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  • can you have stage IV Colon cancer and NOT be anemic?

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    Old 01-22-2010, 06:56 PM   #1
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    can you have stage IV Colon cancer and NOT be anemic?

    Just curious. More tests should be done but I was told this today. All the symptoms, diarrhea/constipation for years, blood after bm, ribbon like stools, etc... strong family history. Father-Lung CA, Brother- Colon CA, Sister- Ovarian CA (all under the age of 54 when passed away) 9 other family members with cancer as well.

    I'm asking because hubby has all this going on (he's going to doc wednesday) yet his bloodwork (looking at last years) he shows to have a high RBC. I was told by a coworker it's because he is a heavy smoker and the body compensates lack of Oxygen from the smoking by producing more RBC's. Sooo come wednesday when he goes to the doc i'm afraid if he's not anemic they won't look further into this situation because he's only 39 years old. He really needs to have a colonoscopy but he absolutely won't tell the doc all the symptoms (i'm going to have to) he thinks he's just going to get his blood pressure pills renewed and do a CBC. Thank you if anyone knows.

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    Old 01-24-2010, 07:56 AM   #2
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    Re: can you have stage IV Colon cancer and NOT be anemic?


    I am sorry to hear about these symptoms in your husband. Not all colon cancers or polyps bleed and even if they do, they may not bleed all of the time. This is why the occult blood test is not necessarily a foolproof test for colon cancer but the colonscopy certainly is.

    I believe that both colon cancer and ovarian cancer are genetically related so your husband may very well have a gene that predisposes him to colon cancer. Only genetic testing would tell for sure if this is the case and if it is, this alone is grounds to have a colonoscopy at an early age. Genetics aside however, I am sure that you realize that if he is having symptoms, he definitely needs to have the colonoscopy.

    Keep in mind that if he does have a problem and it does turn out to be cancer, he may not necessarily be at stage IV. With colon cancer in the earlier stages, some people may have blatant symptoms and others won't. Sometimes anemia is the only way colon cancer is discovered and the blood in the stool may not even be visible so the person would have no way of knowing. All depends upon WHERE a tumor is located. Tumors located in the upper part of the colon can go a long time without being noticed because waste is liquid and can pass easily at this point and even if a tumor bleeds, the blood may be well mixed in with the stool and not visible except with an occult blood test. This is why some of these tumors are accidentally discovered when the person is tested for anemia. Other tumors located lower down may cause more obvious symptoms since by the time waste makes it down the colon, it has moisture taken out of it and is more solidly formed. However, not all tumours bleed a lot or even at all.

    You say that your husband has ribbon like stool. If this is caused by an obstruction then it will probably be located in the lower third of his colon. This is where stool is formed. If this is the case, even a sigmoidoscopy would uncover the problem. A sig is like a colonoscopy but it looks only at the lower third of the colon. However, a colonoscopy is strongly warranted as I am sure you must be aware. The worst thing about these tests is the prep. The actual test is not really that bad. You are not sedated for the sigmoidoscopy but you are for the colonoscopy AND if what your husband has is a bleeding polyp (some can be very large), it can be removed right then and there. You may want to explain this to your husband.

    Your husband may be skirting the issue because he is afraid of what they will find. He really needs to realize that ignoring the issue will not make it go away and eventually he will be faced with it regardless. He also needs to realize that by ignoring it he is hurting you as well as himself. Sometimes people come around when they realize that they are not the only ones to loose out in such a situation.

    I think you are right to get involved and my hat is off to you for being courageous enough to face this, even if your husband is still in denial that he has a problem. He will come around eventually and by then, perhaps you will have saved his life.

    All the best to you. Take care.


    Old 01-24-2010, 08:53 AM   #3
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    Re: can you have stage IV Colon cancer and NOT be anemic?

    Keep in mind that colonoscopy covers only the "left" side of the colon, and therefore is
    good but not foolproof. His family history is quite bad, and his smoking makes things even worse. I may be off subject here, but quitting smoking, and going through the scheduled medical procedures is probably the best option.

    Old 01-26-2010, 02:45 PM   #4
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    Re: can you have stage IV Colon cancer and NOT be anemic?

    Hi Straightguy,

    Don't you mean that the sigmoidoscopy covers only the left side ? I was under the impression that the colonoscopy looked at the entire colon: ascending (on the right), transverse (in the middle), descending and sigmoid (on the left), in addition to the rectum. This is why it is necessary to be sedated because when they "turn the corner" as they progress through the colon, it can be very uncomfortable.



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