What are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?

Common Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer diagnosed in the world. Early diagnosis of colon cancer can lead to a cure and reduce the need for extensive and prolonged treatments. With survival rates greater than 90% when discovered in the first stage of the disease, it is important to know the warning symptoms of colon cancer and report them to your doctor as soon as possible to prevent a delay in detection.

Any bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stool can be a sign of colon cancer. Also, if the stool is consistently dark in color and very tar-like in texture, this is a sign of bleeding in the colon or higher in the gastrointestinal tract. While there may be other causes of the bleeding, both of these symptoms are reasons for more testing to determine the cause. In addition to blood in the stool and dark tarry stools, stools which are consistently coated with mucus can be a sign of colon cancer. Blood may or may not be present in these cases of mucous covered stool. With large amounts of bleeding, weakness due to anemia can develop.

Persistent constipation or persistent diarrhea can point to a colon cancer. Any changes in the stool consistency or changes in bowel habits that are unrelated to dietary changes and which last for more than a few days should be reported to your physician. Abdominal cramping, bloating, and increased flatulence or gas may be a symptom of colon cancer. If these symptoms are not related to a recent change in your diet or if these symptoms persist beyond a few days, it is important to report them to your healthcare professional. Pain in the abdomen that accompanies bowel movements or abdominal pain that occurs at random may point to a partial blockage of the colon caused by colon cancer. Constipation or the feeling that you need to have a bowel movement but cannot is also a symptom of a blockage of the colon that could be caused by colon cancer.

While it is usually a later finding, any unexplained weight loss, even if it is not accompanied by any other symptoms could be caused by colon cancer. This is especially true if the weight loss is accompanied by a decrease in appetite. While there are other explanations for all of the above symptoms, colon cancer can only be ruled out by proper testing performed by a qualified medical professional. Many people delay testing due to fear of the tests themselves. Delays in testing lead to detection at more advanced stages when colon cancer is more difficult to treat. Due to newer techniques for both screening and diagnosis, testing for colon cancer can be performed with no or minimal discomfort. Do not delay seeking medical help for any of these symptoms. Prompt care for these symptoms will lead to an earlier diagnosis if colon cancer is present.

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Posted on May 5, 2023