I am a twenty-year-old college student, and for the past two years, I have been experiencing some very strange symptoms. At first I began having frequent bouts of constipation, only to have diarrhea for a day or two following the constipation. This went on for about six months, and then one night after wiping, I noticed a small amount of bright red blood from my rectum. I thought that maybe I'd just wiped too hard and went on with my business. But over the next year, the symptoms did not go away. I started getting mild lower abdominal pain, the bouts of constipation and diarrhea continued, and I would experience rectal bleeding at least once a month. I also experienced anal itching and burning on some occasions. Today I would say that my symptoms are better compared with a year ago, but they have not gone away completely.I still have lower abdominal pain that is about a 3 on a scale of one to ten and occurs a couple of days out of the week. Sometimes it is tender to press on my lower abdomen--especially in the middle--and it sometimes hurts if I stretch or move a certain way. Though my bowel habits are more normal, I still have a day of very uncomfortable diarrhea at least once a month. I also sometimes find it hard to pass stool and sometimes feel like I do not completely empty my bowels. Also, my stools are also sometimes really really long , though they have never been thin like colon cancer patients have described. I still experience anal itching after I use the bathroom, and I often experience a cramping sensation in my rectum when I sit on a hard surface, such concrete, the floor, or an uncoushined chair. It only hurts when I sit down, and though the pain is very mild, I wonder if I could have something growing on the inside of my rectum. I have only had rectal bleeding once in the past six months, and that was after I had a major stomach virus and had to keep constantly wiping myself, so that could have been the reason for the bleeding. I have shared my concerns with my mother many times, but she just seems to think that I have been suffering with IBS or hemorrhoids for the past two years. Besides the bowel issues, I feel fine. I haven't experience any nausea or vomitting like people with advanced cancers often do. My appetite has not decreased any, and I have not lost or gained a single pound since I have been experiencing these symptoms. I've had low iron since I began puberty, so I have always been a little tired. I am not any more tired than usual. My stools are not discolored or especially foul smelling. You are probably wondering why I haven't received medical attention, but I guess it's because I never really considered the possibility of cancer. Though I am overweight, I am young and have never heard of anyone my age getting colon cancer. Also, I feel perfectly healthy. And if I had been suffering with untreated colon cancer for two years now, wouldn't I be dead...or at least pretty close to it? I just need some advice on what to do about my situation. I have no medical insurance, so I have avoided doctors for that reason as well. Is there anything besides colon cancer that is capable of causing these symptoms for two years? Thank you in advance for any advice!
I do think it would be a good idea to try to get some health insurance (perhaps through your college, see if you qualify for state help, etc.) so you can see an actual doctor about this and put your mind at ease.
Your symptoms sound like IBS to me, though I am not a doctor. Make sure you are getting enough sleep every night (don't stay up late, no matter how tempting) because sleep deprivation can aggravate IBS.
Be sure to each plenty of fiber-- maybe try a bowl (not huge, just the serving size on the box) of high fiber cereal every morning for a few weeks (sorry it is boring, but eating it every day has helped some people.) Stop eating it if your symptoms get worse, though! What it should do is help regulate you and prevent constipation. Drink plenty of water with the cereal and throughout the day.
BTW, if you are on any kind of prescription medication (antidepressants, birth control, etc.) that could be making the constipation worse.
A lot of people worry about cancer but at age 20, it is very very unlikely. It is much more likely to be other things (IBS, food sensitivity, etc.) that a doctor can help you figure out, so please don't worry.