Terrified of bowel cancer

Posted , 5 users are following.

Hi all,

I am a 28 year old female and for the last 2 months have been feeling incredibly unwell.

I have been experiencing worsening constipation for the last 6 months or so, by having small, hard dry stools. I was still going to the toilet daily so I didn’t really think much of it.

However, 2 months ago I became incredibly constipated to the point where I was hardly passing any stool at all. To try and self treat the problem, I took over the counter laxatives which caused me to have diarrhoea. At this point I noticed a tiny amount of blood.

With my constipation becoming worse, I have also been experiencing pain in my left leg and arm. The pain is worsening, and I can only describe it as being occasionally shooting pains under the front knee area and in my left shoulder , and a dull pain in my hip and back.

I went to see my doctor and she performed a stomach and digital rectal exam, which were clear. She ordered some blood tests and my results were all normal with the exception of my white blood cell count... my neutrophil levels were 1.7 so on the slightly low side, my overall count was 3.5. I was ordered to have a retest a month later and my levels have slightly improved to 3.7.

In the last couple of days my abdomen looks swollen on the left side and the pain feels worse than ever. My stool has now become pencil thin and almost yellow in colour. I have also been feeling really lightheaded at times and sleeping more than normal. I am scaring myself that the symptoms of worsening constipation, and now pencil thin stools are signs of bowel cancer. I am an incredibly anxious person at the best of times, and in my mind I have jumped to awful conclusions that it must be bowel cancer and the arm and leg pain is some sort of secondary bone cancer.

I don’t know where to turn, I don’t feel like I’m being taken seriously and I can’t think of any logical explanations as to why I have this horrible lower leg and arm pain at the same time as strange bowel problems. It is affecting my life on a daily basis where I am crying every day because I don’t see a solution, and I’m terrified of finding out it’s something serious.

Has anyone ever experienced something like this? Is worsening constipationand narrow stool a symptom of bowel cancer?


0 likes, 4 replies

4 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi sophie58823

    Being so constipated you should check your diet are you eating enough fibre?...the narrow stool is probably the bits of faeces that can only evacuate through hard stool. Do you drink plenty of water and liquids?...you would be losing a lot if weight if it were bowel cancer and the blood you see is probably due to straining. Have you had all your vitamins and minerals checked in your blood tests? I suggest you check your diet, if it is not healthy with a fair amount of fibre and liquids start changing your diet and see if there is any change with your bowel movement....

  • Posted

    Hi Sophie 

    I had pencil thing stools and sometimes yellow and I don’t have cancer I just had a colonoscopy and all was nomal the found precancerous polyps but I’m ok . Sometimes stress can cause constipation and also diarrea . Just relax and tried not to worry too much . There is factors for cancer . I hope this help in someway 

  • Posted

    Your symptoms could be many things and not necessarily bowel cancer which is rarer for your age group.  When your doctor did a rectal exam and this was clear, this is a good sign since she obviously didn't detect any obstruction.  If she had, she would have told you and sent you for an urgent colonoscopy.

    I have had persistant constipation and narrow stools as a symptom of IBS.  I was always prone to constipation but when I suddenly got constipation that kept coming back weekly despite home remedies, constant, shifting abdominal pain with nausea and back pain which is also a symptom of IBS,  I knew something had changed and I went to my doctor. When  a urine test, stool tests, an ultrasound and a celiac test were negative, I turned to panic, terror and despair.  Strangely enough, I feared ovarian or cervical cancer rather than a bowel tumour. Some days I felt like crying, but never did.

    Three and a half months later, I was diagnosed with IBS after telling my doctor about my severe health anxiety and panic. He asked me about recent stress which I had forgotten about and when I explained I had had six months of stress before my symptoms started, he recognised IBS. 

    Ask for the tests I had and also a colonoscopy.  Yellow stools can be caused by food not being absorbed properly if you get episodes of diarrhoea.  In this case, the food goes through you too quickly, and the bile doesn't get time to disperse.  This can occur with IBS.


    It can also be a sign of gallbladder problems.  You can get pain in your shoulder blades and back pain with gallbladder trouble. The shoulder pain typically will be in your right shoulder blade because your gallbladder is on your right.  However, sometimes you can get pain between both shoulder blades or only on your left shoulder blade.

    Did you tell your doctor about the blood, this is very important.  If it was bright red, it could have been from s fissure or haemorrhoid which can come about with straining when you are constipated or when you get diarrhoea.  Tell your doctor everything; even what you think is insignificant, especially mention your severe anxiety.  I thought my anxiety was insignificant because I am often anxious but this supposedly small thing got me diagnosed.

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