The colon is an important part of the human digestive system, responsible for removing water as well as absorbing certain nutrients and electrolytes from partially digested food. Colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, is a serious type of cancer that develops in colorectal tissues. It’s a deadly disease, and early detection is key to receiving effective treatment and improving one’s chances of survival. Here are the symptoms and warning signs to watch out for:
1. Changes in bowel movements: This can include persistent constipation, diarrhea, or loose stools, along with changes in stool size, shape, or color. It might also involve greater difficulty than usual during defecation due to an inability to completely empty the bowels, or several bouts of constipation or diarrhea within a short period of time.
2. Abdominal pain and discomfort: This feeling can range from mild discomfort to severe pain in the abdomen, as well as general bloating or cramping. It may also feel similar to gas pains or indigestion.
3. Unexpected weight loss: Unexplained weight loss is one of the classic signs of colorectal cancer and it should not be taken lightly. If you find yourself losing a substantial amount of weight without changing your diet or exercise habits, contact your doctor without delay.
4. General weakness and fatigue: Many colorectal cancer patients experience overall weakness and body fatigue unassociated with physical activity. This is often one of the more noticeable colorectal cancer symptoms in patients who have yet to be diagnosed. Anemia can also be an associated symptom due to the bleeding that can happen in a case of colorectal cancer.
5. Changes in appetite: Many people with colorectal cancer have reported significant changes in their appetite – specifically, a decreased interest in eating.
6. Nausea and vomiting: Patients may experience feelings of nausea, which can lead to vomiting depending on the severity of the cancer. In some cases, the vomit may contain traces of blood or even large amounts of bloody material if there is bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract.
7. Constipation alternating with diarrhea: This symptom involves periods where constipation and diarrhea follow one another, usually for an extended period of time.
8. Pain in the rectum or anus: This may manifest as a feeling of pressure or soreness within the rectal area. In addition, unexplained rectal bleeding can manifest as bright red blood in the stool or more general rectal bleeding that shows up as streaks on toilet paper after wiping.
9. Bowel obstruction: If colorectal cancer is severe enough, it can cause a partial or complete obstruction of the bowel, preventing any material from passing through, leading to extreme discomfort.
10. Abnormal breathing: Colorectal cancer may spread to the lungs or airways, and can cause shortness of breath, frequent coughing, and chest pain.
11. Blood in the stool: Bloody stool is one of the more common colorectal cancer symptoms, usually appearing as streaks on toilet paper after wiping, or occasionally with a small amount of bright red blood in the stool itself.
12. A swollen abdomen: This usually occurs due to colorectal cancer spreading to other areas such as the abdomen, which causes bloating and general abdominal swelling, along with discomfort.
13. Low iron levels: This is another symptom associated with colorectal cancer due to the loss of blood that occurs as a result of it.
14. Unusual lumps in the abdomen: In some cases, colorectal cancer may cause lumps or masses in the abdominal area.
15. Persistent coughing or hoarseness: If colorectal cancer has spread to the lungs, it may result in persistent coughing or hoarseness, and can even lead to pneumonia.
Colon cancer is a serious, potentially life-threatening form of cancer. Someone who’s aware of the symptoms and early warning signs detailed above can seek medical attention and prevent the disease from progressing to an advanced stage. Early detection through self-awareness is one of the most important steps in preventing colorectal cancer from causing further harm. If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. With the help of modern medical technology, colorectal cancer can be detected early on, giving patients a greater chance of survival and successful treatment than ever before.