People with a feeling that something is wrong with their digestive system, especially if it is a pain or other symptoms should get checked out by their doctor, says Dr. Sanjoy Mandal, the best cancer surgeon in Kolkata. One explanation can be that they have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is a common diagnosis that covers a variety of digestion-related ailments, many of which can be corrected through diet changes. But, the symptoms can also be a sign of something more serious, such as colorectal cancer.


There’s no sure way to distinguish between IBS and colorectal cancer as they both include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty swallowing

IBS vs. colon cancer: Symptoms and diagnosis

All the symptoms above are put together to become a spectrum of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. It can take a visit to the doctor and some follow-up tests, including a colonoscopy, to determine whether it’s something more serious, says the onco surgeon in Kolkata.

Symptoms like losing weight, which is not explained by any other reason, or starting to see some blood in the stool, don’t rule out IBS as the culprit. But they raise the possibility that something else may be going on. Other possible red flags for colorectal cancer include:

  • Vomiting
  • A sense that the bowel is not emptied
  • Stools that are narrower than usual
  • Frequent gas pains
  • A feeling that you’re full 
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Anemia from blood loss

Similar signs for other cancers

According to the laparoscopic surgeon in Kolkata, colon and rectal cancer are not the only cancers that share signs of IBS. Other gastrointestinal cancers, including stomach, esophageal and pancreatic cancer, also cause similar symptoms. But colorectal cancer is a particular problem because it’s the most typical gastrointestinal cancer. It is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women. Colorectal cancer may not always have signs when it forms. It can begin with small growths called polyps on the lining of the intestines that can turn cancerous.

Colon cancer risk factors

Many aspects, including some that are out of control, can put people at higher risk of colorectal cancer, such as:

  • Have a family history of colorectal cancer
  • Are of age 50 or older
  • Are overweight
  • Have diabetes
  • Have a history of colon cancer
  • Smoke tobacco
  • Drink moderately to heavy amounts of alcohol
  • Eat a high-fat diet and a lot of processed or red meat
  • Have been exposed to radiation in the abdominal area, such as from previous cancer treatments

If you have been diagnosed with colon cancer or feel you are at risk of it, consult Dr. Sanjoy Mandal, the best cancer surgeon in Kolkata.