Digestive Disorders / Gastroenterology Expert Forum
Rectal bleeding and colon cancer
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Rectal bleeding and colon cancer

What is the usual presentation of rectal bleeding with colon cancer?  I have seen a small amount of blood on three occasions since February of this year.  I have also had digestive problems starting last Dec. with indigestion, which got better with Prevacid.  Then I began having diarrhea with a lot of undigested food (vegetables) in stool. Fiber and immodium helped the diarrhea.  I get crampy pain on my left side usually relieved by a bowel movement.  I'm concerned about the bleeding, which I haven't in two months.  On one occasion I definitely had hemmorhoidal symptoms, painful itchy rectum.  I have had an anal fissure since my teens which flairs up once in a while, with diarrhea or constipation.  Would rectal bleeding with colon cancer likely appear more often than every 4 months?  Are there other causative factors that could explain my symptoms besides "the worst", such as colitis, or IBS that irritates hemmorhoids and causes bleeding?
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12 Comments
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I will make one remark about rectal bleeding - don't ignore it thinking it's just hemmorroids.

My brother had the same issue last month, occassional rectal bleeding, bright red and he chalked it up to hemmoroids (hemorrhoids) which he had.  He finally went to a doctor, did a colonoscopy and as he was finishing, noticed a flat polyp.  Bottom line, it was cancerous.

Even if this scares you, I rather you be scared and make an app't.  Rectal bleeding is nothing to dismiss.

On a bright side, they removed the polyp, the cancer was contained to the polyp so only yearly colonoscopies are in order.
The doctor told him he was very lucky to catch it in time.  

Again, I really don't want to scare you and I suspect you only have a hemorroid thing going on but wouldn't you rather be sure.

How old are you and do you have a family history of colon cancer?
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I'm 45 and have history of colon cancer in my family.
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Made mistake on last comment.  No history of colon cancer in my family.
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I can only second what Nanci has told you.  Rectal bleeding is never normal.  The best thing you can do for yourself is to make an appt. and demand a colonoscopy.  Then you will have peace of mind.  There is a good possibility that your bleeding is from hemorrhoids or a fissure.  But there is only one way to really  KNOW for sure and that is to have a colonoscopy. It could save your life! I have had two and never knew a thing.  Sedation is used and usually the procedure is a breeze.  The prep is unpleasant but well worth it all.  Now make that phone call.
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I answered your comment in haste (was waiting for the kids to get off the bus).  But I wanted to ask you, if you don't mind, if your brother had any other symptoms other than rectal bleeding. How occasional was the bleeding?  Mine was once in Feb., once in June (when I had painful hemmorhoids) and another time in August, none since. I have made an appt. with my doctor and am going to ask for a colonoscopy.  When I last saw her she thought it was IBS or possibly colitis.  She didn't think that much about the rectal bleeding, but thought it was probably hemmorhoids or the fissure, which I've had since my teens or there might be some "inflammation" there (which I assume she meant colitis).  At the time she said mine would be an unusual presentation for colon cancer.  Sorry for all the questions, but I'm pretty stressed about this at this time.  Thank you for your input.
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My brother had occassional bleeding, espeically when constipated.  He had a history of hemmorroids so he chalked it up to that.  He felt perfectly fine, no weight loss, no pain.  As far as how often he had the bleeding, I really don't know but he moved a few months ago and that's when it started to be consistent.  He thought he strained himself while moving.  And when I say consistent, it was a few days before he made an app't (thanks to my mother and his wife who pushed him to call the doctor).

The doctor told him when he released him last night from the hospital that he had an angel on his shoulder to make him go in to have it checked.  The doctor said that people typically don't see him until there is pain or other symptoms and by that time, the cancer has invaded.  So, he was very lucky.  He just turned 52.  I had my first colonoscopy when I was 50 and that's usually when one is performed as a general screening or a base.  So at age 45 with rectal bleeding, I would say it's not too soon to have a screening.

I really don't think you have anything to be concerned about but why guess or assume it's nothing but a fissue or hemmorroid or IBS.  Remember, by the time a person has consistent bleeding or pain, if it's cancer, it probably has invaded into other areas.  

Like eveningstar said, the procedure is a piece of cake, you won't feel a thing.  It's the prep that I found unpleasant but just suck it up, it's only a day and manageable.

And, we don't mind how many questions you ask - that's what this board is all about, to share experiences.
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Just thought i would let you know - I had colon cancer last year and never had rectal bleeding.  I just decided that I should have a colonoscopy because I was over 50 and two of my friends had had it done, plus the Katie Couric deal on TV got me to thinking.  Angel on my shoulder!
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What prompted you to have the colonoscopy?  Did you have symptoms?  Thanks for your comments.
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As I said, I just felt that I should, since I was over 50.  My mother had colon cancer, but she was 80 at diagnosis.  She is now 90!  I really did not feel that her diagnosis at such a late age had any bearing on my health. But I do not know if that is true or not.  I have always been interested in health matters and try to take care of myself, and always go for yearly paps and mammograms.  It just seemed like one day it dawned on me that I really should have a colonoscopy - I can't explain it.  I know the Lord was guiding me.  It was caught at an early stage.  It was like all of a sudden I thought to myself, why have I not had that screening?  As I said, I had no symptoms, no bleeding.  I think everyone should have the screening.
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Thank you for your comments, although I must say I've been rather distraught and upset about them.  I talked to my Dr. today and she still thinks it's most likely I have IBS.  She is referring me to a Gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy. It may take a few weeks but at least I'll know for sure.
  
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That's great you are going to see a gastro and get a colonoscopy set up.  I'm betting it's just your fissure and hemorrhoids causing your bleeding.  The best thing you can do for yourself is to get that colonoscopy.  Like I said, that is the only sure way to know what is going on.  Please keep us posted, and if I can give you any tips on the prep or the procedure, let me know! Hang in there!
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I just read your post (was off line since Friday).

Listen, of course you're distraught and concerned but being this way won't change what may be an issue.  But, really, seriously, I think along with eveningstar that it's something minor like a fissue.  Wouldn't you rather feel better knowing it's just that instead of worrying what it may be!

I worry about everything and I make myself a wreck before any doctor's app't.  Once my doctor told me that worrying doesn't change the outcome, it only makes us a nervous wreck and nine times out of ten, the diagnosis is not what the patient feared.  

I am going through a similar health things with my gastritis so I certainly understand how you feel but like I said, I rather see you go for a test to rule out anything serious.

Let us know how you make out
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