A vendor in Greater Taichung who had a hemorrhoidectomy half a year ago, thinking it was the cause of his irregular bowel movement, was later diagnosed with stage two rectal cancer and underwent treatment in time.
Chiu Hsi-hsiung (邱錫雄) of Cheng Ching Hospital’s division of colorectal surgery said the 45-year-old man had his hemorrhoid removed by surgery in the hope of ridding himself of pain when he frequented the restroom. However, as his condition failed to improve, he was referred to the hospital’s colorectal department.
Hemorrhoids are veins in the anus and lower rectum that have become swollen or inflamed. Some can be treated simply through an increase of fiber intake, fluids and rest. Surgery is an option for severe cases.
Chiu said that based on an initial exam, the man appeared to have a large tumor in his rectum. This was confirmed by a CT scan of the area, showing the presence of a malignant tumor 10cm wide.
Chiu said the man likely suffered from irregular bowel movement because of complications from rectal cancer, though the presence of blood in the patient’s stool may also have been due to hemorrhoids.
Symptoms associated with hemorrhoids and rectal cancer are similar — neither is painful and both cause blood in the stool, Chiu said, but added that there are subtle differences, such as the color of blood in the stool.
Blood in the stool because of rectal cancer is stickier and dark red in color, while that from hemorrhoids is bright red, Chiu said.
After surgically removing the tumor, the man now has normal bowel movements, Chiu said.
The man was very lucky, as the cancerous cells had not yet spread to the lymphatic system, he said. Once cancerous cells have entered the lymphatic system, they can spread to the entire body and cause organ dysfunctions, he added.