Can Irritable Bowel Syndrome lead to Colon Cancer?

Dr. Timothy Hoops
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
I am 33-year-old female diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome about 10 years ago. Can my condition lead to colon cancer?

Dr. Timothy Hoops, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Gastroenterology Division at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of Gastroenterology at Penn Medicine at Radnor, responds:

While some of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may also be symptoms suggesting the presence of a cancer (e.g a change in bowel habits, constipation, etc.), there is no known relationship between this condition and colon cancer. However, should a cancer develop in a patient with IBS it would very likely be caught early since colonoscopies are often performed to make sure that other problems aren't the cause of the symptoms.