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thin stools and itching

Posts: 77
Joined: Mar 2013

hello everyone...  i finished treatment March 12/13  and healed pretty quickly with little to no complications and also had first scans and scopes with the all clear (Yaaa). However for the last month or so i tend to get itchy around the anus area much like it did when i had the cancer.  Im hoping its just scar tissue but why did it start after the healing.  As for the thin stools they are maybe the thickness of my thump or index finger. But its funny cause when i do go, it feels like its gonna be huge but comes out thin.  Im assuming my anus opening shrunk. The general surgeon said that it was ok to have thin stools and to not worry about that. Atleast your going and its not diarrhea or constipation issues.  i do go usually once a day but sometimes twice.  My norm before treatment was about the same.  Really the only differance is the size.  Should i be concerned about this?  Will my anus opening stay shrunk if i dont bulk up my stool?  I only pray i dont get constipated! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  Bless you all           Pem

RoseC's picture
Posts: 558
Joined: Jun 2011

I had a lot of itching during and after treatment. And thinner stools too. At almost five years out, the stools are still sometimes pretty thin.

Posts: 77
Joined: Mar 2013

Thanks for responding Rosec.  How long after treatment did your stools start to bulk up?  Mine are always thin right now and i do eat better but never was a real bad eater.  So do you think the itching is from scar tissue also?  Hope nothing is growing again.....thx again  pem

RoseC's picture
Posts: 558
Joined: Jun 2011

It's probably that your insides are still healing. Even though your outsides healed quickly, the insides take longer. I was told the radiation is still working several months after treatment. Try not to worry that something's growing again. It sounds like you're having good bowel movements. Check with your doctor, but personally I wouldn't try to bulk anything up - not unless you were having diarrhea.

Posts: 1122
Joined: Aug 2012

I think this is all normal. Try to eat 1/4 cup of organic hummus a day to bulk up stools safely. This recommendation came from the dietician I worked with at the hospital and it works well. Wishing you good health!

Posts: 77
Joined: Mar 2013

thanks again Rosec and Marynb for your input.  I have eaten humus but did not  see a differance in my stool size.  I didn't do it daily so maybe i will try that and see. the lack of responses to my question is either due to people thinking my problem is bad news or think its to vulgar to repond to and i am sorry if i affended anyone with my topic of choice.  May god bless you all and bring good health.   Pem 

Posts: 1255
Joined: Oct 2011

Don't worry, really nothing on here is off limits. I did not think your question was at all out of line. I have a colostomy so my whole digestive and elimination process does not usually apply. I have been here for 2yrs though and know from reading other posts that your concerns are common. The itching I did have (even though not really using that part of me), and the thinner stools I have heard others talk about as they heal. There is stenosis (shrinkage) from radiation in the anal canal. Some will improve in time  but will probably never be quite as before. Continue to drink lots of fluids and although you want some bulk you want to avoid a blockage or constipation so don't overdue. Healing is a long process so will take patience. Feel free to come here with ANY questions, we are here to help each other through this.

As always, all in my prayers.

Posts: 379
Joined: Jan 2013

Hi pem

I don't think your problem is bad news or that it is vulgar.  Everything about this cancer and the healing may be off-putting to those who aren't experiencing it but certainly not to any of us.

I think you're going through normal healing.  Stenosis will mean that the stools are thinner and I think the itching is healing, just like when you've got a scab anywhere on your skin.  I definitely experience the same thing.  I'm now 9 month post-treatment and still have some pain and occasional itching.  I have found that metamucil to bulk up the stool is very helpful.  At my surgeon's suggestion I take 4 tablespoons in a large glass of water every morning.  I also take imodium because of urgency issues, pay attention to food containing hirgher amounts of insoluble fiber (brocoli is not my friend!) and drinks lots and lots of water. 

Take care of yourself.

Posts: 454
Joined: Nov 2012


I saw your post but didn't respond because others have given good advice. Nothing is taboo on here! We all have been or in the same boat & some of what we need support with is really intimate, but we  are all here for each other.

. I am 6 months post treatment & my stools vary in size & frequency. As long as I am not constipated or obstructing & I can reach a loo in time, I don't stress over it. 

Hope this makes you more comfortable aboutvposting whatever.


mp327's picture
Posts: 4146
Joined: Jan 2010

You've gotten some really good advice and I really don't have anything to add.  Please don't be afraid to discuss such topics on this site--we are used to it and the people here understand.  Your concerns and questions are legitimate, even though not all people outside of our circle would understand.

Posts: 316
Joined: May 2013

Funny how must of us never talked about anuses & bowel movements before but now it's a common topic (at least on this board). 

Since finishing treatment in March, I too have narrow stools along with frequent (5-6) bowel movements per day.  In May, I had a itching/burning sensation and thought I saw a bump.  I freaked out because those are symptoms I ignored and ultimately lead to this diagnosis.  I immediately saw my radiology oncologist and he saw nothing out of the ordinary.  After monitoring me for several weeks and receiving a clear PET/CT scan, he told me the best thing to do was use Aquafor ointment which I did & still do when things don't feel quite right. 

One thing I've learned from this board it that we have a new normal after treatment.


Posts: 77
Joined: Mar 2013

its great to know that there are people that care and understand where i am coming from.  When i dont hear any news i get scared and you all eased that  fear for me.  I will try the aquafor cause when i get itchy i tend to wipe or rub to hard with the towel or tissue and that creates friction and i get more tender, itchy and sore down under.  Maybe it will help the healing faster.  Having you all here to read my concerns means so much to me.  God bless you all...  Pem

sandysp's picture
Posts: 862
Joined: May 2011

The stool size, I believe was handled well here. It seems we have more swelling some days than others, is my best guess. But I take organic psyllium husks which is the same thing as Metamucil except mine contains no flavoring. I just put it in fresh squeezed orange or grapefruit juice first thing in the morning. It makes such a difference in my elimination. I can really tell if I miss even a day.

But the itching and irritation in the peri anal area, I have learned from my PT is best handled with Vitamin E Oil. They told me every morning and every night to oil up the whole vulva and perianal area with vitamin E oil and at night to put on top of that oil the Aquaphor, which seals the oil in. I have tried to do this regularly and it is helping a great deal. These kinds of occurrences still come and go but the Vitamin E oil helps them go faster.

If the itching is really bad, some Lidocaine ointment or some cooling gel type hemmeroid ointment might be helpful too.

I remember my Dad telling me when a sore is itching that is good, cause it means it is healing. So maybe that quote will cheer you on as well.

Hang in there,





Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 2013

Hi pem!  I finished my treatment April 18.  I have the exact same issues.  The itching on the inside is the worst feeling because you can't scratch it....all you can do is clinch.  I asked my doctor about that and he said the inside is still healing and it's nothing to worry about.  My PET scan came back clear on July 15.  I have to see my colorectal doctor every 3 months for 2 years so he can use a probe with a camera to make sure he doesn't see anything (he's the one that found my cancer).  I just had my first "probing" and I could see radiation burns still.  The doctors told me it would take up to a year for my bowels to be back to normal.  I asked about the size and color of my stools and they said it was nothing to worry about.  I started freaking out a little when I would wipe and find blood.  It's just that my stool was a little hard and it was irritated right by the hole on the inside.  It's all good.  I was told to take a stool softener everyday for a year and get as much fiber as possible.  I hope this helps. - Dana

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