Hemorrhoids and certain types of cancer, including colon cancer and anal cancer, can cause similar symptoms. This can lead people who have rectal bleeding or lumps in the anus to think they have cancer.
Hemorrhoids are more common than cancer and are the most likely explanation for rectal bleeding or pain. However, it is impossible for a person to self-diagnose based on symptoms alone, so it is important to speak with a doctor.
How to tell the difference between hemorrhoids and cancer.
Hemorrhoids refer to swollen veins inside the rectum and anus. They may become irritated and bleed, hurt or itch. Cancer develops because cells grow out of control. Anal cancer can cause a growth or lump in the rectum or anus, while colon cancer affects the colon and does not cause lumps or bumps that a person can feel with their hand. It is not always possible to tell the difference between cancer and hemorrhoids.
Symptoms are more likely to be due to hemorrhoids if:
– the person has risk factors for hemorrhoids, such as current pregnancy, constipation, history of straining to have a bowel movement, or history of hemorrhoids
– symptoms improve with home treatment, a higher fiber diet, sitz baths or the application of hemorrhoid creams
– the person may feel a swollen lump or bump near the anus or see a swollen vein using a mirror
– symptoms come and go but do not get progressively worse or cause other symptoms, such as weight loss
It is important to speak with a doctor about any changes in the state of health, because it is much easier to treat cancer in its early stages.
Factors that increase the risk of cancer include:
– be over 50 years old
– have a family history of cancer
– to smoke
Symptoms of hemorrhoids
Some of the symptoms that indicate the presence of hemorrhoids include
– painful itching or burning near the entrance to the rectum
– pain that gets worse after a bowel movement
– rectal irritation
– blood in the stool
Symptoms of anal cancer are similar, so it’s important to ask a doctor if there’s a growth or bleeding that won’t go away.
Anal cancer is very easy to treat, especially if diagnosed and treated at an early stage.
Colon cancer often causes no symptoms in its early stages. This is why regular colon cancer screenings are so important for your health. Here are some symptoms a person may notice:
– tarry stools
– blood in the stool
– bleeding from the rectum
– the feeling of having to use the toilet, which does not disappear after a bowel movement
– pressure or pain in the stomach
– fatigue or weakness
– a prolonged and unexplained change in bowel habits, such as frequent diarrhea or constipation
– unintentional weight loss
The causes of hemorrhoids
Anyone can get hemorrhoids, and the risk tends to increase with age. Hemorrhoids can be internal, which means the damaged vein is inside the rectum, or external, which means it is outside the rectum. Often at the entrance. Internal hemorrhoids tend to be painless, while external hemorrhoids can be painful.
A hemorrhoid occurs when a vein in the rectum becomes irritated and inflamed. It gets bigger, causing the stool to rub against it. It can be painful.
Hemorrhoids are natural. Here are some risk factors:
– pregnancy, overweight or obesity, as they put increased pressure on the rectum
– have constipation or follow a diet low in fiber
– straining to have a bowel movement
– having a sedentary lifestyle
The causes of cancer
Cancer is a complex disease with no single cause. Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of developing anal cancer, including
– have a history of human papillomavirus
– to smoke
– suffering from chronic injuries to the anus
– be over 55 years old
A person is more likely to develop colon cancer if they
– are overweight or obese
– have a family history of colon cancer
– eat a lot of fried foods
– to smoke
– drink a lot of alcohol
Genetics can also play a role. People with a family history of cancer may be more likely to develop this disease. Age also increases the risk of cancer, and most cancers are uncommon in young people.
Diagnosis of hemorrhoids and cancer
A doctor can usually diagnose hemorrhoids by doing a simple rectal exam and taking a medical history. If he finds an unusual growth that is not a hemorrhoid, he may recommend a biopsy to screen for anal cancer.
It is more difficult to diagnose colon cancer. Indeed, cancer markers do not necessarily correlate with the presence or absence of cancer. Therefore, the doctor may also recommend a test depending on the symptoms. For example, he may ask if a person has bleeding but no hemorrhoids or if treatment for hemorrhoids does not relieve their symptoms. He may perform blood tests to look for cancer markers or recommend a colonoscopy to look for growths. A colonoscopy involves inserting a thin, flexible tube into the rectum while the person is asleep or sedated. If the doctor finds a growth, they may examine it in a lab or recommend a biopsy.
Colorectal cancer risk factors. (2020).
Fontem, RF, et al. (2020). Internal hemorrhoid.
Mounsey, AL, et al. (2011). Hemorrhoids.
Tests to diagnose and stage colorectal cancer. (2020).
Zahed, R. (nd). Is it hemorrhoids or colon cancer?
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