Colon cancer is a type of cancer that affects the colon, which is the large intestine. It is one of the most common types of cancer worldwide, with hundreds of thousands of new cases diagnosed every year.
While colon cancer can be deadly if left untreated, early detection can significantly increase the chances of successful treatment. In this article, we will discuss the early signs of colon cancer that you should watch out for.
Understanding Colon Cancer Symptoms
Colon cancer symptoms can vary depending on the location and size of the tumor. In some cases, there may be no symptoms at all, which is why regular screenings are so important. However, there are some early signs of colon cancer that you should be aware of:
Changes in Bowel Habits
One of the most common early signs of colon cancer is a change in bowel habits. This can include diarrhea, constipation, or a feeling that your bowel movements are incomplete. You may also notice that your stool is narrower than usual, which could be a sign that there is a blockage in your colon.
Blood in the Stool
If you notice blood in your stool, it is important to see a doctor right away. While there are many possible causes of rectal bleeding, including hemorrhoids and anal fissures, blood in the stool can also be a sign of colon cancer.
Abdominal Pain and Cramping
Abdominal pain and cramping are common symptoms of many conditions, including colon cancer. If you experience persistent pain or cramping in your abdomen, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms, such as bloating or nausea, see a doctor asap.
Unexplained Weight Loss
Unexplained weight loss can be a sign of many different types of cancer, including colon cancer. If you have lost weight without trying, or if you are experiencing a loss of appetite, visit your doctor right away.
Fatigue and Weakness
Fatigue and weakness can be caused by many different factors, including stress and lack of sleep. However, if you are experiencing persistent fatigue and weakness, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms, such as unexplained weight loss, it would be best to consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Anemia is a condition in which your body does not have enough red blood cells. It can be caused by many different factors, including colon cancer. If you are experiencing symptoms of anemia, such as fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath, visit your doctor right away.
Changes in Stool Color
Changes in the color of your stool can also be a sign of colon cancer. If you notice that your stool is darker than usual, or if it appears black or tarry, it could be a sign of bleeding in your digestive tract.
When to See a Doctor
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor right away. While these symptoms can be caused by many different conditions, including less serious ones, such as hemorrhoids and irritable bowel syndrome, they can also be signs of colon cancer.
Early detection is key to successful treatment, so it is important to get checked out as soon as possible.
Risk Factors for Colon Cancer
While anyone can develop colon cancer, there are certain risk factors that can increase your chances of developing the disease. These include:
- Age: Colon cancer is more common in people over the age of 50.
- Family history: If you have a family history of colon cancer, you may be at higher risk.
- Personal history of colon cancer: If you have had colon cancer in the past, you are at higher risk of developing it again.
- Inflammatory bowel disease: If you have inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, you may be at higher risk.
- Diet: A diet high in red and processed meats, as well as low in fiber, can increase your risk of colon cancer.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of physical activity can increase your risk of colon cancer.
- Smoking: Smoking can increase your risk of many different types of cancer, including colon cancer.