10 Colon Cancer Symptoms

By dr. okoye
Reviewed: Dr. Mera
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20439214
  • 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2361444/
Medical Expert Medical Expert

Colon cancer is a type of gastrointestinal cancer that can affect the final part of the digestive tract, the large intestine. In some cases, it can also be referred to as colorectal cancer, because the rectum can also be affected. Importantly, in the US, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and third most common cause of cancer-related mortality in men and women.

Colorectal cancer is a preventable disease. Risk factors include age (≥ 50 yo), diet (i.e. high in red meats and animal fat, low in fiber, fruits and vegetables), genetic predisposition, obesity, low physical activity, smoking, and excessive alcohol intake. Most of these factors can be modified by following professional lifestyle recommendations. However, early detection through screening programs is just as important to reduce colon cancer mortality.

Symptom #1: Constipation

The main problem with colon cancer is that these patients might not experience any symptoms at all until cancer has reached its late stages. These patients can also experience symptoms that are not as alarming as one would think.

Take constipation as an example. We all have experienced constipation at some point in our lives, so why would one think that it is a symptom of colon cancer and report it to the doctor? The most common causes of constipation are usually modifiable lifestyle factors. Lack of exercise, not ingesting enough food with fiber, and low fluid intake are general common causes of constipation. However, the truth is that constipation is among the first symptoms of colon cancer. It can be caused by many reasons. For example, the malignant growth can alter normal bowel movements, specifically by narrowing or partially blocking the bowel. If it completely blocks the bowel, it is called a bowel obstruction.

Colon Cancer

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