Haemorrhoids or Cancer? How to Tell the Difference

Because the symptoms of hemorrhoids and some cancers can seem similar, it is important to be able to recognise the differences so that you can get the correct treatment.

Hemorrhoids are more common than cancer so if you have rectal bleeding or pain, it is most likely due to hemorrhoids. In most cases hemorrhoids will not need treatment from your GP, but if you are concerned, it is worth meeting with them to rule out anything more serious.

Also called piles, hemorrhoids are swollen veins inside the lowest part of the rectum that can become painful, itchy, or cause bleeding. Hemorrhoids can also present externally around the rectum and these tend to be more painful. hemorrhoids may also cause painful bowel movements.

Cancer is caused by an extreme overgrowth of cells. When these cells grow and reproduce out of control, they can invade other parts of the body and attack healthy organs and tissue. Symptoms of anal or colan cancer can include bloody or tarry stool, an increased urgency to have a bowel movement, rectal and abdominal pain, weight loss, and fatigue. A change in bowel movements that does not get better, like chronic diarrhea, may be a sign of cancer as well.

It is important to seek medical attention if any anal lumps or bleeding does not get better. Anal cancer is a very treatable form of cancer when it is caught early.

Hemorrhoids vs Cancer
Whist it is always recommended to speak to a medical professional if you have health concerns, there are ways to help you tell the difference between hemorrhoids and cancer.

It may be hemorrhoids if:

  • Symptoms resolve with over-the-counter treatments
  • Swollen veins are visible
  • Any bumps near the anus are easy to feel
  • You are pregnant
  • You have a history of hemorrhoids or constipation
  • You have no other symptoms

It may be cancer if:

  • You have a family history of cancer
  • You are a smoker
  • You are 50 years of age or older 

If it turns out you have hemorrhoids, there are many home treatments available you can purchase from a pharmacist like Pharmacy Planet. We have several hemorrhoids medications like Proctosedyl Ointment and Scheriproct available to buy online in the UK.