First Straighten The Facts About Constipation:
Constipation is a really common disorder, being the most common digestive problem in US. But if you are worried for decreased frequency of passing stool as constipation, keep in mind that more than 50% of population do not pass stool once a day. In fact, 95% of adult population has the range of defecation between 3-12 stools a week.
As 3 stools a week is also considered normal. Additionally, as you age, it is more likely that the frequency of defecation decreases. So, there is no need to stress yourself out. Because, this stress can be one of the main culprits in causing constipation. However, consult your doctor, if you suspect your bowel habits getting irregular.
Expert Review And References
- Understanding chemotherapy: a guide for patients and families. American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society 2013.
- American Cancer Society. Nutrition for Children With Cancer. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society 2012.
- Constipation. American Society of Clinical Oncology . Cancer.Net. Alexandria, VA.: American Society of Clinical Oncology 2009.
- Constipation. BC Cancer Agency. Patient/Public Info. Vancouver: BC Cancer Agency 2006.
- Camp-Sorrell, D. Chemotherapy toxicities and management. Yarbro, CH, Wujcki D, & Holmes Gobel B. . Cancer Nursing: Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett 2011: 17: pp. 458-503.
- Gamulka B, SickKids Constipation Working Group. Constipation. Hospital for Sick Children. AboutKidsHealth. Toronto, ON: Hospital for Sick Children 2013.
- Hospital for Sick Children. AboutKidsHealth: Side Effects of Chemotherapy. Toronto, ON: Hospital for Sick Children 2009.
- Constipation. National Childhood Cancer Foundation & Children’s Oncology Group. CureSearch. Bethesda, MD:
- Panzarella C, Rasco-Baggott C, Comeau, M., et al. Management of disease and treatment-related complications. Baggott, C. R., Kelly, K. P., Fochtman, D. et al. Nursing Care of Children and Adolescents with Cancer. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: W. B. Saunders Company 2002: 11:279-319.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
While many people have heard that having blood in their stools may be a sign of colon cancer, just about any change in your bowel habits is worth evaluating. While you may be anxious about the possibility of having colon cancer, early diagnosis offers you the best opportunity for successful treatment. There is a possibility that something else entirely is going onsomething less serious than cancer.
Colon Cancer Healthcare Provider Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.
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Other Conditions That Cause Bleeding
Not all bleeding is caused by hemorrhoids or colon cancer. Consider the following possibilities the next time you observe blood in your stool:
Risk Factors For Colon Cancer
In addition to being aware of symptoms, you should discuss colon cancer screenings with your physician if you have any of the following risk factors:
- Having a personal history of colon or rectal cancer, adenomatous polyps, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Having a strong family history of colon or rectal cancer, or polyps, especially a first-degree relative such as a parent, sibling or child or multiple second-degree relatives
Finally, be aware that certain lifestyle factors may also increase your risk for colon cancer:
- Diets high in meat and low in fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Heavy alcohol intake
- Physical inactivity
Want to learn more about Fight Colorectal Cancer?
Simon, S. . American Cancer Society Updates Colorectal Cancer Screening Guideline. Accessed June 10, 2019.
It is important to know that the information in this post, including Sarah Cannons recommendations for screening, is accurate as of the publishing date.
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The Colon Cancer Pain Vs Ibs Pain
You may be wondering if the pain of the IBS is different from the pain of colon cancer?
To answer this question, I dug into research papers and I found a shocking fact
your abdominal pain is not the thing to worry about.
Studies found that abdominal pain is a single symptom is the least common sign of cancer colon less than 4% .
People always get worried about their abdominal pain. But abdominal pain is not a thing to worry about when coming to colon cancer Unless your pain is not typical for IBS.
Unlike IBS, abdominal pain from colon cancer attends to be:
- dull constant pain,
- usually not related to meals
While the IBS pain is:
- fluctuant colicky pain.
Systemic Symptoms Of Colorectal Cancer
Systemic colorectal cancer symptoms may impact more than the digestive tract and affect your entire body. Common systemic symptoms of colorectal cancer at all stages include:
- Unexplained loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain, bloating or cramps
- A persistent feeling that you cannot completely empty your bowels
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Do Colon Cancer Patients Always Experience Bleeding
Contrary to popular belief, colon cancer patients dont always experience rectal bleeding. This type of cancer spreads slowly and will not produce symptoms for a long time. Symptoms also vary depending on the location and progression of the disease.
