Bowel cancer is a general term for any cancer which develops in the large bowel. The disease is sometimes referred to as colorectal or colon cancer. The early warning signs of bowel cancer can be very subtle making them easily missed. This could cause a detrimental effect on one’s survival, hence why spotting unusual, early signs is imperative. Tenesmus refers to difficulty expelling stools and is a warning sign of bowel cancer.
“In the rectum, patients most frequently complain of blood in the stools.
“Tenesmus or the feeling of having to defecate without having stools, pain upon defecation, or sciatica can be symptoms of rectal cancer.
“Sciatica is an ominous symptom, signifying locally advanced rectal cancer with major neural involvement by the tumour.
“Most commonly, patients with right-sided tumours present with anaemia and left-sided or rectal cancer patients most commonly present with change in bowel habits or blood in the stools.
“Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhoea, tenesmus, constipation and weight loss.”
Rectal tenesmus is a feeling of being unable to empty the large bowel of stool, even if there is nothing left to expel.
Several medical conditions can cause tenesmus.
These include inflammatory bowel disease, bowel cancer and disorders that affect how muscles move food through the gut.
The condition can be painful, especially if there is cramping or other digestive symptoms alongside it.
The symptoms can come and go, or they may persist long term.
Tenesmus often refers to cramping rectal pain and gives a person the feeling that they need to have a bowel movement, even if they’re already had one.
When a person has tenesmus, they might strain harder to produce only a small amount of stool during bowel movements.
Other conditions which could tenesmus include a colon infection which can be caused by organisms such as a bacteria or virus, ischemic colitis which is an inflammation of the colon due to decreased blood flow to that area, diverticulitis caused by inflammation of the bulges in the wall of the colon, inflammation of the colon due to radiation, the abnormal movement of food or waste in the digestive tract, irritable bowel syndrome, a prolapsed haemorrhoid, rectal abscess or rectal gonorrhoea.
It’s important to speak with your GP about your symptoms as they will be able to determine the cause of your tenesmus.