How Can I Tell if I have IBS or Colon Cancer?



April is IBS Awareness Month. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can have symptoms similar to colon cancer, so it is important to know the symptoms of GI conditions and visit your doctor in a timely manner to have those symptoms evaluated.

IBS affects 10-15 percent of the population, and up to 45 million Americans live with this GI condition. This disorder is usually characterized by abdominal discomfort and changes in bowel habits like chronic diarrhea, constipation or both.

Similarities between IBS and colon cancer

GI distress can be embarrassing and confusing. Sometimes knowing how long you should wait before calling a doctor is difficult. IBS symptoms can mimic other digestive problems like colorectal cancer. They can share similar symptoms and warning signs, such as the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Constipation
  • Bloating

You should not dismiss your symptoms or try to diagnose yourself. Instead, you may need a colon cancer screening to exclude colon cancer. Colonoscopy is the best colon cancer screening test because your doctor can view the entire colon and remove precancerous lesions, called polyps, during the exam.

Adults at average risk for colon cancer should get a baseline screening at 45, but those with a family or personal history of polyps may need to get screened sooner.

Find a gastroenterologist near you

Do you have recurrent abdominal pain and bowel problems? The first step is to call your doctor. If you are looking for a fellowship-trained gastroenterologist, we can help you find a doctor at one of our colon cancer screening centers. Don’t live another day with GI distress. Call today to make an appointment.