Digestive Disorders / Gastroenterology Expert Forum
Do I have colon cancer or could there be another reason for symptoms
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Do I have colon cancer or could there be another reason for symptoms

About 1 1/2 months ago I had a bowel movement which caused pain in my lower left side of the back.  Shortly thereafter I started belching and passing gas alot.  I am going thru alot of anxiety and stress at the present time so thought the stomach problems were a result of all that is going on as I was and still am to a certain degree overwhelmed.  About 2 1/2 weeks ago I became constipated and when I went to the bathroom smaller stools that were either small balls or thinner bowel movements and I freaked out as I thought I have to have colon cancer.  I also periodically had the pain in my back but never again with a bowel movement.  Sometimes I have pain in my left side that goes into my left side of back and sometimes its on my right side.  Therefore I figured I had colon cancer that had spread to my liver.  I had a complete CBC and metobolic blood work up and fecal occult test and all came back ok, in fact they looked great per my Dr.  The only thing I had a problem with was my thyroid as I had thyroid cancer 8 yrs ago and my levels were off and they had to change my synthroid dosage.  I was very nervous and shaky at the same time. I went to go see a gastro and he upset me because he did not say anything like maybe it could be IBS but immediately made a comment like well some of the symptoms could be colon cancer, no exam or anything.  My family Dr says he does not think I have colon cancer but my anxiety is getting the better of me.  I was fast walking on my treadmill for 10 miles a day and have not done it for the past 2 weeks as I have lost interest in almost everything with the exeption of my children.  I am consumed with this day and night.  I wake up alot in the night with anxiety attacks and jump on the scale,  I am concerned because I am not losing weight but am not gaining and am eating.  I am probably eating alot because I am convinced I need to gain weight to convince myself I am not dying.  I think maybe the problem with the weight and nervousness could be my thyroid being off but not sure.  The last couple of days I started eating prunes and am having daily bowel movements that are larger.  They are light brown and some are round and some are longer but not skinny.  I would think if I had colon cancer they would have stayed thinner and this is also what my Dr said.  I am not tired except when I don't get a good nights sleep.  Please help, need some thoughts.  I can go in for a colonoscopy but my Dr thinks I am so anxious right now, he put me a Zoloft and I got even more nervous so stopped taking it.  I feel good, don't feel sick and am eating normally.  Any thoughts?
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With a change in the caliber of the stool, and the concern about colon cancer, you may want to consider an endoscopy to put your fears at rest.  There are two types - a full colonoscopy and a flexible sigmoidoscopy.  The sigmoidoscopy is a bit more comfortable, but doesn't go as far in as the colonoscopy.  

If the endoscopy is negative, you may want to consider an evaluation for IBS.  Increasing fiber intake should be the first step.  You can also consider antispasmodic agents that can help the sensation of increased gas or bloating.

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Thanks,
Kevin, M.D.
4 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi,
I'm going through something a little like you are.  I was diagnosed with IBS 6 yrs. ago with diarohea and lower right abdominal pain being my predominant symptoms. Had blood test done, fecal occult done...all negative. Eight mos. ago I sold my home, and moved far from my family to another state. Had financial problems not to mention missing my family. Talk about bigtime anxiety! That's when my styptoms changed a bit. I started getting little pieces some of them tiny balls stuck inside of a otherwise normal stool. Then, when I moved away, like you, I started having balls and had a hard time going sometimes.

Now that I've moved back it's back to small pieces inside the stool at the beginning of it, not just balls anymore. I've heard that IBS can change like that in times of stress etc. Now we're living at my parents waiting for a house to be built in 6 mos. I still have anxiety going on from that 8 mos. ago. Before I was diagnosed with IBS I thought I had colon cancer too. Now with this change I still have that on my mind being it runs in my family and my father had colon cancer last yr.

Even though I think this change is from my stressful situation I need to get a colonoscopy done just for the fact that colon cancer runs in my family.

I'm not a doctor but it seems to me that your symptoms are from so much anxiety and stress. Our thinking can reek havoc on our GI systems causing the very symptoms you described. All sorts of pains in the body and GI tract etc. Colon cancer doesn't cause pain unless it's very advanced and there would be bleeding. Your tests showed no occult blood etc.

Try not to worry so much about it and keep your doctor informed about what's going on so he can help you with your concerns. Good Luck!

L-Town
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Avatar_n_tn
I think you should get a colonoscopy to put your mind at ease. It's funny how we always assume the worst when we notice a change or pain in our bodies. The C word is always the first thing we assume but it's usually the least likely cause. To let an "unknown" cause you fear and anxiety is self defeating. Have the tests done and relieve your stress.

By the way, anxiety drugs are never the answer. They only mask the symptoms of anxiety and many times can make them worse. Positive thinking and self relaxation are the keys to defeating anxiety. I'm speaking from experience as a recovering panic attack sufferer. Good luck.
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Avatar_n_tn
I was diagnosed with colon cancer three years ago.   I decided to have a screening colonoscopy because I had turned 50.  Also my mother had colon cancer at the age of 80.  She is now 90.  I had no symptoms whatsoever.  An early malignancy was found and I had surgery a week after the colonoscopy.  So far I am fine.  Early detection is the key.  Don't put it off, call today for an appointment to set up a colonoscopy.  It can literally SAVE YOUR LIFE.  The procedure itself is nothing, I was "out" and never knew a thing.  The preparation for it is not fun, and is unpleasant.  But certainly tolerable and well worth it.  I have done it four times now!
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi, had colonoscopy which turned out great, said I had internal hemorroids (hemorrhoids) only and if they still bothered me I should have them taken care of.  I am still having pain in my left side and then my right side and alot of beching sounds coming from my stomach into my throat, still under alot of stress.  It all seems to get worse when I eat but sometimes have pain when not eating.  I am going to watch what I eat starting tomorrow and eat slower and smaller portions to see if this helps.  Does anybody have any ideas of any other tests that I can have to make sure I don't have something bad going on in my body?  I was losing some weight but did find out my thyroid was off so they changed my medicine and I am no longer losing weight, in fact have gained a couple pounds back.  I have not lost my appetite.  Could it be my gallbladder????  Help!!!
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