Colon cancer generally develops slowly and begins with an abnormal polyp on the inner lining of the colon. These polyps can be detected early by regular screening, may be benign, and can be removed before they become cancerous. While polyps are generally clinically silent, colon cancer eventually presents with certain symptoms that should not be ignored.
According to the American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons
, "Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States, striking 140,000 people annually and causing 60,000 deaths. That's a staggering figure when you consider the disease is potentially curable if diagnosed in the early stages."
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Here are six symptoms associated with colon cancer:
A change in bowel function including persistent constipation, diarrhea or change in stool appearance. The most common structural change is a narrowing of the stool.
Blood in the stool: According to WebMD,
"Bloody stool is often from hemorrhoids, but it can also be a symptom of colon cancer."
Cramping and abdominal pain: Cramping and abdominal pain are symptoms of colon cancer. However, according to MedicineNet,
initiation of pain can depend on the location of the tumor. "The right colon is wider and more flexible. It can even be called relatively spacious as compared to the rest of the colon. Cancers of the right colon can grow to large sizes before they cause any abdominal symptoms."
Unexplained anemia: Tumors located in the right side of the colon often cause an iron deficiency due to slow blood loss. On the other hand, colon tumors on the left are more likely to cause typical bowl changes such as constipation and diarrhea.
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Bright red blood: While blood in the stool can be from hemorrhoids or an anal fissure, bright red blood can also be a symptom of colon cancer. Bright red blood indicates that the tumor may be closer to the end of the colon.
Unexplained weight loss: According to the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada,
"The pain and discomfort caused by a tumor can lead to loss of appetite, which in turn results in weight loss. The unexplained weight loss can be a sign that a tumor is releasing chemicals that are increasing one’s metabolism."
This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.
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