The symptoms of bowel cancer and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often get confused by many – often leading one to think that a different disease may be present than actually is. However, the symptoms are clear between the diseases when properly understood by an individual who maybe suffering from one or another.
Bowel Cancer (colorectal cancer, or colon cancer) – is basically any form of cancer that affects the colon (large bowel), or rectum (back-passage) – usually very slow-growing (10 years) before metastasis (spread) becomes apparent, and often starts as benign (non-cancerous) growths (polyps) that are present on the bowel wall.
Polyps are small growth like spots on stalks (most produce no symptoms at all) that become more prevalent as an individual gets older (most polyps are non-cancerous; however, one type, an “adenoma” can become cancerous ([malignant] when left undetected, its cells can multiply to form a tumor in the bowel which causes pain and bleeding).
Symptoms of bowel cancer may include:
- Abdominal pains (gripping, but usually not chronic).
- Anal bleeding and pain – loose stool (often containing blood [sometimes constipation – feeling the need to strain when not necessary]).
- A right-hand-sided lump in the back-passage or abdomen.
- Sensation of being bloated.
Further growth in the bowel wall and back-passage gives cancer cells the ability to travel into the bloodstream or the lymph node system – thus contaminating other organs in the body (the liver and lungs being the most common [metastasis]).
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – is a digestive disorder that a large part of the population suffers from (estimated to be around 15%); however, because of it being such a delicate (embarrassing) illness – is little spoken of. Although, IBS offers similar symptoms to bowel cancer.
Symptoms of IBS may include:
- Chronic abdominal pains.
- Major disturbances within the functioning process of the bowel (diarrhea at a moments notice [up to 3-time a day] and often preceded by constipation), chronic constipation 3-times a week [sometimes alternating between the two], and mucus in the stool).
- Anxiety or depression.
- Back aches.
- Heart fluttering (palpitations – sensations of heart beat-skips).
- Insomnia (problems getting to sleep).
- Sexual problems (pains during sex or a reduced sexual desire).
- Unpleasant tastes in the mouth.
- Urinary problems (a frequent or urgent need to urinate, trouble starting to urinate, or trouble emptying the bladder).
IBS involves the malfunction of how the intestinal system works (a functional disorder that does not show in any visible disease process or tissue damage [it is more of a bowel interference]).
Note: Symptoms given for both bowel cancer and IBS include possible secondary symptoms – and where both illnesses may affect an individual in different ways.