- Hi - I’m new here, and very worried about bowel cancer.
I am a 72-yr-old woman with a long history of digestive issues - IBS (diagnosed in my 20s with “spastic colon”), constipation (made worse by long-term antidepressants) and GERD/reflux. Recently - about 2 months ago - I had what I thought was an IBS flare-up - cramps, loose yellow stools, bloating, nausea, low-grade fever. I had blood tests which showed raised white count and inflammation. The GP said it was an infection, sent me home with antispasmodics, said to rest and come back if it got worse. It slowly got better, and follow-up blood tests (including a CA125 test) were ok. But the lower abdominal discomfort never went away completely, nor did the nausea. Over the past couple of weeks the pain and nausea started getting worse, so I went back to the GP. She did a manual exam of my abdomen and when she got to the tender part, she said “That’s your hernia!” (I have bilateral inguinal hernias, both very small.) She referred me for a pelvic ultrasound, as well as more blood tests (for liver enzymes and ferritin), and for a FIT stool test, apparently much more sensitive than the bowel screening test you get in the post (those have always come back clear). This afternoon I got a phone call from a nurse in the colorectal dept of the hospital, saying the results of the stool test were abnormal - there was a “high level” of blood found (which was not visible when I took the sample). I asked her how high? She said that normal was 100 or below (100 what? She didn’t explain), and my test was at 265. At those levels, she said, we need to test for bowel cancer - we consider it urgent, so you’ll need to come in for a colonoscopy in the next 2 weeks.
i have struggled with health anxiety all my life - so this phone call has completely poleaxed me. I’m terrified. I’ve never received test results via a phone call before, so I immediately assumed I’m dying. I did ask her if the blood could indicate anything other than cancer, and she mentioned diverticular disease and polyps, but she seemed very focused on cancer. She also asked about other symptoms - abdominal pain, nausea, bloating, decreased appetite... check, check, check. As I said, I’m terrified.
My colonoscopy is scheduled for next Tuesday. It’s now Thursday night, and I’m wondering how I’ll get through the next 4 days without going mad with worry. What I’d really like to know is statistically, how often does that level of blood in a FIT test turn out to be cancer? Is diverticulitis more or less likely with my symptoms? I know I won’t know anything for sure till I have the test, but any advice or words of wisdom would be so appreciated.