Difference Between IBS and Colon Cancer

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common condition of the gastrointestinal tract, and Colon cancer is the abnormal growth of cells at the inner wall of the large intestine. Both conditions are a burden to public health.

With the rising cases of both the conditions in developing countries as well as developed countries, there is a need for awareness among the public regarding the signs, symptoms, and diagnosis of the condition.  

IBS vs Colon Cancer

The main difference between IBS and colon cancer is that Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder. It can appear at any time in a person’s life but most likely occurs below the age of 50. Whereas colon cancer is the abnormal growth of the cells that spread through the colon and distant parts of the body.

IBS vs Colon Cancer 1

The signs of symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain, irregular bowel movement, etc. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) will not lead to colon cancer. The symptoms of IBS differ. Once there is severe colon cancer, the symptoms will be bloating, weight loss, etc.

Both the conditions are different, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) will not lead to colon cancer. Each of the disorders has different causes, factors, methods of diagnosis, and treatment.

Both conditions have become a major public health concern. That is the reason there should be aware of these conditions among the public.

Comparison Table Between IBS and Colon Cancer

Parameters of ComparisonIBSColon Cancer
DefinitionGastrointestinal disorderAbnormal growth of cells at the inner wall of the large intestine
Other NamesSpastic colon, Nervous colon, Spastic bowelRectal cancer, Bowel Cancer, Colorectal Cancer
SymptomsCramping, bloating, and gasBlood in the stool, Weight loss, weakness, fatigue, and abdominal pain
PrevalenceAffects women as compared to menAffects men as compared to women
Risk FactorsGastrointestinal infection, prolonged fever, depression, and anxietyDiet, Obesity, Smoking, and Lack of physical activity.
DiagnosisNo specific laboratory test or imaging test can diagnose IBS. The stool test is usually doneThe test is confirmed by microscopical examination of a tissue sample

What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which is also named as Spastic colon, Nervous colon, Spastic bowel is a chronic condition of the lower gastrointestinal tract.

According to one of the reports published by IBS Global in the year 2018, reported that the prevalence of IBS globally is 11%. In developing countries like India, it has been reported around 4.2%.

Out of which, only 10 to 20% receive medical care. It has been observed that IBS affects more women than men. IBS has also occurred in children, although it is not contagious, inherited, or cancerous.

The signs and symptoms of IBS depend from person to person, but most commonly, abdominal pain is seen in the case of adults and children.

The symptoms in women are more likely to have during the time of menstruation and increase during the time of pregnancy, whereas in the case of men, the symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, and gas.

The risk factors include acute gastrointestinal infection, prolonged fever, anxiety, and depression. The IBS has further been divided into four parts, i.e., IBS with constipation, IBS with diarrhea, Mixed IBS, and unsubtyped IBS.

The treatment of IBS includes medications such as Lotronex, Viberzi, etc. The change in lifestyle and diet plans can also help to prevent IBS.

What is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer is a type of malignant tumor that arises from the inner wall of the large intestine. This type of cancer is also known as rectal cancer, bowel cancer, and colorectal cancer.

This is one of the third leading causes of death in the USA. In developing countries like India, the annual incidence rate for colon cancer in men is 4.4 per 100000, and in women, it is 3.9 per 100000.

The factors that affect colorectal cancer are old age, lifestyle, and sometimes genetic disorders. The symptoms include the blood in the stool, persistent abdominal cramps and pain, weakness, fatigue, and weight loss.

The risk factors of colon cancer include diet, obesity, lack of exercise, and smoking cigarettes. Colon cancer develops different stages, and that is as follows: 

Stage 0: This stage of cancer is easy to treat, and it has not grown farther from the inner layer of the colon.

Stage 0: This stage is easy to treat as it will not grow further to the inner layer of the colon.

Stage 1: The stage of cancer where the abnormal growth will not reach the lymph nodes.

Stage 2:The stage of cancer has reached the outer layer but not the colon.

Stage 3: In this particular stage, cancer has reached the three layers of lymph nodes but does not spread to the distant parts of the body.

Stage 4: Cancer in this stage 4 will reach distant parts of the body.

Main Differences Between IBS and Colon Cancer

  1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is an abdominal disorder, whereas colon cancer is the abnormal growth of cells at the inner wall of the large intestine.
  2. The diagnosis of Colon Cancer is made by colonoscopy, while the stool test is done to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome.
  3. The treatment options for irritable bowel syndrome include medications, and a change in diet plan can also help while Colon cancer can be treated through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
  4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is known to affect more women as compared to men, while it is just the opposite in colon cancer which affects more men as compared to women as per the data of developing countries like India.
  5. IBS is also called nervous colon or spastic bowel, whereas colon cancer is also called bowel cancer, colorectal cancer.
Difference Between IBS and Colon Cancer


Colon cancer and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) share some common symptoms, but IBS will not lead to colon cancer. These are two different conditions, and neither of them triggers the other condition.

Both disorders have different causes, risk factors, diagnoses, and different treatment options.

The prevalence of both conditions is quite high in developing countries like India and is a condition that needs attention from healthcare professionals, nursing staff, and various practitioners.

 The advancement in new technologies can help these diseases to prevent and improve the person’s quality of life. Both these studies lack the retrospective design as well as the lack of patient population with limited demographic studies.

More research and clinical studies have to be done on these disorders. 


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1471489219300220
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1043661818319613
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