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Colon Cancer

Should I be Concerned?

09/03/2010

Question:

My husband has experienced a significant weight loss of approximately 40lbs over the last 3 months unintentionally. He is extremely fatigued, weak, has recently opened up and told me he has a pretty constant stomach pain that has gotten worse over the last 3 months. He is having trouble concentrating, has blood in the toilet every bowel movement (he says it`s not actually in the stool) and admitted that he hasn`t had a solid bowel movement in over a year. I obviously pushed him to get to the doctor. Initially the doctor went right to saying he believed he was depressed. We reviewed his symptoms and he ordered a cbc. The TSH was elevated, RBC and WBC was down, albumin was up, MCV and MCH up, and we met with the doctor again. He immediately talked about the thyroid being underactive. He also said in that case, he should be experiencing weight gain, not weight loss.

My husband is 34. I am worried that b/c he is young something serious could be overlooked. With these kinds of symptoms, is underactive thyroid the only possible cause? I would like to know what else could fall in line with these results so that we can request to check more and be sure. I hate to say this, but my gut doesn`t agree so far that it`s probably just a thryoid under performing. From what I have read, the symptoms don`t match up to that. Can you please help me understand what else this could be based on this information and how to make sure he isn`t overlooked for further investigation into what is wrong?

I sincerely appreciate the help. Trying hard not to worry, but need to make sure I am doing everything possible to keep him healthy.

Answer:

I would be concerned about some sort of colitis - either ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. Given the symptoms he should probably be evaluated with a colonoscopy.

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Response by:

Gregory S Cooper, MD Gregory S Cooper, MD
Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University