Colon cancer is a fast-growing disease that occurs when the cells in the large intestine mutate and grow too quickly, forming a growth called a polyp. There are a number of different symptoms that can indicate someone has colon cancer, they can sometimes be vague and not specific to colon cancer alone. Early detection is one of the best ways to be among the more than one million people who are currently survivors, so it is important for both men and women alike to recognize the symptoms of colon cancer when they do occur. In addition, there are several risk factors that can make you more likely to develop colon cancer, some of which can be controlled and others that cannot. Though colon cancer can eventually be eliminated from the body in many cases, the treatment methods used often depend on how early the disease was treated, which will be determined by how early the person sought treatment. Here’s what you need to know about the symptoms of colon cancer.
Any change in daily bowel habits, including changes in the color or consistency of the stool, as well as unusual bouts of constipation or diarrhea, is a major warning sign that colon cancer might be present. Changes may also include the presence of blood in the stool, bleeding from the rectum, feeling that the bowels have not been emptied completely, and feeling an urgent need to make a bowel movement. The stool can appear long and thin, which may also indicate colon cancer. Sudden or persistent discomfort in the abdominal area, such as sharp pains, bloating, gas or cramping, is another common symptom of colon cancer. The area may also become painful to the touch.
Persistent pain in the pelvic area may accompany abdominal pain. The onset of weakness or fatigue is another of the major symptoms that indicate the presence of colon cancer. In addition, the disease may cause rapid and unexplainable weight loss, or loss of appetite.
Unfortunately, in some individuals there are no warning signs that colon cancer has taken root in the intestines, which is why having regular medical check-ups may help to save your life by detecting colon cancer in its earliest stages. The good news is that there is a survival rate of slightly more than 90 percent for those individuals whose colon cancer is detected in its earliest stages. However, no amount of testing or screening will help if the individual does not respond to the symptoms they may be experiencing. It is important to pay attention to the body and seek medical advice when something seems different or just not right.
There are several factors that make some individuals more likely to develop colon cancer. In addition to a family history of cancer, old age is one of the biggest factors that influences the appearance of the cancer. In fact, approximately 90 percent of all cases of colon cancer occur in those over age 50. Consider being screened for colon cancer annually starting at age 50; however, those with a family history should begin screening even sooner.
Other factors that increase the risk of developing colon cancer include obesity or living an inactive lifestyle, smoking, consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, eating a diet that is high in fat but low in fiber, and having diabetes. Though colon cancer can’t be prevented entirely, there are certain lifestyle changes that can help. Those who smoke should quit, and drinking should be done in moderation, if at all. Losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, in addition to regular exercise, can help prevent colon cancer and other diseases.
Screening for colon cancer should be done on a regular basis, especially for those in a high risk group. While the screening can be uncomfortable, it is the best way to catch colon cancer early. There are various tests that can be conducted, including:
– Colonoscopy – This test involves the doctor inserting a tiny tube into the rectum. On the tube is a camera which allows him to see the colon in its entirety and to look at any changes that many have occurred. This test is usually very effective and finding colon cancer early.
– CT Colonography – This CT scan is similar to a cat scan you would have for other issues. It focuses on the abdominal area and provides cross-sectional pictures of the colon and other abdominal organs to look for any suspicious areas.
– Fecal Occult Blood Test – This test of your feces is to check for the presence of blood in the stool.
– Flexible Sigmoidoscopy – This test looks at the bottom portion of your colon and the entire rectum.
If you have the symptoms of colon cancer, it is important to seek medical attention right away.