Colon cancer (also known as bowel cancer or colorectal cancer) is any cancer that affects the last section of the digestive tract (usually the colon or rectum). It is responsible for over 16,000 deaths in the UK each year and is therefore one of the most dangerous types of cancer around. There are a number of symptoms which could indicate that you have bowel cancer. In this article I will be discussing these signs and symptoms and hopefully give you the information to identify this disease sooner rather than later.
Unlike other conditions where the symptoms are often clear and easy to identify, colon cancer symptoms are usually vague and more difficult to spot. As the cancer becomes more advanced and the tumour grows, the symptoms become more noticeable. However, by this time it is often more difficult to treat the cancer effectively. That is why it is essential for you to be on the lookout for signs of bowel cancer at all times. There are many symptoms associated with this type of cancer but below I have outlined four of the most common.
1) BLOOD IN THE STOOLS OR RECTAL BLEEDING:- This is probably the number one symptom of colon cancer. With this type of cancer the tumour develops in the final section of the digestive tract. Therefore, if the tumour bleeds some of this blood usually comes out of the rectum or in your stools. The bleeding is not usually significant but if you notice any at all then you should inform your doctor immediately.
2) PAIN IN THE STOMACH:- If the tumour gets large enough it can cause a blockage in your colon. This blockage can prevent solids, fluids or gases passing through your bowel which then leads to cramps and pains. In the worst cases, the tumour can grow so large that it breaks through your bowel wall which again causes major stomach pains. Although stomach pains are associated with multiple conditions, any prolonged pains could be indicative of colon cancer. If you experience these pains for an extended period go and see your doctor right away.
3) DIFFERENT BOWEL MOVEMENTS:- If the tumour becomes large it can also have an impact on your bowel movements. The blockage created by a large tumour can prevent stools from passing through the colon leading to constipation (difficulty passing stools). It can also cause a build up of fluid behind the tumour which eventually leaks through leading to diarrhea (difficulty controlling your bowel movements because your stools have become watery). If you notice any unusual bowel movements, particularly for long periods, this could be a sign of colorectal cancer and you should consult your doctor.
4) UNEXPECTED WEIGHT LOSS:- Sometimes tumours release chemicals which increase your metabolism and cause you to burn more calories than usual. Therefore, if you experience any unexpected or unexplained weight loss you should consult your doctor and get yourself tested for bowel cancer. Even if the weight loss is not linked to cancer it is still advisable to see your doctor because any weight loss that you cannot account for is likely to have some underlying cause.
As you can see from this article the symptoms of colon cancer are not always obvious and easy to identify. However, I hope this article has shown you some of the things you should be looking out for. Bowel cancer is much more treatable if it is caught in the early stages so if you notice any of the above symptoms do not take any chances. Go see your doctor right away and get a professional verdict.
Whilst every intention has been made to make this article accurate and informative, it is intended for general information only. Colon cancer is a very serious, life threatening condition and you should discuss any concerns, treatments or lifestyle changes fully with your doctor.