3 Warning Signs of Colon Cancer

May 7th 2016

Colon cancer affects about 4.7 percent of people, but its subtle or nonexistent warning signs make it a difficult cancer to detect. Regular screenings combined with visiting your doctor if any possible symptoms do occur is the best way to detect this disease as early as possible.

Changes in Bowel Movements

Some people with colon cancer experience a change in bowel movements. This can take the form of diarrhea, narrowing of the stool or feeling as if you cannot fully empty your bowel. While normal bouts of diarrhea or constipation happen, they become more serious if they persist for more than a few days. Blood in the stool is also cause for concern. Persistent gas pains or other abdominal cramping may also be an early sign.

General Health

Some warning signs of colon cancer may not appear to be directly related to the bowel. Persistent weakness and fatigue are commonly associated with colon cancer. Sudden unexplained weight loss can also be a sign that your colon is not functioning properly. Anemia is also a common early sign of colon cancer. This occurs because of bleeding in the colon, which is not always apparent in the stool. The internal bleeding leads to a low red blood cell count over time.

Unusual Screening Results

The most reliable way to find colon cancer in its early stages is to engage in regular screening. For most people, this begins around age 50. Some people with hereditary risk factors or a history of other cancers may begin screening earlier. Many people with colon cancer have no symptoms, but early detection from screening allows them to get early life-saving treatment. Ask your doctor about what kind of screening you need.

Conclusion

Colon cancer is an insidious disease that does not always present clear symptoms in the early stages. Even when noticeable symptoms begin, they can be subtle enough that many people dismiss them as indigestion or other minor ailments. However, early detection is key to successful treatment, so if you start noticing the following early warning signs of colon cancer, be sure to visit your doctor.

Sources

Cancer.org "Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer" http://www.cancer.org/cancer/colonandrectumcancer/moreinformation/colonandrectumcancerearlydetection/colorectal-cancer-early-detection-symptoms-of-crc
MayoClinic.org "Colon cancer: Symptoms" http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colon-cancer/basics/symptoms/con-20031877
SEER.cancer.gov "SEER stat fact sheets: Colon and rectum cancer" http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/colorect.html
Colon cancer treatment (PDQ) "Colon cancer treatment (PDQ)" http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/colon/Patient#Keypoint2

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