You’re Seeing Blood In Your Bowel Movements
A speck of bright red blood on your TP post-wipe is likely a small hemorrhoid or harmless fissure, but if there are large amounts, or you see maroon or black-tinged blood, make a doctors appointment right away. The latter is a sign that theres bleeding further up in the colon, says Lisa Ganjhu, D.O., clinical associate professor, division of gastroenterology and liver diseases at NYU Langone Medical Center.
But blood isn’t always visible with colon cancer: Blood can also be discovered on a microscopic level through colon-cancer screening tests, says Cohen, so if you have a few other symptoms but no blood in your stool, you may still want to get checked out.
Constant Heartburn As Possible Warning Sign Of Cancer
In the UK, the Public Health England has launched a campaign to alert people about heartburn as a possible warning sign of cancer forgo the stiff upper lip approach to pain and see your doctor. PHE says stomach and esophageal cancer are the fifth most common cancers in the UK, with nearly 13,000 people diagnosed and roughly 10,000 people dying every year.
Id like to alert Americans to the issue as well.
More than 16,000 new stomach and esophageal cancer cases are diagnosed each year in the United States, and its three to four times more likely to strike men compared to women. Thats according to the American Cancer Society . Similar to the UK, American stomach and esophageal cancer cases have a survival rate of a mere 10 percent.
When Gerd Progresses To Esophageal Cancer
GERD develops when acid that digests food in the stomach washes up into the esophagus. Often it occurs in people who overeat or who lie down too soon after eating. It may also be caused by defects in the valve that connects the esophagus to the stomach or by a condition called hiatal hernia, which is when the upper part of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm and into the chest.
After someone has had GERD for many years, it can advance to a condition called Barretts esophagus. Barretts is a defensive mechanism of your esophagus, Dr. Molena explains. When the esophagus is bathed in acid all the time, it wants to protect itself, and so the cells in the lining begin to change. These changes can advance to become cancer.
When patients develop Barretts esophagus, their GERD symptoms often disappear. Its typical for patients with esophageal cancer to tell me that they suffered from GERD for years, but then it went away and they stopped taking their GERD medications, which would have actually reduced their cancer risk, Dr. Molena says.
Not everyone with GERD has the typical symptoms, which are heartburn and regurgitation soon after eating. Up to 20% may have different symptoms, such as coughing or chest pain, a sore throat or hoarse voice, or even frequent sinus infections. Its important to talk to your doctor about any of these.
Recommended Reading: What To Avoid With Heartburn
How Colon Cancer Develops
Colon cancer begins with small polyps in the intestine. When they are small, there are few if any symptoms at all. These polyps, however, can gradually mutate into cancerous cells.
There is a five year 92% survival rate if colon cancer is caught in its early stages. The rate drops if caught later. To be safe, begin having screenings at age 45 unless you have other risk factors that may warrant diagnostic testing at a younger age.
Colon Cancer Symptoms In Women
Look out for these symptoms of colon cancer in women. Keep in mind that colorectal cancer may cause no symptoms at all, especially in the early stages.
Anemia is when you have a low red blood cell count. In colon cancer, it can mean that there is internal bleeding. It’s often one of the initial signs of colorectal cancer.
You can imagine the extra layer of complexity if you are a woman. “Some female patients are told that their anemia is related to their menstrual period and that they shouldn’t worry about it,” says Dr. Suarez. That can lead to a delay in diagnosis.
If you are a woman with anemia and treatment with iron supplements does not address the issue, ask your doctor about colorectal cancer screening. There are several tests for colorectal cancer, including colonoscopy. During a colonoscopy, a doctor examines the entire colon with an endoscope, a thin, flexible instrument with a light and camera, for signs of cancer.
The first thing people think of when they notice blood in the toilet bowl or on toilet paper post-wiping is hemorrhoids, which are bulging, swollen veins in your rectum that can itch and bleed. “Rectal bleeding is not normal,” says Dr. Suarez. “It can definitely be hemorrhoids, but the only way to know for sure is by an exam.”
Change in bowel habits
Gallery: 10 Herbs That Can Help Ease Stress
Cramping or abdominal pain
Unexplained fatigue or weight loss
You May Like: Why Does Everything I Eat Give Me Heartburn
Cancer Symptoms In Men
Blood in urine or semen. A pink, brown, or red tinge to your pee or semen is usually nothing to panic over. Infections, kidney stones, injuries, and noncancerous prostate growth can all cause bleeding.
Less often, bladder or prostate cancer might be to blame. Your doctor can do urine tests and other exams to find the source of the blood.
Lump in the testicle. A painless one is a possible warning sign of testicular cancer. Yet the bump could also be from an injury, fluid buildup, or a hernia. It’s hard to tell the cause from your symptoms alone, so go to your doctor for an exam.
Pain during ejaculation or urination. If it hurts when you pee or have an orgasm, you may have an infection or swelling of your prostate gland or urethra. There’s a chance that these symptoms might be because of prostate cancer. If the pain doesn’t improve, have your doctor take a look.
