Do narrow stools have you fearful of colon cancer, even though you’ve been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
If narrow or thin stools are common with IBS, then this may certainly provide more peace of mind in the person already diagnosed with this aggravating condition.
I consulted with Pejman Katiraei, DO, FAAP, an integrative physician whose many areas of specialty include adult and pediatric IBS.
Dr. Katiraei explains, “Narrow stools can be common with IBS, and they may be very difficult to differentiate from colon cancer.
“Depending on what is happening to a person’s gastrointestinal tract, a person suffering from IBS can have everything from severe constipation to watery diarrhea.
“As such, there is no specific type of stool that would allow a person to know they have IBS over deadly conditions like the early stages of inflammatory bowel disease or even colon cancer.”
If you’ve already been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (and the diagnosis should have been made after an entire battery of tests ruled out other possible causes of your GI distress such as colon cancer), then you can conclude that the presence of narrow or skinny stools is most likely a part of having irritable bowel syndrome.
However, Dr. Katiraei adds, “I would strongly encourage people suffering from gastrointestinal problems to be evaluated by a medical professional. Simple blood and stool testing can give important information that can be life-saving.”
So assuming, then, you’ve already been cleared of colon cancer, and have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, there is one critical element you must never forget:
Just because you’ve been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, doesn’t mean that you’ll never get colon cancer!
A person with irritable bowel syndrome can still develop colon cancer, so get to know your IBS presentations very carefully and meticulously.
After all, the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer strongly overlap and are virtually identical.
- Have your apparent IBS symptoms changed lately?
- Have you always had narrow stools, or are narrow stools only a recent occurrence after having irritable bowel syndrome for years?
- Is there suddenly blood in your stools?
- Have you had IBS for years, and are now suddenly losing weight for no reason?
- Unexplained weight loss can also mean diabetes or overactive thyroid; get a thorough medical exam.
- Do you have any other new symptoms that don’t seem to fit the bill for irritable bowel syndrome?
If you’re in doubt, then get another evaluation by your doctor. Don’t assume you can’t have colon cancer because you have IBS.
Irritable bowel syndrome cannot morph into colon cancer, but a benign and malignant disease of the GI tract can exist simultaneously in the same person.