One of the biggest myths surrounding colon cancer is the understanding that patients will inevitably exhibit symptoms. However, Dr. Emina Huang from the University of Michigan Medical School affirms that the most common symptom is no symptoms at all.
This is why tests like the fecal occult blood test exist. It is precisely because not all bleeding is visible to the naked eye. Tests like these look for subtle but significant signs of abnormality in your colon and liver, which can help identify colon cancer at its very early stages.
As discussed above, rectal bleeding may very well be symptomatic of other problems in your gastrointestinal system. Either way, we recommend getting screened in order to eliminate the possibilities of colon cancer.
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Changes In Bowel Habits
Changes in bowel habits that can indicate colon or rectal cancer include the following:
New-onset constipation or diarrhea
Changes in frequency or size and caliber of bowel movements
A bowel that doesnt seem to empty completely
Stool that is narrower than normal
Occasional bowel changes can be caused by a dietary change, disagreeable food or a viral/bacterial infection. However, if you are experiencing something new and unexplainedand it lasts more than a couple of dayssee your doctor.
5 Things Your Poop Can Tell You About Your Health
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Where Is The Bowel Located In The Female Body
The colon is about 5 feet long and circles the abdomen up the right side, across, and down the left side. It then descends into the lowest part of the colon, or the rectum. The rectum connects to the anus, which is the opening from which stools leave the body. The colon contracts as it moves digested food and waste.
Blood In Your Stool Bleeding From The Rectum And/or Change In The Appearance Of The Stool
One of the most disturbing symptoms of colon cancer can be bleeding from the rectum or blood in the toilet. Conditions such as hemorrhoids or fissures can also cause small amounts of blood, so if you notice blood, contact your physician and be sure to explain any other symptoms that you may be experiencing at the same time. A large amount of blood may warrant a visit to the emergency room.
The way that your stool looks can be a good indicator of what is going on inside your body. Small, hard stool is an indicator of constipation. But if you notice one of these other changes, contact your physician.
- Change in Shape. If your stool becomes thin, narrow or ribbon-like this could be an indication of changes inside your colon. Contact your health care provider to have the condition evaluated.
- Change in Color. If you notice blood in the stool, or darkened, or tarry stool this could also be an indication of changes inside the colon. Your physician can help you to determine the cause.
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The Colon Cancer Stool Vs The Ibs Stools Is There Is A Difference
The main difference between the normal IBS stools and colon cancer stool is blood.
This blood can be fresh red or dark red or even black
if you have IBS, it is impossible for your stool to have blood in it.
Whenever you experienced any type of blood in your stools regardless of you abdominal pain you should consult your doctor.
Blood in the stool occurs due to a variety of conditions, and it doesnt necessarily means you have colon cancer. The idea is not to panic from blood and not to ignore it.
Study Finds No Constipation Colon Cancer Link
By Trevor Stokes, Reuters Health
5 Min Read
NEW YORK â Long-term constipation doesnt raise risk for colon and rectal cancers according to a new analysis of the existing evidence.
Past studies had suggested a possible connection, but researchers said those results may have been skewed by poor study designs.
Someone whos got chronic constipation is unlikely to be associated with colon cancer now or in the future, said study author Dr. Alexander Ford, senior lecturer at the St. Jamess University Hospitals Leeds Gastroenterology Institute in the UK.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., with an estimated 51,000 Americans dying from it each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Established risk factors for the disease include a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, irritable bowel disease, certain syndromes that cause colon polyps, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heavy drinking, smoking and being over age 50, according to the American Cancer Society.
Some experts have hypothesized that chronic constipation, by causing prolonged contact between potentially carcinogenic substances in the stool and the lining of the colon, might also increase the risk of cancer.
Fords team found little support for a link between constipation and cancer risk, according to their findings published in the journal Gastroenterology.
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Are Your Symptoms Ibs Or Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer shares some symptoms with a less serious, but much more common disease: irritable bowel syndrome . So how do you know if your symptoms are cancer, IBS or something else?
We talked to David Richards, M.D., about the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and colorectal cancer, and what action you should take if you are experiencing either.
What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?
IBS can be hard to diagnose. Its not something a doctor can see, feel or detect under a microscope, and the symptoms come and go. The main symptoms of IBS are constipation, diarrhea or a combination of the two, accompanied by abdominal pain.
Someone with IBS may also experience one or more of the following:
- Abdominal bloating
- The feeling that you havent finished a bowel movement
- Relief of symptoms after a bowel movement
You can gauge whether these are IBS symptoms based on how long youve had them. The symptoms have to go back at least six months, with at least one day a week of pain in the last three months, Richards says.
