These colorectal surgeons educate and treat patients with often-stigmatized conditions.
As a colorectal specialist, Dr. Jennifer Silinsky sees patients experiencing a wide range of conditions, from hemorrhoids to colon cancer. It is this variety in her everyday practice that she enjoys most about her work. “I wanted the chance to be able to help people with cancer — and I also liked that there are a lot of benign pathologies that can affect quality of life, so it’s nice to be able to help those patients as well,” she says.
After practicing at Ochsner for seven years, Dr. Silinsky joined Colon & Rectal Surgery Associates, a private practice based on East Jefferson’s Metairie campus. She now works with a team of colleagues, including Dr. Sean Mayfield, to offer a comprehensive approach to colon, rectal and pelvic issues, including cancer, pelvic floor dysfunction, fecal incontinence and gastrointestinal problems.
Dr. Mayfield, who joined Colon & Rectal Surgery Associates in July, also appreciates the variety that this practice offers, as well as the ability to change and improve lives.
“Colorectal surgery involves a wide variety of surgical procedures, disease complexity and the ability to provide immediate, life changing treatment for my patients,” Dr. Mayfield says. “Each patient provides me with a unique sense of fulfillment.”
Because colorectal conditions are not often openly discussed, Doctors Silinsky and Mayfield focus much of their work on patient education and outreach. “I would say that the biggest challenge is just getting people to be aware of the problems that are out there,” Dr. Silinsky says. “No one likes to talk about problems with their gastrointestinal tract … there’s a stigma that people feel that goes along with those kinds of issues.”
To combat this stigma, which can prevent patients from getting the care and quality-of-life improvements they need, Colon & Rectal Surgery Associates provides informative handouts for patients and an inviting office environment. “We try to have a warm environment where people feel comfortable opening up to us,” Dr. Silinsky says.
Colorectal surgery is one of many medical fields that has benefited greatly from recent advances in technology.
“We’re coming out with better chemotherapies and better surgical strategies,” Dr. Silinsky says. “EJ just purchased a new Da Vinci [Surgical System] robot, which I think is a great invention. It allows us to perform the best-quality surgery for our patients.”
In addition, sacral nerve-stimulation technology, which has long been used to combat urinary incontinence, is now being applied to fecal incontinence, and Doctors Silinsky and Mayfield are optimistic about it as a form of treatment, saying they have received “really good results” in a wide range of patients.
When it comes to colorectal cancer, the earlier the cancer is detected, the better a patient’s chance of survival. According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, when colon cancer is caught at Stage 1, it carries a 92-percent survival rate. That is why Doctors Silinsky and Mayfield stress how important it is for their patients to maintain their regularly scheduled screenings and never to dismiss any symptoms.
“One of the biggest misconceptions is, ‘Oh, I’m having anorectal bleeding and pain — it’s just my hemorrhoids,” cautions Dr. Silinsky. “Sometimes, it can be bleeding from inflammatory bowel disease; sometimes, it can even be cancer. If it is something more aggressive, the earlier you catch it, the better.”
Maintaining a diet high in fiber, as well as drinking in moderation and abstaining from smoking, can all help prevent colon cancer, but Dr. Mayfield strongly suggests patients undergo a full-screening colonoscopy. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone who is 50 years of age and older receive regular colonoscopy screenings.
When a patient is diagnosed with colorectal cancer, Doctors Silinsky and Mayfield, and the team at Colon & Rectal Surgery Associates, work together to create a comprehensive treatment plan.
“Everybody here is on the same page,” Dr. Silinsky says. “Everyone is here to help the patient. We truly put the patient first.”
Colon & Rectal Surgery Associates
4224 Houma Blvd. #540
Metairie, LA 70006