Ulcerated Mass in Lower Colon

Q.Can you please tell me the meaning of this: “an ulcerated erythematous mass present in the sigmoid colon”?


A.The phrase you mention — “an ulcerated erythematous mass present in the sigmoid colon” — is a phrase that a gastroenterologist would use in writing up what he had seen in a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.

Specifically, the word “ulcerated” refers to tissue that has an ulcer present on its surface. “Erythematous” refers to redness, most likely in the setting of bleeding or inflammation, while the word “mass” means a solid lesion. The “sigmoid colon” — the area where the mass was found — is the section of colon immediately connected to the rectum.

A.When this phrase is taken as a whole, it suggests several possible diagnoses. The most worrisome is a cancer of the sigmoid colon. Cancers are often found in this area and often appear as masses with ulcers and erythema. However, the mass you mention could stem from other causes.

A colonic infection caused by certain parasites or viruses can ulcerate and appear as a mass due to tissue swelling. Also, ischemic colitis (a condition caused by a lack of blood flow to a segment of colon) can appear like an ulcerated mass.

Regardless, because of the possibility of colon cancer, immediate further evaluation is essential, including another endoscopy to take biopsies of the mass if this has not yet been done.