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IBS or Colon Cancer ? - Please Help

Cancer IBS

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#1 WorriedBF

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 11:41 PM

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My partner has been worrying himself silly over the last several days, and I am becoming very, very concerned about him.

He has had bouts of severe constipation for over 2 years, and following a very recent visit to a consultant who was not very helpful is now completely panicking about what it could be – to the point that I am very worried. I will go into some details below in the hope that someone can help, and apologise for the detail.

It started approx 2 years ago where a bout of constipation caused him a very large pile. He had constipation on and off for a couple of months, and had a rectal examination at this time which was clear. Symptoms subsided after a while and the pile disappeared.

He then had another long period of problems at the end of last year (He may have had a few more bouts in the interceding time, but we are unsure). He had severe bouts of constipation and a few stomach cramps – usually after eating, and we sort of came to the conclusion that he may be allergic to egg as egg was always involved in the meal if he got pain afterwards. He changed his diet somewhat & seemed to be fine for a while.

Then approx 4 months ago he had a very similar period - bouts of severe constipation and some stomach cramps. (Again, he may have had a few more minor bouts in the interceding time, but we are unsure).  This lasted for a few months. He went to his doctor who said it was nothing to worry about – he probably had stress related IBS and sent him home. He then went back to a different doctor a month or so later. This doctor sent him for blood tests including anaemia, liver function, coeliacs, amongst a number of others – all were clear, she said it seemed like IBS and referred to a consultant.

In the meantime he had approx 3 good weeks of no real problems (hard stools but not constipated).

He went to the consultant and he booked him for a colonoscopy to eliminate various conditions. But mainly through lack of information, the way the consultant babbled and kept mentioning various other conditions, and because he has another bout of constipation now, he is becoming incredibly worried that he has Colorectal cancer.

My partner is so worried that he is not intending to go for the colonoscopy as he doesn’t want to find out.

Other symptom info etc: He is in his early 30’s. His stools are very hard, dry, & pellet / rock like. He has had no blood in his faeces (or tarry faeces) except when he had the pile, and on one occasion after he passed a very, very large & painful stool (the doctor who sent him for blood tests said this was nothing to worry about as the stool probably hurt him). He occasionally has mucus around his stools. The stomach cramps seem to come only after eating (are usually located in the top/mid abdomen), usually indicate the start of an episode, and he can occasionally feel tired after the cramps. No unintended weight loss (in fact he has put on a bit of weight in the last 2 yrs). He does frequently strain to pass stools when he is having a problem period, however sometimes he also feels an urgent need to go immediately. On one occasion a severe bout of diarrhoea followed a bout of constipation. One particular food now seems to be troubling him – dry chicken breast, and he always has issues immediately after eating. After a bout of constipation he will often pass a very large thick stool.



#2 Kathleen M.

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 06:59 AM

1.  Colon cancer is extremely rare at 30.  Even in families with a polyp disease that get polyps in their teens typically get cancer more in the 35-45 range.  People who are not from those families typically get polyps from 45-65 that then become cancer 65-85.

 

2. Cramps after a meal is really typical of IBS.  The colon is most active in the morning and has a spike of activity after meals and that is commonly when people feel pain.

 

3.  Mucus is what lubricates the stools, if you tend to constipation you may make a bit more (and the colon may make more for anything that irritables it).  It is not a sure sign of cancer, especially since every person's colon makes mucus every single day of their lives.

 

Really sounds like IBS.

 

IBS always causes lots of distressing symptoms very much like you describe.

Colon cancer rarely causes symptoms which is why they start screening people for colon cancer at 50 (and that if you remove the polyps at 50 you prevent cancer at 65.


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#3 WorriedBF

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 10:46 AM

1.  Colon cancer is extremely rare at 30.  Even in families with a polyp disease that get polyps in their teens typically get cancer more in the 35-45 range.  People who are not from those families typically get polyps from 45-65 that then become cancer 65-85.

 

2. Cramps after a meal is really typical of IBS.  The colon is most active in the morning and has a spike of activity after meals and that is commonly when people feel pain.

 

3.  Mucus is what lubricates the stools, if you tend to constipation you may make a bit more (and the colon may make more for anything that irritables it).  It is not a sure sign of cancer, especially since every person's colon makes mucus every single day of their lives.

 

Really sounds like IBS.

 

IBS always causes lots of distressing symptoms very much like you describe.

Colon cancer rarely causes symptoms which is why they start screening people for colon cancer at 50 (and that if you remove the polyps at 50 you prevent cancer at 65.

Thank you for your reply, which I have shown my partner, and which has eased him a bit.

Before visiting the consultant he was not concerned about cancer, in fact he was sure it was IBS. But after the consultant kept babbling about needing to check for more serious things like polyps or tumours (and mentioned in passing inflammatory bowl disease), and due to the fact that my partner had read that colonoscopy’s should not really be necessary in his case as <50 and no red flag symptoms, he became uncontrollably concerned. It didn’t help that the hospital has such a short waiting list that an appointment came through very fast.

I would note that I have included everything in my original post, that the consultant was told, so there is nothing else he is basing his investigations on.

I also think that the fact that the constipation is so bad and seems to go on for weeks at a time (he may clear but then gets constipated again immediately) does not help. And as its been going on so long he is sure if it is cancer it will be much too late.

One thing I missed from my original post is that if he uses laxatives/similar: Fibre supplements do not work & can worsen, macrogol sometimes works a tiny bit, Andrews type salts (Magnesium Sulphate, Sodium bicarbonate, Citric acid) can have rapid response into full diarrhoea.



#4 Kathleen M.

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 04:18 PM

Well some doctors are very much in cover their butt do way more tests than are recommeneded as you are more likely to get sued and financially ruined (at least in the USA) for not doing a test than for doing way more than are needed.  Not sure why the UK docs get in CYA mode, but I'm sure some do depending on the rules.

 

Also some doctors who own their own equipment seem to be more prone to doing more colonoscopies (or other things they own) than docs who would have to refer out.  Gotta get the return on investment taken care of.

 

Chronic constipation doesn't have to be more serious than IBS, IBS (or functional constipation) can do it for weeks on end all by itself.

 

What if he uses small doses of the osmotic rather than enought to cause an instant wash out (like 250-700 mgs Magnesium Oxide tabelets that you get at the supplement aisle).


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#5 WorriedBF

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 04:47 PM

Thank you again kathleen. He seems to have been eased a bit. From what I can find out, the hospital in question does seem to like colonoscopy's. I just wish the consultant had chosen his words more carefully, as he made cancer seem like a very real possibility.

My partner was starting to play with the dosage (having found how quickly it could work) in order to try and get some normality back into his bowl habits; however the visit to the consulant really set him back with this as all he has done since is worry. I also think (though he is not as sure) that his constipation does appear linked to stress which I know is indicative of IBS and similar.







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Cancer, IBS


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