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Colorectal Diseases

Short narrow stool size

04/21/2008

Question:

Hello,

Last couple of weeks, my bowel habit has been erratic. I`ve changed my diet in those 2 weeks to include more fiber, and cutting down on dairy and meat. My diet mostly consist of high fiber cereals, vegetables and fruits (eating an apple a day with other fruits) I think my fiber intake is around 25g or more.

My stool is sometimes very soft, very short and size of my finger. They are always in pieces, not in long bulky stool. I can`t seem to achieve normal big/soft stool. I was suffering from hemorrhoids in the first week, but I don`t think this is the cause anymore as it is much better now (no pain/no swelling anymore for this week).

Do you think I will settle back into my normal bowel habit once my body gets used to increased fiber intake? Or is this something more serious? I`m 37 year old female. My doctor thinks I`m too young for colon cancer, so she wants to wait another month or so to see things will get better. I`m sick of worry though. Any advice will be very helpful.

Thank you.

Answer:

A 37 year-old is certainly not too young to have colon cancer, even thought the risk is much lower than than that of a 65 year-old. That being said, the change in your bowel habits is more likely related to a change in your diet. If you are bleeding, feeling bloated, having abdominal pain, decreased appetite- symptoms associated with many things including colorectal cancer- then insist on an evaluation to see what is going on.

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Response by:

Janice Frederick Rafferty, MD Janice Frederick Rafferty, MD
Professor of Surgery
Chief of Colorectal Surgery Division
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati