Categorized | Cancer

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

As a rule, early stages of many types of cancer do not cause any symptoms. Therefore, patients are usually diagnosed when the cancer has already spread. It is even being suggested that patients be screened even if they do not show any symptoms. Bleeding from the back passage, abnormalities in bowel movement, including constipation and diarrhoea are usually the earliest symptoms.

Diarrhoea may be a sign of a viral or bacterial infection, but if it continues for more than three weeks, it can be a sign of colon cancer and requires urgent medical care. In later stages of bowel cancer, loss of appetite and weight may occur.

Luckily, bowel cancers are fairly easy to be detected in early stages, especially if the individual regularly undergoes screenings, since this form of cancer is quite slow to develop. It takes around 10 years for an adenoma to become cancerous, turn into a tumour and affect the deeper tissues of the large intestine. Even if the person does not fall into categories of increased risk to get bowel cancer, they should not ignore persistent symptoms and should seek medical advice no later than two months after the symptoms start occurring.

Symptoms vary and not every individual will experience each of the symptoms. The most common signs of colon cancer are an unusual change in bowel habit, especially to need to empty bowels more frequently or less frequently than normal, rectal bleeding, especially when there is a lot of blood and it is mixed with the faeces, severe abdominal pain, anaemia caused by loss of blood, weakness and tiredness. Rectal cancer typically causes bleeding from the back passage as well as the need for frequent bowel movement.

Most of these symptoms are ambiguous, since they can be caused by something else than cancer. However, it is a matter of concern if more than one symptom occurs as well as if they persist for a longer period of time.

If the cancerous growth starts blocking the large intestine, the patient can experience recurring waves of pain in the lower abdomen. If the colon is completely blocked, this results in constipation, acute pain and vomiting. In this case, an emergency operation is required, since the obstruction of the bowel situation may result in gangrene.

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