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Avatar universal

Colon Cancer?

My girlfriend is not a native English speaker, so I am posting this for her. However, it seems that I'm the one most worried!

Ever since she was really young, she has had general constipation and occasional bloody stools. She regularly has mild abdominal pain and an upset stomach after eating sometimes. She is typically never inexplicably fatigued and is experiencing no weight loss at this point. She typically never complains of abdominal pain, but she frequently rubs her abdominal area in attempt to soothe it and explains that it hurts. Lately, she feels that something is "poking" her intestines. She had an appointment with a Gastroenterologist and she is now taking medication typically used for IBS. She has a follow-up appointment coming up in which case they're likely to schedule a colonoscopy.

I'm nothing close to a doctor, but with all the resources available nowadays, I've been doing a lot of research. The only thing I can see match up somewhat well with the symptoms is colon cancer. Chron's disease may be possible, but it's rare, and people typically haven't heard of it outside of the US. She has seen a doctor in her native country about this a few years ago, and he examined some of her bloody stool and said it's nothing major. However, I'm not so sure.

If someone could shed some light as to what could be causing her symptoms, that would be great. Thanks so much.
6 Responses
Avatar universal
I forgot to mention that she frequently feels bloated after eating and has small burps for about 30 minutes.
Avatar universal

Blood in the stools is never normal and should always be investigated immediately - probably a colonoscopy is the most conclusive test if you are worried about colon cancer.  There are of course many less ominous outcomes and medical conclusions.

If your girlfriend is unfortunate and has developed colon cancer then surgery is probably the most likely treatment and this should be carried out as soon as possible.  Two of my family (on my wife's side) eventually died from colon cancer which had spread - although, with hindsight, they had ample prior warning and might well have survived if medical intervention had been sought sooner - who knows....??.

Just so that you know my background - I had a total colectomy for torrential diverticular bleeding four years ago at the age of 58.

I really hope that the diagnosis turns out to be non-serious and that all will go well for you both.

Good luck
Morecambe
Avatar universal
Morecambe,

Thanks very much for your insight. After I heard that she's been having bloody stools for this long of a time period, you can imagine my surprise after hearing not much has been done about it.

I often worry about the worst case senario, and, in this case, it's colon cancer. From what I know, intestinal diseases have very similiar symptoms and only tests like a colonoscopy can reveal true answers.

Do you, or anybody else, know if weight loss, fatigue, and vomiting are necessary for having colon cancer? As of now, nothing of the sort is happening with her, thankfully.

I value that you share your experiances and knowledge with others after having a unfortunate experiance yourself. I hope that you can help many others that face similiar situations.

Good luck, and thank you for sharing.
Avatar universal
Colonoscopy is really needed at this point. Hopefully it will reveal a site of bleeding. Biopsy - a sample of intestinal tisue will probably be taken for microscopic investigation - to find an exact cause.

Colon cancer is extremely rare in young people, it typically appears after age of 50. There is one hereditary colon cancer which runs in families, though. It starts in childhod as multiple tumors (polyps), which grow and start to cause problems in adolescence or later. Occasional constipation, mucus or blood in the stool can be found. One or more of these polyps usually develop into cancer late - but rarely before age of 30.

It could be one single polyp.

It could be Crohn's disease or Ulcerative colitis (both known as inflammatory bowel disease - IBD). Disease is known worldwide, and there's no point to rely on statistics here.

All above mentioned can be diagnosed with colonoscopy. Arrange it soon, and insist to do it. There's nothing much to do or guess before that.  
Avatar universal
Boron,

Thanks for your insight. Hopefully, the problem will be as simple as one or more polyps. There is no history of colon cancer in her family.

After they are removed, when should she start and how often would you recommend colonoscopy examinations to screen for polyps and cancer on a regular basis?

Thanks again.
Avatar universal
There is really a lot experience about colon polyps, cancer, colonoscopy and related tests, so there are exact schedules made for each particular bowel disease, stage, age etc. Doctor has first to make a diagnosis, and then he/she will determine the schedule of eventual further colonoscopies or other investigations (if needed).

Before colonoscopy, doctor will probably want to do plain abdominal X-ray and upper and/or lower GI, this is a term for X-ray of upper gut and lower gut, using a barium enema, which is radioopaque and can provide an image of rough changes in the intestinal wall.

And of course stool investigation and blood investigation is done practically in any disease. If you're both worried about all this, you can ask the doctor about predicted investigations, so you'll know what to expect. For colonoscopy there is colon cleanse needed, a couple of days of fasting, and the colonoscopy is made under slight sedation, no anesthesia is needed, it's not painfull.

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