Colon cancer, also known as bowel cancer, is a cancer of the colon or the large intestine which is found in the lower part of the digestive system. Rectal cancer, on the other hand, is a type of cancer that affects the end parts of the colon.
The collective name for these types of cancer is colorectal cancers. Nevertheless, whether it affects the colon or rectum, colorectal cancers grow little by little in a period of up to ten years before spreading and starting to affect other parts of the body.
Some of the common risk factors for colon cancer include; race, age, cancer history in a family, long-standing ulcerative colitis and colon polyps. Additionally, colorectal cancers often develop from polyps or growths. Regardless, the only way to prevent or remedy colorectal cancer is through the removal of the tumor tissues.
Colon cancer or colorectal cancers may also form if cells grow uncontrollably in the large intestines. Quite often, these cancers instigate from tiny benign (noncancerous) tumors known as adenomatous polyps which form on the large intestines inner walls.
Colon Cancer Symptoms and Signs
Some of these colon cancer symptoms can be caused by other conditions such as infections, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease and not necessarily colon cancer. However, if you notice any of the following signs or symptoms, make sure to consult your physician as soon as possible. (1)
Although vomiting can be a result of motion sickness, unpleasant smells or viruses, when vomiting and nausea are accompanied by symptoms such as pain or constipation, then the cause could be colon cancer.
Unexplained Loss of Weight
Weight loss is a success for many, but if you have no definable reason for your weight loss, there is a possibility that it was due to colon cancer. However, weight loss may not reveal colon cancer until it advances to a more extreme stage.
Furthermore, other reasons like diarrhea for more than a few days may be the cause of your weight loss. However, diarrhea itself can be a sign of colon cancer. When you experience conditions such as diarrhea, abdominal pain cause unnecessary loss of weight, make sure to seek professional medical advice.
Stomach cramps or bloating is a common experience for most people. Nevertheless, if the abdominal pain, cramps or bloating is somehow unfamiliar or extreme, see a doctor know the cause. Make sure to monitor your body well to know when something is not right.
Blood in Stool
When it comes to anal bleeding, it is noteworthy that it is a serious matter regardless of the cause. See a doctor to determine the cause of your bleeding whether it is hemorrhoids or a more serious issue such as colon cancer. Seeking medical attention will help you find the best treatment option for your condition.
Changes in Bowel Behaviors
Changes in our bowel patterns are fairly common. It may be caused by constipation, diarrhea, or just by the type of food we eat. However, a persistent change in the bowel habits may indicate the presence of colon cancer. It is therefore helpful to consult a doctor if your constipation or diarrhea persists for more than a few weeks.
Having narrower or abnormal stools or unusual changes in the appearance of your stool may indicate colon cancer. Consult the doctor if you see any of these changes to start receiving your dose of treatment.
Anemia is caused by low levels of red blood cells in our body. Furthermore, colon cancer may cause anemia due to an infinitesimal amount of chronic blood cells in our stool. This bleeding leads to the loss of iron in the red blood cells thus depleting the iron stored in the body.(2)
Women, on the other hand, experience a shortage of iron during their menstruation. However, for men, it is not common, and there is the need for a further check-up by a physician to determine the deficiency.
You need to see a doctor when you notice any of the following:
- Blood in your stool (rectal bleeding)
- Insistent discomfort in the abdominal area like cramps, pain, and gas
- Unusual changes in bowel habits lasting for more than a few weeks
- When your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Weakness or overall fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
The mentioned signs and symptoms of colon cancer vary from one person to another. Also, they differ in severity based on the location of cancer in the colon, growth, and size. Finally, some can be noticed through changes in the digestive tract, while others can impact on the whole body. Seek medical attention whenever you experience anything unusual.