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IBS or colon cancer?
Jan 31, 2009

I have been HIV positive for over a year now and have started my treatment January 2008 on atripla. Because of my compliance to my treatment, I have never had any problem. My CD4 have risen from 350 to the latest at 516 and my viral load has been consistently undetectable. Aside from being HIV positive, I am also diagnosed with hypertension and my primary physician has put me on lisinopril/hydrochlorothiazide. For about 3 months now, I have been experiencing abdominal discomfort due to gas buildup and flatulence. I noticed that at times I get diarrhea (which I am aware normal for someone like me who is HIV positive) and constipation. Because of excessive gas buildup, I sometimes feel bloated and feel stomach cramps. One time I noticed blood coming out from my rectum, not excessive but bright red and at times I notice that my stool appears flat. I am aware that this may be a sign of colon cancer but also it could be irritable bowel syndrome. Am I right or wrong? I do not exhibit weight loss or fever (which is a good thing) but I often have hyperactive bowel sounds (which may be because of gas buildup). I know that when a person becomes HIV positive, immune surveillance is lessened that HIV positive people are prone to acquiring cancer. I would greatly appreciate you taking time reading my concerns and providing me with insights. I am planning on seeing my doctor in the following weeks.

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for your post.

Bleeding from the rectum could be a symptom of lots of things, some minor (like hemorrhoids) and others, more serious (like cancers).

I don't think that even well qualified gastroenterologists could make the diagnosis in their own bodies without additional diagnostic information (such as blood work, x rays or endoscopy)-- I wouldn't want you to think that you could either.

With your symptoms, I wouldn't recommend waiting weeks, but rather call your doctor to schedule an appointment at the next opportunity.

I hope that your situation turns out to be the benign.

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