Q. In 2001 I had a very strong urge to chew on ice. After reading in your column that this could be a sign of anemia, I told my doctor about it. The blood work showed anemia and I was advised to get a colonoscopy. This test showed cancer in the colon.

I had surgery and received six months of chemo. The operation removed 10 inches of my colon. Testing the lymph nodes showed the cancer had spread to three out of 15 tested.

I wouldn’t have mentioned the craving for ice cubes had I not read about it in your column. I thank you for that timely article. I have been cancer free for these past seven years.

A. Unexplained cravings for ice, laundry starch, cornstarch or other peculiar substances often signal a deficiency of iron or zinc and should be investigated. We are pleased your doctor took your anemia seriously and looked for the cause. The colonoscopy and subsequent treatment of the cancer may have saved your life.

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  1. Joan
    Candor NY.

    I have been experiencing some form of abdominal pain for well over 50 years but never had the craving ice.

    For years I have had an extended abdomen as well, so much so it looked like I was almost 9 months pregnant.
    Through the years I have had numerous back surgeries, a total hysterectomy, total hip replacement on my right side. Had a neck fusion done, torn minuscis repaired on my right knee, carpal tunnel on both hands, a broken left wrist, a hair line fracture later on, on the same left wrist plus surgery for a torn lunar.

    Back in 2012 I had a pain stimulator placed in back which remained there until December of 2014 when I had what is know as revision surgery. During the post surgery I managed to get an infection in it. Well after dealing with it for a month, had it totally romoved which required a 3 months stay in rehab.

    While there, I developed severe pain only right side that came From my back where I had the leads to my pain stimulater removed.
    The pain would start off at “T” 10 and 11 as one single branch until it reached my right side where it would split into three branches one going around an under my right rib acting as if I was having a gallbladder attack. Which I was actually having. The other two pain branches would direct them selves to my navel with the other extending toward an into my right leg.. Even after my gallbladder surgery I expected my pain to go away completely but it didn’t.

    A few months after that surgery my husband and I contracted Cdiff a very bad intestinal bug. The same pain I had previously came back with a vengeance not just once but three times.

    I had several major tests done that showed I had bacterial colitis and possible IBS.

    I was told my doctor wanted to preform an endoscope and colonoscopy on me. I was given stuff to drink that was supposed to clean me totally out but instead caused me to vomit violently and never did clean me out. In fact, all it did was make me sicker an cause me more pain all over that extended into my right side, also under my sternum an at times under my left rib cage..
    As like before, the pain would also mimic a heart attack sending me to the ER more often than not where I would stay for 3-8 hours then be sent home with an unknown
    Diagnoses or if they gave me one, it was one that was generic in nature that didn’t get cured.

    I don’t eat bet much an have lost since last year, a total of 35 pounds even though I didn’t try to.

    Since I got home from my supposed to have endoscopy on Tuesday I have hardly eaten any solids. The only thing that taste good are regular Popsicles. Every thing else in the way of food has much to be desired.

    Have any of you folks experienced anything similar?

    I sure would appreciate some feed back.

    Thanks Joan

    Well I went to the GI lab

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