What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?
Diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain are all symptoms of colorectal cancer. However, there are additional symptoms that are more concerning.
Sudden and unexplained weight loss, rectal bleeding or blood in the stool are all cause for concern, says Richards.
Other colorectal cancer symptoms include:
I would be especially concerned if these symptoms came on suddenly, says Richards.
Constipation And The Colon
The colon is one of the most overlooked areas of the human body because it is not exactly one of the most glamorous topics of discussion on a daily basis. The colon however is vitally important to the health of people all across the globe. If the colon is not healthy then a person can suffer from a variety of different problems including but not limited to constipation, colon cancer, and diarrhea. Now, sometimes, constipation and diarrhea are directed correlated with colon cancer. A change in ones bowel movement is a sign of colon cancer but it could also be the sign of constipation. Constipation can happen to anyone, especially if they are not eating the correct things each day. On the other hand, constipation could be happening as a result of the colon being blocked by a cancerous tumor. If a person cannot rid themselves of constipation after a week or so they should consult their physician to rule out any serious medical condition such as colorectal cancer.
Constipation usually happens when the colon takes in too much water from the food that a person ingests during the day. This happens when the food moves through the gastro-intestinal tract too slowly, and results in feces that are too hard and dry. It may be extremely painful to have a bowel movement when constipated. The most serious of cases, known as obstipation, occurs when the person cannot have a bowel movement and cannot pass gas.
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Does Regular Constipation Cause Colon Cancer
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Long Term Use Of Laxatives
Laxatives and stool softeners are medicines for constipation. You can often buy these over the counter without a prescription. But it is very important to use them properly.
Taking laxatives regularly over a long period of time can make the bowel become lazy and not work properly. They can also damage the nerve cells in the bowel making it difficult for you to push stools out.
Always let your doctor know when you take drugs to help your bowels. You might not actually need them and there are other ways of helping you to have regular bowel motions. For example, changing your diet, drinking more liquid or increasing the amount of exercise you do.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer might not cause symptoms right away. In fact, many of the symptoms of colorectal cancer can also be caused by other problems, such as infection, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease.
It’s important to get checked if you have any of following problems. In many cases, people who have these symptoms do not have cancer. But you should talk to your doctor if you have any of them so the cause can be found and treated.
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by having one
- Rectal bleeding with bright red blood
- Blood in the stool, which might make it look dark brown or black
- Cramping or abdominal pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Losing weight without trying
Often colorectal cancer doesnt cause symptoms until it has grown or spread. Thats why its best to be tested for colorectal cancer before ever having any symptoms. Colorectal cancer thats found early through screening, before you have symptoms, might be easier to treat. Screening can even prevent some colorectal cancers by finding and removing pre-cancerous growths called polyps.
Side Effects From Other Medicines
Constipation can be a side effect of many types of drugs. Some of these drugs help control cancer symptoms or reduce side effects from treatments.
Your doctor or nurse will also prescribe medicine to help prevent constipation.
The most common drugs to cause constipation in people with cancer are:
- painkillers, especially morphine based drugs
- anti sickness medicines
Other drugs that can cause constipation are:
- some blood pressure medicines
- vitamin supplements, such as iron and calcium
- drugs to stop fits
- drugs for Parkinsons disease
- drugs to make you pass urine
- some medicines for indigestion
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Can Ibs Lead To Colon Cancer
IBS, with all its discomforts and inconveniences, doesnt cause damage to your digestive tract or lead to other health problems.
A 2010 trial found that when undergoing colonoscopy, people with IBS were no more likely to have structural abnormalities of the colon than healthy people.
They also found that people with IBS are at no greater risk of precancerous polyps or colon cancer.
Seek the advice of a doctor if you have any concerns about abdominal discomfort or changes in bowel habits. Symptoms of IBS can also indicate a variety of other conditions, including colon cancer.
Other signs that you should see a doctor right away include:
- persistent abdominal pain
- weight loss
Having IBS doesnt increase your risk of colon cancer, but that doesnt mean you should ignore symptoms. To be on the safe side, tell your doctor about new symptoms such as rectal bleeding, narrowed stool, or weight loss.
Talk to your doctor about colon cancer screening. For most people, colonoscopy screening should begin at age 50.
If you have a family history of colon cancer or other risk factors, your doctor may recommend earlier or more frequent screening.