Beware: Is It Rectal Cancer or Hemorrhoids?Jinan Zhang, TCMD, CMD February 1, 2014
Early Detection Can Spot the Difference
During our years of clinical practice at the North American International Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment Centre, we have found that there is often confusion among patients about the difference between hemorrhoids and rectal cancer. This confusion is understandable because the symptoms of hemorrhoids and early rectal cancer are similar.
Since each condition requires a completely different treatment program, we feel it is important that people learn to tell the difference between the two conditions through education, self examination, and a visit to our clinic.
One major symptom of rectal cancer is a malignant tumour which forms in the tissues of the rectum. Other symptoms of rectal cancer include:
- Anal tenesmus (the feeling of constantly needing to pass stools, even if one’s bowels are already empty);
- Stools that are not round in shape;
- There is blood in the stool;
- Bowel habits change (diarrhea, constipation);
- Weight loss and fatigue.
Advanced symptoms of rectal cancer include an increase in pain, and inguinal lymph nodes tumescence; which often becomes life-threatening liver cancer.
Rectal cancers occur mainly in people over 40, who often have certain hereditary conditions, such as familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer. The incidences of rectal cancer are second only to gastric cancer.
To inspect yourself for the presence of rectal cancer, use the following simple method: A finger is inserted into the anus; if the finger detects a hard surface or a bumpy mass, it could be rectal cancer. Eighty percent of digital rectal examinations can provide early detection of rectal cancer.
If rectal cancer is detected early, prompt intervention with traditional Chinese medicine can stop the progress of the cancer.
Hemorrhoids are swollen tissues located in the wall of the rectum and anus, which contain veins. Typically they can become inflamed, develop a blood clot or benign tumor, or become enlarged and protrude (which is very uncomfortable). If they stay inside the anus they are called internal hemorrhoids. Those that protrude outside the anus are called external hemorrhoids.
According to TCM theory, the development of hemorrhoids has three stages:
- Small hemorrhoids which do not protrude outside the anus, fresh bleeding upon defecation;
- Hemorrhoids protrude from the anus with bleeding, although the tissue retracts into the sphincter within a short period of time;
- Large protruding hemorrhoids that bleed and require physical pushing to place back into the interior of the anus. They may exit the body when coughing, sneezing, laughing, or when standing for a long period of time.
Hemorrhoids are believed to be caused by a stressful lifestyle and habits, spicy food, sedentary work, lack of exercise, constipation causing repeated straining, as well as pregnancy. The most common symptoms of hemorrhoids are bleeding stools accompanied by pain. In more advanced cases, the person may experience recurrent seizures, prolonged bleeding resulting in systemic symptoms of anemia, a frail, thready, and weak pulse, anal spasm, infection, inflammation, increased pain, ulceration, severe or abnormal pain, and discomfort when sitting and laying down. Prolapsed hemorrhoids produce external anal mucus, itching around the anus, and other symptoms.
There is a high incidence of hemorrhoids in the North American population, making them a common condition. Because the symptoms of hemorrhoids and the early stages of rectal cancer are similar, and can be easily confused or misdiagnosed, we recommend early examinations for accurate detection.
The North American International Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment Centre (N.A.I. TCM) uses natural traditional herbal remedies and professional treatment for a variety of hemorrhoids without surgery, pain or bleeding.