I recently saw two nice gentlemen, one in his thirties, the other in his fifties, both very healthy and fit with the exception of one symptom -- blood in the stool. This is not an uncommon symptom, and is most commonly the result of hemorrhoids. For most folks it’s something that causes grave concern. That is, at some point it will cause grave concern. For some, that point is right away. But for others, like these gentlemen, that point is not until weeks or months.
When it comes to preventing or maintaining one’s good health, procrastination can be the determiner in whether an illness or condition is treatable or incurable. People put off things hoping it will go away, rationalizing that it’s really not serious, thinking all the time how busy they are and not having time to see about it.
The younger man was without any other symptoms. The older man though had for two weeks a decreased appetite, mild lower abdominal pain, and a five pound weight loss he attributed to being extra busy recently.
Both are achievers, and neither have jobs that involve heavy lifting. Neither had an injury, and neither of these men have hemorrhoids. Both had the painless appearance of blood in their stool and it persisted, not abating as in hemorrhoids. For one, the blood frequently seeped and soiled his underwear during his sleep.
The younger man’s colonoscopy revealed a large necrotic (dead tissue) mass about 12 inches up. The mass was large enough to prevent the scope from passing through. Biopsies were taken and revealed cancer. Surgery was recommended but on the advice of others opted to get a second opinion at Ochsners in New Orleans.
The older man’s colonoscopy is pending two weeks as he is unable to have it any sooner. The hope is it will not be a cancer and if it is that it will not have advanced outside the confines of the wall of the colon. With his history and symptoms, the odds that it will be benign are less than the odds it will be malignant.
If you the reader, or your spouse, or your significant other, is experiencing the passing of blood, a simple office exam can determine if it is something benign like internal hemorrhoids or something more serious. The longer you wait the more likely you are to handcuff the endoscopist or surgeon in being able to eradicate the problem if it should be a cancerous lesion. Many colon cancers are very curable. The less advanced a colon cancer is, the greater opportunity there is for a complete cure.
And if you are having hemorrhoids and are experiencing the wiping of blood during a bowel movement, the fact that you are continuing to see blood does not mean that the blood is assuredly coming from the hemorrhoid and not coming from something else – like a degenerating polyp, or worse, a cancer.
The best prevention for colon cancer is to eat plant-based foods and grains, and to avoid processed foods as much as possible foods.
Being busy is okay. But being busy to the point of ignoring a preventable or curable medical condition is unwise.