Tuesday, November 17, 2009 T, Community Member, asks

Q: How can you tell the difference between IBS and colon cancer?

I am a 31 year old female and mother of 4. For a about 4 days I have been bloated, had gas, constipated and have had diarreha; I have cramps and the feeling during a bowel movement of pressure, but no blood. The only blood I see is from me wiping and it is pink light spots more like irritation from all the  wiping. I've been told I was lactose intolerent and I had IBS (never dignosed) for about three days almost 2 years ago but it was not this intense where I have to pull over or stop to use the bathroom and it did not last this long. I am getting scared, I have been under alot of stress lately and I do have a sleeping disorder; and I have also gained weight before this started.

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Answers (1)
Elizabeth Roberts, Health Guide
11/17/09 4:04pm

Hi T,


IBS can cause all of the problems/symptoms that you describe. IBS symptoms can be severe or minor disturbances. Food can cause issues for some with IBS. And stress can be a major factor for many with IBS. Irritiable Bowel Syndrome is a diagnosis made after all other GI disorders have been ruled out. You may want to read my Sharepost about IBS - http://www.healthcentral.com/ibd/c/2623/90943/ibs.


Stress and diet, not colon cancer, are the most common reasons people tend to have GI distress. If you haven't seen a GI doctor then you probably should if this is affecting your day-to-day life.


You also may want to keep a food diary where you write down everything you eat and drink, how you feel afterwards, etc. Keep this journal for at least 2 weeks, a month is even better, and you may actually see a pattern of what you eat, or when you eat, and when your gut acts up. You may have a food intolerance that is causing problems. Or, you may be eating too much at one meal.


GI problems are not easy to diagnose, and even after you get a diagnosis solving the problem is not straight forward either. This is why I think looking at your diet and stress levels and learning how to reduce stress - yoga, light exercise, meditation - are good first places to start.


Hope this helps,


T, Community Member
11/17/09 5:19pm

Thank-you for answering; Today I notice when I eat certain foods I can feel it cramping up and before I finish I have to use the bathroom. I also think this has caused hemrroids and it is uncomfortable to sit, I'll make a doctor's appointment in the morning. Thanks again. I notice you  said you have IBD, is that different from IBS; the symtoms seem the same.

Elizabeth Roberts, Health Guide
11/17/09 7:41pm

IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, while IBD stands for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. They are not the same illness. You can read about them in my Sharepost here http://www.healthcentral.com/ibd/c/2623/66985/ibd-ibs-thing



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By T, Community Member— Last Modified: 03/07/12, First Published: 11/17/09