Do your poops seem to have a lot of stickiness or goopy mucus in them?
Do you wonder if colon cancer can cause sticky slimy stools in addition to the more commonly publicized bloody or “tarry” stools?
First off, some mucus is normal, and the amount will vary with one bowel movement to the next, and can be influenced by diet.
Mucus, which can resemble a slimy substance, helps move stool through the colon.
Feces, by nature, have some degree of stickiness. If you set a piece of softly formed stool on a paper plate, then remove it, residue will remain on the plate. You may or may not see mucus.
“Mucus in stool can cause bowel movements to seem sticky,” says Benjamin Levy, MD, board certified gastroenterologist who provides clinical care to patients at Mount Sinai Hospital, Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital, and Sinai Medical Group Touhy Refugee Clinic.
But Can Cancer Cause Sticky Feces or a Lot of Mucus?
Dr. Levy explains, “This may indicate an underlying medical problem such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, malabsorption, a parasitic infection, a bacterial infection, irritable bowel syndrome, a fistula (abnormal connection between the bowel and a different area of the body), and even colon cancer.”
You should note, however, that colon cancer is at the bottom of the list for possible causes. In fact, when it comes to colon cancer, the features of bowel movements to be on the lookout for are:
- Signs of blood in the stool (gobs or clots of red or maroon).
- What looks like hot tar (gooey black substance) intermingled with the stools.
- BM’s that come out in the shape of pencils or flat thin ribbons.
- Days of unexplained diarrhea alternating with days of straining to get out very hard poops or alternating with many days without any bowel movement at all.
If you notice a lot of mucus recurring in your bowel movements, or they appear sticky, do not panic and fear it’s likely colon cancer. However, if it keeps up, don’t ignore it, either.
Dr. Levy says, “If someone experiences persistent mucous in their stool, I would recommend that they seek medical attention for a proper work-up.”
Dr. Levy’s research and clinical projects focus on health care disparities, GERD, the early detection of pancreatic cancer and the development of colon cancer screening campaigns.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.