Common Colon Cancer Symptoms You Should Never Ignore


What is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is a cancer of the large intestine. It begins with an abnormal growth in the intestine’s tissue lining called polyps. Polyps can either be cancerous or noncancerous in nature. In a colon cancer patient, these polyps increase in size and impede the intestine's normal function. The colon cancer might spread to other parts of the body. Colon cancer is most commonly found in people belonging to the older demographic (aged 50 plus). When common colon cancer symptoms are ignored and not diagnosed at an early stage, they have a tendency to become life-threatening. Based on a statistical survey by the American Cancer Society, around 149,500 new colon cancer cases and 52,980 deaths will be reported in the USA in 2021. This makes colon cancer the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths.


Most Common Symptoms

In the early stages of the disease, colon cancer patients experience minor or no symptoms. Some early warning signs can help detect and prevent it from spreading. Here are the most common colon cancer symptoms that need to be taken very seriously

  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Changes in your bowel habits
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Narrow stools
  • Persistent abdominal pain, such as cramps or gas
  • Tenesmus, which is the feeling your bowel doesn’t empty completely
  • Anemia caused by iron deficiency
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained loss of appetite

Colon Cancer Risk Factors

Factors that put you at high risk of colon cancer are as following:

  • Older age. Colon cancer is more common in people aged 50 years or older
  • African-American race. African-Americans have a greater risk of colon cancer as compared to people of other races
  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Family history of cancerous and noncancerous polyps
  • Chronic inflammatory diseases
  • Inherited syndromes like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and Lynch syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC)
  • Low-fiber, high-fat diet
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Previous exposure to radiation therapy
preventative measure

Early Detection & Prevention

'Prevention is better than cure,' and it is absolutely true in this case. Consult your doctor about when to begin your colon cancer screening. According to guidelines, people aged 50 years or older should start their regular colon cancer screenings to detect the disease. Patients who chose regular colonoscopies were 46% less likely to develop colon cancer and 88% less likely to die of it when screened at recommended ten-year intervals. People under 50 who have a family history of colon or other cancers are also at high risk. It is recommended that they consult their doctor regarding colon cancer screening to prevent the disease from spreading its roots.

To reduce the risk of colon cancer, you need to switch to a healthier lifestyle. You can take the following steps to make small changes in your everyday life:

  • Increase intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are rich in vitamins and nutrients
  • Stop drinking alcohol or limit the amount you consume
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain your weight
Road ahead

Colon Cancer Treatment

A suspected colon cancer patient undergoes various laboratory and clinical tests to confirm the diagnosis. The most common tests recommended by doctors are colonoscopy and barium enema. Other diagnosis methods are fecal occult blood test, stool DNA test, flexible virtual colonoscopy. After the confirmation of the diagnosis, a CT scan, transrectal ultrasound, or PET scan is conducted to determine the stage of the disease. No treatment can be planned unless a piece of tumor tissue (biopsy) is removed during colonoscopy and the final diagnosis made by a pathologist.

There are various treatment options available to help control colon cancer. This includes surgery, radiation therapy, and drug treatments, such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. 'Robotic Colorectal Surgery' has emerged as an effective, minimally invasive treatment of choice.