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Can IBS Lead to Cancer?

Ask a Doctor

I was recently diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. I’m worried about my prognosis. Is IBS serious? Can IBS go away? Does IBS cause cancer?

Doctor’s Response

IBS has not been linked to bowel cancer.

IBS has few associated complications. IBS does not lead to rectal bleeding, colon cancer, or inflammatory bowel diseases including ulcerative colitis. Diarrhea and constipation may aggravate hemorrhoids in people who already have them. If a person eliminates too many foods from their diet, and the diet is too limited in nutrients that could cause health problems.

The effect on a person's quality of life is the biggest complication of IBS. Stress and anxiety can result from the pain, and can impact a person's daily life.

Because irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic (long-term) disease, symptoms usually return from time to time. This may be influenced by factors such as stress, diet, or other environmental causes. No known treatment cures IBS. Multiple factors may play a role in aggravating IBS, so it is difficult to predict what triggers may make IBS worse in a particular person. Establishing a good relationship with a health-care professional may help alleviate concerns over symptoms and allow rapid recognition of changing or worsening symptoms.

Avoiding triggers is the best way to prevent symptoms of IBS.

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References
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<http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2886445/>

Camilleri, M. "Current and future pharmacological treatments for diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome." Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy, 2013. 14 (9), 1151-1160.
Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. "IBS and IBD: Two Very Different Disorders."
<http://www.ccfa.org/resources/ibs-and-ibd-two-very.html>

Jeffrey S. Hyams, M.D. Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Children. National Institutes of Health. Jun 25, 2014.
<http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/ibs-in-children/Pages/facts.aspx\>

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. "IBS Diet: Cramping and Diarrhea." Jun 14, 2016.
<http://www.aboutibs.org/ibs-diet/cramping-and-diarrhea.html>

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. "IBS in the Real World." Jul 26, 2016.
<http://www.aboutibs.org/ibs-with-diarrhea.html>

National Cancer Institute. "What are cruciferous vegetables?" Jun 07, 2012.
<http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cruciferous-vegetables-fact-sheet>
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