Rectal Cancer Symptoms & Signs
Learn More About Rectal Cancer Symptoms: Chat with Us | Email Us
What Are the Symptoms of Rectal Cancer?
The symptoms of rectal cancer may be similar to those of other bowel diseases, like ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease or even colon or colorectal cancers. Often there are no early symptoms of either colon or rectal cancer. However, as the cancer develops, rectal cancer symptoms may become more persistent and severe. Whereas, people with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), like ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, may experience periods of remission where the symptoms subside.
Rectal Cancer Signs
The development of tumors in the rectum or anal canal may change the consistency, shape or frequency of bowel movements. The severity of the symptoms may increase or more symptoms might arise as the cancer spreads throughout the rectum or into the colon. Rectal bleeding may make the stool bright red. A bleeding tumor may also change the color of the stools, sometimes making the stool very dark or tarry looking.
Rectal cancer signs related to bowel habit changes may include:
- Not being able to completely empty the bowel
- Change in the size or shape of stools (narrower than usual)
- Bloody stool (either bright red or very dark)
General Rectal Cancer Symptoms
Early stages of rectal cancer may have no symptoms. However, more systemic (body-wide) changes may result as the tumor goes deeper into the layers of tissues lining the rectum or if the cancer spreads (metastasizes) throughout the body.
Generalized symptoms of rectal cancer may include:
- Pain in the rectum
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- More frequent gas pains or stomach cramps
- Feeling bloated or full
- Change in appetite
- Unintended weight loss
- Fatigue or tiredness
Understanding the Symptoms of Rectal Cancer
Rectal cancer symptoms may be a sign of other conditions or related gastrointestinal (GI) diseases. Some symptoms, like bloody stools or extreme abdominal pain, should prompt a visit to the doctor. Experiencing any one of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have cancer, but it may be a sign of another condition that could be improved through treatment. If you do have symptoms, an evaluation or screening may make it possible to detect the cancer when it is still in the early stages, before it spreads throughout the body.
If you are experiencing any rectal cancer signs or symptoms, or you believe you may be at risk because of a related genetic syndrome, you should talk to you doctor. There are several screening methods available that can detect polyps or cancer. A screening may make it possible to find the cancer before symptoms appear.
NOTE: These symptoms may be attributed to a number of conditions other than cancer. It is important to consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Next Topic: Rectal Cancer Diagnosis