Colon cancer is a tumorous growth that develops in the large intestine or rectum, both of which are located in the lower part of the digestive system. At its early stages, colon cancer shows no obvious symptoms that’s why it’s important to be aware of these early signs in order to take the right measures to prevent any worst-case scenarios. Below are 10 warning signs of colon cancer you shouldn’t ignore.
Constipation is an important sign of cancer in the colon. An earlier 2004 study published in the European Journal of Cancer supported the hypothesis that the use of constipation laxative increases the risk of colon cancer. A tumour present at the far end of the colon can make it very difficult to eliminate waste products, thereby causing constipation.
Suffering from diarrhoea for more than a couple of weeks may be an early symptom of colon cancer. When a tumour partially obstructs the bowel, it can cause alternating constipation and diarrhoea due to leakage of liquid stool. You may also experience frequent gas, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Also, a tumour may irritate or narrow the lining of the intestine.
3. Blood in Stools
In most cases, blood in the stool is due to piles where the veins in the rectum become fragile and cause a little bleeding during a bowel movement. This type of bleeding is generally red, however, if you notice dark red or black blood in your stool, it can be a sign of cancer such as fowl rectal or colon cancer. It can also be due to a stomach ulcer.
4. Constant Urge to Ease Bowels
If you have a constant feeling of urgently needing to have a bowel movement or to strain but no stool is passed, it’s not a good sign. This feeling can occur even after defecating. Changes in your pattern of bowel movement can be a sign of colon cancer. It can occur when a tumour blocks the bowel and prevents you from completely emptying your bowels.
5. Gas and Bloating Most
People suffer from gas and bloating occasionally but if the problem occurs along with any of the symptoms on this list, it may be an indication of a tumour growing in the colon. A tumour obstructs the colon and depending on the severity of the blockage, gas, solid and liquid may be prevented from passing out of the body, which in turn causes progressive bloating as well as gas.
6. Tender Abdomen or Abdominal Pain
If the lower part of your abdomen hurts or feels tender when touched, it can be an early indication of tumour growth in the digestive tract, colon or rectum. This is common in people who’re later diagnosed with colon cancer. A tumour can cause a block in the colon, restricting blood flow, which leads to abdominal pain that can be severe. This pain can also indicate that cancer has begun to spread to other organs.
7. Unexplained Anaemia
Anaemia refers to a low red blood cell count in the body. The haemoglobin in red blood cells carries oxygen throughout the body. Symptoms of anaemia such as pale skin, a faster irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness and cold hands and feet should not be taken lightly. Unexplained anaemia may be due to colon cancer, typically cancer in the right side of the colon causes iron deficiency anaemia. This happens when tumours start bleeding slowly into the digestive tract causing blood loss over time.
8. Unexplained weight loss
If you’re above the age of 50 and rapidly losing weight for no apparent reason, it’s a cause for concern. Sudden unexplained weight loss can indicate a serious health problem including colon or rectal cancer.
Another early symptom of colon cancer is fatigue. In general, mild fatigue and tiredness after doing a laborious task are to be expected but if you feel tired and weak most of the time despite resting, do not take it lightly. Large polyps or tumours in the colon can lead to iron-deficiency anaemia, which causes lower oxygen levels in the blood, contributing to fatigue. Fatigue and weakness can also be related to several chronic illnesses and medical disorders.
10. Narrow Stools
Thin narrow stools are also a warning of possible colon cancer. A tumour present in the left side of the colon obstructs the passageway and often leads to narrow stools.
If you experience any of these signs, consult a doctor as early as possible to rule out the possibility of fatal cancer.
Thanks for reading and see you in the next article.
Dedicated to Chadwick Boseman (of blessed memory), a true superhero.
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