Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Diverticula are small bulging pouches which develop in the lining of the lower portion of the large intestine called colon. The formation of diverticula is not something that is quite uncommon and this condition is seen frequently in individuals above the age of 40. This condition rarely causes any symptoms.

However, there are times when these pouches become inflamed, irritated, or infected. This is what is termed as diverticulitis. This is an extremely painful condition causing pain in the lower abdominal areas along with persistent bouts of nausea and vomiting with a significant change in the bowel patterns of the affected individual.

Mild cases of diverticulitis can be easily treated dietary and lifestyle modifications whereas incidence of diverticulitis where a significant portion of the colon gets damaged requires surgery for treatment. Many individuals with diverticulitis often ask their treating providers or are afraid of whether diverticulitis can cause cancer.

While many of the symptoms of diverticulitis are similar to what can be a colon cancer studies have not shown any proof that an individual with diverticulitis can go on to develop colon cancer. This article gives a brief overview of whether there is any connection between diverticulitis and cancer.

Can You Get Cancer From Diverticulitis?

No, as stated above, there are quite a few similarities between diverticulitis and colon cancer starting from the symptoms, which is acute abdominal pain or rectal bleeding, but while diverticulitis is caused due to inflammation of the diverticuli where as the colon cancer develops from entirely different factors.

Another similarity between diverticulitis and colon cancer is that both can be treated with surgery and both can be prevented by eating a fiber rich diet and drinking lots of water.

There are no studies that show that there is a link between diverticulitis and colon cancer. This is mainly because diverticulitis is quite a common condition, which can be found in almost all individuals above the age of 50 whereas colon cancer is not that common and not many people have this condition.

Moreover, the treatment of diverticulitis is quite easy compared to the treatment of colon cancer, which in almost all the cases requires surgery for removal of the tumor followed by additional treatments with radiation and chemotherapy. Additionally, there are no studies to suggest that an individual with diverticulitis is at an increased risk for developing colon cancer.

Colon cancer develops when rapidly growing cells form clusters which take the shape of a tumor, which is not the case with diverticulitis, although the tumor may appear to be like a swollen diverticula but these tumors are not filled with fluid as is the case with diverticulitis.

The most important factor which signifies that diverticulitis does not cause cancer is that diverticulitis does not spread whereas colon cancer spreads rapidly. In diverticulitis, the pain is acute in onset and intensifies rapidly whereas pain in cancer pain progresses more slowly and an individual may not even known that one has colon cancer before the cancer has spread.

In conclusion, while diverticulitis and colon cancer may have similar symptoms and in some cases may even have same treatment in the form of surgery, there is no evidence to suggest that if an individual has diverticulitis then one may go on to develop colon cancer. Thus, there is no factual evidence to suggest that diverticulitis causes cancer.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: July 11, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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