Colorectal Cancer Symptoms & Signs
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What Are the Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?
In the early stages of the disease, colorectal cancer symptoms may be minimal, or not present at all. As the disease progresses, symptoms may increase in quantity and degree of severity. Because colorectal cancer symptoms often do not present themselves until the disease has progressed past the initial stage, regular screening is recommended, and should be part of a continued health plan for anyone over 50. If you are under 50 and have a family history of colorectal cancer or other risk factors, you should talk with your doctor about when you should start regular screening.
Types of Colorectal Cancer Symptoms
Colorectal cancer signs and symptoms can be broken down into two general categories: local and systemic.
Local Colorectal Cancer Symptoms
Local symptoms are those that have a direct effect on the colon or rectum. If you experience symptoms of colorectal cancer for an extended period of time, it is important that you visit your healthcare professional. Common local symptoms include:
- Changes in your bowel habits
- Alternating diarrhea and constipation
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- Abdominal bloating, cramps or discomfort
- A feeling that your bowel doesn't empty completely
- Stools that are thinner than normal
Systemic Colorectal Cancer Symptoms
Systemic colorectal cancer symptoms are those that affect your entire body. If you experience any of these for any length of time, even for only a couple of days, it is important to have your doctor or healthcare provider diagnose your symptoms. Common systemic symptoms of colorectal cancer include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Weakness or fatigue
Although the symptoms of colorectal cancer can be numerous, and often attributed to other less serious conditions, only a medical professional can make a diagnosis. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important that you seek medical attention.
Next Topic: Colorectal Cancer Screening