Colon cancer is a serious disease, but it is easier to treat if it is detected early. Colon cancer may not cause symptoms in its early stages, but the sooner it is caught, the easier it is to treat. If you notice any of these changes and they don’t go away on their own within a few days, you should make an appointment with your doctor.
- Changes in bowel habits
One of the first symptoms of colon cancer can be a change in the bowel pattern. For example, you may have constipation, diarrhea, or loose stools. All these changes can be normal if they are temporary, but if they do not go away after a few days, you should tell your doctor.
Keep in mind that some people have long-term changes in their bowel habits due to other serious conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome. However, when your bowel habits change and don’t return to normal, you should always see your doctor to rule out cancer.
- Blood in the stool
One of the main symptoms of colon cancer is blood in the stool. In some cases, this blood can be bright red and very noticeable. It may appear on its own or be noticed only by bowel movements. In other cases, blood from colon cancer can darken the stool. Bleeding can be so minor that you don’t see it at all.
Blood in the stool can have many different causes, including hemorrhoids or other problems. However, blood on toilet paper or in your stool should be reported to your doctor, especially if it occurs more than once.
Colon cancer often causes bleeding, sometimes without you even knowing it. Anemia can occur with regular bleeding. Anemia is a condition in which there are too few red blood cells to effectively carry oxygen throughout the body.
You may know you have anemia through a routine blood test, or you may suspect it if you experience symptoms of anemia, such as extreme fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, cold hands and feet, or pale skin.
Anemia can have many causes, including a lack of iron in your diet. However, you may have internal bleeding and not notice it, so the cause of anemia should always be investigated to rule out more serious conditions such as colon cancer.
- Abdominal pain
Depending on the location of the tumor and other factors, some people with colon cancer may not have symptoms until the disease is in its later stages. However, for others, abdominal pain may be the first symptom of colon cancer. As with other colon cancer symptoms, abdominal pain can have many other causes. If you’re experiencing abdominal pain that isn’t caused by another condition, it’s time to talk to your doctor.
- Weight loss for no apparent reason
Unexplained weight loss is another symptom of colon cancer. In fact, unexplained weight loss can be a symptom of several types of cancer. If you lose more than ten pounds in a few months without trying, it could be a sign of a problem.
If you notice any of these changes or other symptoms of colon cancer, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Depending on the situation, your doctor may recommend blood tests, a colonoscopy, or other tests to rule out colon cancer. If you are over 50 or at high risk for the disease, it is important to get a colon cancer screening as recommended by your doctor.