Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Colorectal cancer symptoms

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.

colorectal cancer symptoms

Colon cancer symptoms

Colon polyps may begin as benign tumors and develop into cancer. Once the polyp turns to cancer, the slow growth and spread of the tumor within the colon (large intestine) may produce some noticeable symptoms.

The large intestine is an important part of the digestive system where the body absorbs water and nutrients. The large intestine is also involved in the process of ridding the body of waste. Colon cancer may affect the large intestine's ability to perform some of these functions, causing changes in bowel habits or unexplained weight loss.

However, in the early stages of the disease, there are usually no obvious symptoms of colon cancer. Early detection is possible by following the guidelines for regular screening.

If colon cancer symptoms are present, they will vary depending on the tumor's size and location in the large intestine. The symptoms are often characterized as localized changes that affect bowel habits or overall systematic changes that affect your whole body, such as fatigue and weight loss.

Some changes in bowels habits may be considered colon cancer signs. They include:

  • Change in frequency of bowel movements
  • Constipation
  • Change in consistency of stool (loose or watery stools)
  • Blood in stools (either as bright red spots or dark "tarry" stools)
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain (bloating, gas or cramps)
  • Feeling you cannot completely empty your bowels

Understanding cancer symptoms

These symptoms may be attributed to a number of conditions other than cancer. If you notice any cancer signs or symptoms, it's important to visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

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