider? There are some red flags or warning signs that I’ll talk about now:

  1. Any bleeding from the rectum. This is abnormal and needs evaluation. It doesn’t mean you have cancer and it could be from a number of benign causes.
  2. Unintentional weight loss. As women, we tend to welcome some weight loss, so we may leave things too late. If you are going about your normal business and the pounds are dropping off, something is not right. You need to come in for a visit.
  3. New abdominal pain that persists needs evaluation.
  4. Iron deficiency anemia. In women menstruating, this can be from monthly blood loss, but anemia can also be caused by blood loss from the colon, and needs evaluation.
  5. Change in bowel habits; If you are a once a day gal, and all of a sudden you are going 5-10 times a day, you need to come in for evaluation. Conversely, if you are a once a day gal, and now you are going once a week, you need to come in.
  6. Lastly, Family history of colon cancer. If mom, dad, your sister or brother had colon cancer, you may need early colonoscopy.

Patients ask what they can do to prevent polyps, especially after colonoscopy. Here’s who I never find any polyps in: VEGETARIAN RUNNERS. Now, I don’t think we need to be that extreme, but what I take from this is that patients should eat more vegetables, exercise regularly and limit red meat intake.

I hope this has been helpful and again, thank you for your attention and the opportunity to talk with you this evening.

Thanks again.

Elizabeth Broussard, MD

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