Causes Of Bowel Cancer
Cancer occurs when the cells in a certain area of your body divide and multiply too rapidly. This produces a lump of tissue known as a tumour.
Most cases of bowel cancer first develop inside clumps of cells on the inner lining of the bowel. These clumps are known as polyps. However, if you develop polyps, it does not necessarily mean you will get bowel cancer.
Exactly what causes cancer to develop inside the bowel is still unknown. However, research has shown several factors may make you more likely to develop it. These factors are outlined below.
Don’t Miss: Ways To Soothe Heartburn During Pregnancy
Symptoms Of Colon Cancer
While in many cases, there are no obvious symptoms with colon cancer, there are some that can be warning signs and should be discussed with your physician. These include:
- Any major change in bowel habits
- Blood in the stool that is either bright red, black or tarry
- Unintentional weight loss
- Stools that are narrower than usual
- Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
- General abdominal discomfort, such as frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness and/or cramps
- Constant feeling of fatigue or tiredness
- New onset anemia diagnosed on routine lab work
Heartburn Drugs And Cancer Risk: What You Need To Know
Countless GERD sufferers take heartburn drugs every single day to keep the symptoms in check, but little do they know is that the medication they have been religiously taking for years may break down into a dangerous cancer-causing chemical. Earlier this year, the FDA recalled a handful of heartburn drugs including Zantac, once the worlds bestselling drug.
Don’t Miss: Foods That Help With Heartburn And Indigestion
Your Bathroom Habits Are Less Than Ideal
Everyone gets constipated occasionally, but prolonged problems pooping can indicate a blockage in the colon. Thats because at the beginning of the colon, your poop is soft and can maneuver around any obstacles in the way. As it progresses to the end of the colon, it firms up. If theres a tumor at the end of the rectum, this harder waste has a hard time getting by, says Ganju.
But it’s not just constipation: Diarrhea that lasts more than a few days should also set off warning bells as a colon cancer symptom in women, adds Ganju.
Ibs Constipation : Symptoms Diagnosis And Treatment
IBS-C stands for irritable bowel syndrome with constipation. It is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects the digestive system, especially the large intestine. It causes frequent bloating, severe abdominal pain, and infrequent stools that are hard to pass. Although IBS-C is not life-threatening, it can be extremely painful and …
Recommended Reading: What To Eat To Alleviate Heartburn
How To Spot Early Symptoms Of Colon Cancer
Now is the time to raise awareness about colorectal cancer. In the United States, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer, not including skin cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined.
According to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, on average, the lifetime risk of developing colon cancer is about one in 23 for men and one in 25 for women.
While the risk of developing colon cancer increases with age, the incidence of colon cancer is rising up to 2% annually for people under the age of 50, as well. Research conducted by the American Cancer Society has also found that people younger than age 55 developing colorectal cancer are 58% more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage disease than older adults, making curative treatment less likely for them. This dramatic rise in colon cancer incidence in younger individuals prompted the American Cancer Society to now recommend that colorectal cancer screening begin at age 45 for average risk adults.Individuals with a family history of colon cancer should speak to their physicians about beginning screening at even a younger age in some instances, based on the age their affected family members were diagnosed.
Change In Bowel Habit
Tell your GP if you have noticed any persistent and unexplained changes in your bowel habit, especially if you also have bleeding from your back passage. You may have looser poo and you may need to poo more often than normal. Or you may feel as though youre not going to the toilet often enough or you might not feel as though youre not fully emptying your bowels.
Also Check: Why Does Everything Give Me Heartburn
Noticeable Changes In Your Bowel Habits
There are several reasons why someone will notice a change in their bowel habits that are not signs of colon cancer. It could be the food you have eaten or a minor infection.
There is no standard normal for everyone, but watch out for these particular changes including black, clay-colored, deep red or white stools.
More signs include:
- Watery diarrhea for more than 24 hours
- Severe abdominal pain
In addition, if you have not passed any stools in 3 days, continue to have abdominal pain, sudden urges you are unable to control, weight loss, and very narrow stools, contact GI Solutions.
Diagnosis Screening And Monitoring
Endoscopic image of identified in sigmoid colon on screening colonoscopy in the setting of Crohns disease.Colorectal cancer can take many years to develop and early detection of colorectal cancer greatly improves the chances of a cure. Therefore, screening for the disease is recommended in individuals who are at increased risk. There are several different tests available for this purpose.
- Digital rectal exam : The doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for abnormal areas. It only detects tumors large enough to be felt in the distal part of the rectum and is not really a screening test.
- Fecal occult blood test : a test for blood in the stool.
- Sigmoidoscopy: A lighted probe is inserted into the rectum and lower colon to check for polyps and other abnormalities.
- Colonoscopy: A lighted probe called a colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and the entire colon to look for polyps and other abnormalities that may be caused by cancer. A colonoscopy has the advantage that if polyps are found during the procedure they can be immediately removed. Tissue can also be taken for biopsy.
