Can IBS Cause Positive Cologuard Test?

Medically Reviewed by: Nicole Anne Vergara, RD

Irritable bowel syndrome, is a less severe but much more prevalent condition, compared to colorectal. However, it is a known fact that both conditions can have similar signs and symptoms. How can you determine whether cancer, IBS, or anything else is causing your symptoms?

It is simple to mix up the symptoms of colon cancer with those of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which affects many other gastric and intestinal conditions. Knowing the difference between IBS and colon cancer symptoms. It can also help you avoid a lot of stress and, more significantly, can help your doctor determine what kind of therapy you might require to get your life back to normal.

In this article, we will talk about the similarities and differences of IBS and colorectal cancer symptoms, and how IBS may or may not affect your colorectal cancer test.

What are the signs and symptoms of IBS?

Patients diagnosed with IBS can have varied symptoms and it is important to rule out which ones happens more frequently to you. 

Common Symptoms of IBS:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Distention
  • Feeling constantly full
  • Flatulence
  • Changes in bowel habits

Other Symptoms:

  • Lack of energy
  • Heartburn
  • Always feeling sick
  • Muscle pains
  • Dizziness
  • Painful menstruation

What are the signs and symptoms of colon cancer?

Colon cancer symptoms like diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain are also symptoms of IBS. However, there are much more serious symptoms to be concerned about if you are suspected to have colon cancer:

  • Constant straining during bowel movement
  • Changes in the size or shape of the stool (narrow stools)
  • Fatigue
  • Urges in having a bowel movement even if it’s not necessary
  • Bloating
  • Constantly feeling full
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Rectal bleeding

If these signs and symptoms happened so suddlenly, you should go straight to the doctor to get yourself checked.

What is a Cologuard Test?

Cologuard is a non-invasive screening test for colorectal cancer. Patients can do the stool collection at home, and bring it back to the laboratory for analysis. 

Can IBS Cause Positive Cologuard Test?

Yes, in some cases, IBS may cause a positive Cologuard Test especially when the stool is collected with diarrhea. This test also has risks of getting false positives and false negative results, so further testing like colonoscopy is needed to assess the presence of cancerous tumors.

Can IBS affect your cancer risk?

Fortunately, IBS does not affect your risk of getting colorectal cancer or any other types of cancer. Unlike Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), IBS dies not cause any inflammation, which is one of the major factors of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

Don’t Ignore Your Signs and Symptoms

Just because IBS does not increase your risk of getting colorectal cancer, it can mask the signs and symptoms of cancer. We mentioned that both conditions can have similar signs, and you should never ignore these signs.

If you’re currently diagnosed with IBS, you should not ignore the warning signs that you may see. Some patients who have IBS-C can think that their rectal bleeding might be due to the flare-up, but this is not always the case. 

What should cancer patients know about IBS?

Many cancer therapies might cause stomach problems. Traditional chemotherapy, for instance, has an impact on any cells that divide quickly, including those in the GI tract. Therefore, experiencing abdominal pain and blood in the stool is typical.

Speak with your doctor about possible side effects and how to handle probable GI side effects if you are undergoing cancer treatment or are about to begin it.

Need Help With Your IBS?

Casa De Sante provides integrated care plans to help people manage their IBS symptoms effectively.. Our team of dietitians, health coaches and GI experts commits to provide you with a holistic lifestyle change to improve not just your IBS symptoms, but also your entire health and well-being.

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