Early Symptoms of Colon Cancer in Women and Men

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Blood on or in the stool

This sign can occur in both women and men with colon cancer. For many patients, it may be the most alarming symptom that makes them to see a doctor for the diagnosis of the underlying condition of the problem.

But while it could be a warning sing of bowel cancer, it also often points to other conditions. For instance, many times it is caused by a condition called hemorrhoids, inflamed /swollen veins in the lower rectum or anus.

Hemorrhoids are usually caused by excessive straining in a bowel movement. Typically, these are pretty common in people with ‘diet low in fiber’. Lack of dietary fiber can make the stool go hardly – as a result, you may need to strain more in your bowel movements.

Typically, blood from hemorrhoids looks fresh with ‘bright red’ since the inflammation usually occurs in the lower part of rectum.

But blood coming out from upper part of the rectum or colon is more likely to become darker and not-fresh. In the stool, the blood looks like tar. However, it also doesn’t definitely point to colon cancer since it may be caused by other conditions higher up the bowel such as a bleeding ulcer.

Abdominal pain

This sign can be attributed by many causes and health conditions, too. Since your colon is an essential part of your digestive system, if there is something goes awry with your colon, you can experience some abdominal discomforts such as bloating or even abdominal pain.

The good news, most cases of abdominal pain is harmless and even will improve on its own. Furthermore, many people with it don’t have bowel cancer, but sometime it could be an early sign of this cancer.

At the later stages of colon cancer, the abdominal discomforts may be followed with pelvic pain.

The obstruction of bowel

This is a serious medical emergency that should be treated immediately. The obstruction can affect the way of digestive waste to go out from the body through a bowel movement.

In some cases, colon and rectal cancer (typically at advanced stage) can lead to a bowel obstruction, causing some of the following symptoms:

  1. Stomach pain, it can be severe enough to affect your daily routines – though it may initially come & go.
  2. Bloating or swelling of the tummy.
  3. You may also be easier to have vomiting.
  4. And at severe case, you may not be able to pass stools at all.

For summary, the disease usually doesn’t cause early signs and symptoms. If they do occur, these can be vogue. But along with the progression of the cancer, most women and men who are eventually diagnosed with this cancer have one of the following sign and symptom combinations:

  1. Change in the bowel movement habit (persistent change). This includes more often going to the toilet and followed with passing looser stools and blood on /in the stools.
  2. Persistent change in bowel movement without blood in the stool, but followed with another unusual symptoms such as abdominal pain.
  3. Blood in the stool, even though you don’t have symptoms of hemorrhoids (such as pain, discomfort, itching, or soreness).
  4. Abdominal discomforts (such as bloating and stomach pain) that typically provoked by eating. This may be followed with unexplained weight loss.

The early symptoms of colon cancer can be subtle. Many times these don’t necessarily make you feel ill, too.

When to see a doctor promptly?

If you in-doubt to any symptoms related to colon cancer, it’s better to see a doctor. Even though blood in stool is often linked to some harmless conditions such as hemorrhoids, but if it is persistent, you should not ignore it!

Again, most cancers (including cancer of colon) are relatively easier to treat when it is diagnosed at early stage. So, it’s important to have the diagnosis of the disease as early as possible.

If necessary, discus to your doctor whether you need to start taking a screening test for cancer! This procedure is typically recommended for those who are at the age of 50 or older since the disease is relatively more common in older people.

But if you have many risk factors for colon cancer, you may need to take the screening test earlier. And if your doctor believes that you have the disease, he /she usually will perform a simple physical examination in your bottom and tummy to look for any lumps. A blood test may also be necessary to look for anemia (iron deficiency) that may signal a bleeding in the bowel.

Citations /references:

  1. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/bowel-cancer/about/types-of-bowel-cancer
  2. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colon-cancer/basics/symptoms/con-20031877


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