In the United States, colonoscopy or FOBT plus sigmoidoscopy are the preferred screening options.
Other screening methods
Recommended Reading: How To Naturally Help Heartburn
Poor Digestion Linked To Stomach And Esophageal Cancer
According to both PHE and the ACS, the symptoms of stomach and esophageal cancer include poor digestion over the course of three weeks or more the feeling of food sticking in your throat whenever you swallow the loss of body weight for no apparent reason trapped wind and frequent burping nausea and vomiting, as well as stomach pain or some discomfort.
But gastroesophageal reflux disease what commonly shows up as heartburn is now considered a major warning sign. A recent ACS Gallup poll showed that 44 percent of adults in the U.S. have heartburn and poor digestion once every month, and roughly 30 percent of stomach and esophageal cancer cases can be linked to it. Its mostly characterized by a burning-type pain in the lower part of the mid-chest, behind the breastbone and in the mid-abdomen.
The Earlier The Diagnosis The Better The Treatment
Following those steps, if youre still showing signs of heartburn and poor digestion, your family doctor may suggest aggressive forms of treatment and prevention. These can include medications and other nonsurgical medical procedures, as well as laparoscopic and open surgeries, and endoscopic therapies. Routine endoscopies are especially necessary for men over the age of 50, and those who experience something more than heartburn and poor digestion, weight loss, trouble swallowing, vomiting or anemia.
The earlier that stomach and esophageal cancer are diagnosed, the more likely treatments will prove successful. People showing the early signs of these cancers should visit their family doctor straightaway so that they can receive referrals for much needed tests and medical attention.
If youre experiencing repeated heartburn, please dont delay a visit to your doctor.
Also Check: Remedies For Heartburn And Indigestion
Colon Cancer Treatments And Procedures
The three primary treatment options for colon cancer are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Treatment options for colon cancer depend on the stage of the cancer, whether the cancer has recurred and the patients overall health.
The surgical option, a partial colectomy, includes removing the affected portion of the colon. How much of the colon is removed and whether the procedure is combined with other treatments depends on the location of the cancer, how deep it has penetrated the wall of the bowel and whether it has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
In surgical treatment, the part of the colon that contains the cancer, as well as portions of healthy colon on either side, will be removed to ensure no cancer is left behind. Nearby lymph nodes will be removed and tested at the same time. Usually, the doctor is able to reconnect the healthy portions of the colon, but if that is not possible, the patient will have a temporary or permanent colostomy bag.
A colostomy bag is a device connected to the bowel that is attached to the skin discreetly under the clothing. Waste material travels into this bag which is then disposed of, and the bag is replaced as needed. Sometimes, a temporary colostomy is performed to give the bowel time to heal. It may become permanent if too much of the colon or the rectum has to be removed.
What Happens If I Have Colorectal Cancer
If you have colon or rectal cancer, treatment depends on which type of cancer it is, how big it is, and whether it has spread. Treatment may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy or immunotherapy. Many people get more than one type of treatment. Its important to talk openly with your doctor and ask questions if you dont understand something. Here is a list of questions to ask your doctor that you can take with you.
You May Like: How To Cure Heartburn Naturally
Cancer Signals In Both Men And Women
Appetite loss. Many conditions, from depression to the flu, can make you feel less hungry. Cancer can have this effect by changing your metabolism, the way your body turns food into energy.
Stomach, pancreatic, colon, and ovarian cancers also can put pressure on your stomach and make you feel too full to eat.
Blood in the stool. Cancers can bleed, but so can a bunch of other things, like ulcers, hemorrhoids, infections, or a sore. When you see red in your poop, the blood is often from somewhere in your GI tract, meaning your esophagus, stomach, or intestines.
One way to tell where the blood is coming from is by how light or dark it looks. Bright red could mean the bleeding is in your rectum or the end of your intestines. A darker color means it may be from higher up, like a stomach ulcer.
No matter what the cause, blood in your stool needs to be checked out. You may need a colonoscopy or other tests to find the problem.
Blood in the urine. When it shows up in your pee, blood could be a warning sign of a problem in your urinary tract. Kidney or bladder cancer can cause this symptom, but it could also be due to an infection, kidney stones, or kidney disease.
Cough that doesn’t go away. A cold or the flu can make you hack away, but it’s also a potential symptom of lung cancer, along with red flags like chest pain, weight loss, hoarseness, fatigue, and shortness of breath. See your doctor if you can’t seem to shake it, especially if you’re a smoker.
You Can’t Kick Your Chronic Acid Reflux
“Chronic” is the key word here, so don’t freak if you get a little burning after you load up on salsa. But, if you regularly suffer from reflux, and over-the-counter or prescription acid reducers dont seem to be making a dent, talk with your health-care provider. A tumor could be causing a blockage and increasing acid back-up, says Cohen.
You May Like: How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Heartburn