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Digestive Disorders

Changes in Bowel

06/04/2009

Question:

About 5 years ago I had a colonoscopy. This was due to my being over 50 (I was 52 at the time) and my mother had a benign growth in her colon late in life (contracted at age 80 a few months before she passed away) that had to be operated on.

Except for diverticulitis/pockets seen during the colonoscopy there were no polyps. I was told everying is fine and to then return in 5 years. Last fall I experienced a painful constipation lasting several days that finally went away with some over the counter medication recommendations from my doctor. Since then I still have hemorrhoids that occasionally leave blood on the tissue when wiping. I have a small amount of fecal "ooze" that is slight but I can feel it and then have to wipe the trace amounts again in the bathroom. Most important, my stool diameter is much smaller the past several months and occasionally ribbon-like.

My question is, even though nothing was found 5 years ago during my colonoscopy, could I still have cancer given what I told you above? I plan to have another colonoscopy in the fall but will accelerate it if this sounds like a problem. And if it is a problem, since I was fine with my colonoscopy 5 years ago, would this be an early form of disease or could it be more advanced? I look forward to your reply. Thanks.

Answer:

Since you're due for colonoscopy soon anyway, I would recommend getting one done soon given your symptoms and family history.

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Response by:

Gregory S Cooper, MD Gregory S Cooper, MD
Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University