Stomach pain, bloating, and other gastrointestinal issues can indicate that something is wrong, but since both colorectal cancer and irritable bowel syndrome can contribute to these symptoms, it may be difficult to pinpoint the culprit. April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month and a great time to get screened for the condition. Early screening can help you get diagnosed sooner, which allows more time and options for treatment. In this blog, the experts at Piedmont Colorectal Associates discuss irritable bowel syndrome and colorectal cancer, and what to do if you’re experiencing symptoms.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms
Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that is estimated to affect a significant portion of the world’s population. During an IBS flare-up, discomfort in the abdomen is common. The majority of people with IBS experience the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain and discomfort
- Abdominal cramping
- Changes in the frequency of bowel movements
- Bloating and gas
- Mucus present in stool
Those with IBS may experience some or all of the symptoms, which are often made worse by lifestyle factors, such as stress and diet.
Colorectal Cancer Symptoms
Colorectal cancer is also referred to as colon cancer. As with IBS, gastrointestinal distress can be a symptom of colorectal cancer, but symptoms usually appear after cancer has progressed. This is why it is important for you to have regular screenings as recommended by your doctors at Piedmont Colorectal Associates.
Colorectal cancer symptoms include:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
- Rectal bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Changes in bowel movements
It is important to note that bloody stool is more common in colorectal cancer as opposed to IBS. This is usually caused by ruptured polyps, which can become cancerous if not identified and removed.
Are You at Risk?
Your risk of colon cancer increases as you age. Other risk factors, such as a family history of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, and a high-fat or high-meat diet can all contribute to an increased risk of colon cancer.
IBS risk factors are more difficult to pin down, specifically because the exact cause of IBS is unknown. However, doctors have found that a few key factors may be linked to IBS, including stress early in life, sudden changes in gut health, infection, and intestinal muscle contractions.
Colorectal Cancer and IBS Treatment in Atlanta
Experiencing new and confusing abdominal symptoms can be scary. Before jumping to conclusions about your health, speak with your highly skilled and experienced doctor at Piedmont Colorectal Associates, who will determine the cause of your symptoms. Our top surgeons all have extensive experience diagnosing and treating a variety of gastrointestinal conditions. Schedule an appointment today.