5 Colon Cancer Symptoms That You Shouldn't Ignore

Health & Medical Blog

Colon cancer is a common type of colorectal cancer that normally occurs in people who are over the age of 50. More than 100,000 new cases of colon cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. per year on average, making it one of the leading cancer types among men and women. A colonoscopy is a colon cancer screening tool that can help diagnose the condition, and most adults should start receiving this test approximately once every 10 years starting at the age of 50. It's also important for people to be aware of the following symptoms so you can schedule a colon cancer screening if necessary.

1. Blood in the Stool

Blood in the stool can occur for a variety of reasons and is sometimes temporary but you should consider a colon cancer screening if the problem continues to occur. If dark blood spots are seen in the stool or if the stool looks black or tarry, bleeding could be occurring in the colon, which may be caused by a cancerous tumor or noncancerous polyp. The blood may also be coming from an ulcer, but only medical testing can determine the exact cause.

2. Unusually Narrow Stool

Unusually narrow stool can be a sign of colon cancer if it's noticeable for more than a few days. The stool may appear to be pencil-shaped because of a tumor in the colon or another part of the digestive tract that has created a narrow passageway for the stool to pass. Even though the thin stool may be just the result of having loose stool and nothing too serious, colon cancer shouldn't be ruled out automatically, especially if other symptoms are noticeable.

3. Prolonged Changes in Bowel Habits

Constipation, diarrhea, and other unusual bowel habits are often associated with irritable bowel syndrome, Chron's disease, and other digestive disorders that aren't related to cancer, but colon cancer can also cause these changes to occur. A person's diet may also cause these changes, but the problem should be brought to a doctor's attention if the unusual bowel habits last for more than a few days. 

4. Abdominal Pain or Discomfort 

Temporary abdominal pain or discomfort is a normal and mostly harmless occurrence among many people that can be caused by foods that are eaten, but persistent pain or discomfort can indicate colon cancer or another serious condition. Colon cancer can produce cramping or other painful sensations, and some people with the condition report feeling gassy or bloated because of a tumor's interference with the normal digestive process. The pain or discomfort may also be felt mostly on the right or left side of the abdomen if the tumor is located in the ascending or descending colon.

5. Unexplained Weight Loss or Weight Gain

A sudden change in body weight without an explainable cause can sometimes be a sign of colon cancer. Body waste can back up inside the body because of an obstructive colon cancer tumor, and this may result in abnormal weight gain. If 10 pounds or more of body weight are lost within less than a six-month period without a justifiable reason, colon cancer may also be present.

If you experience these or any other colon cancer symptoms, your doctor may recommend testing to diagnose or rule out the condition. Colon cancer screenings are often effective in diagnosing the condition in its earlier stages and have helped many people get the prompt treatment that they need to eliminate or at least slow the cancer's progression to lead longer lives.


4 October 2021