10 Warning Signs of Colon Cancer
Aug 11, 2011 | By Leigh A. Zaykoski Leigh Zaykoski has been a writer and editor for six years. Her medical writing has appeared on dozens of websites. Zaykoski attended the University of Pittsburgh and Keystone College, studying microbiology and business administration. She is currently pursuing a medical writing certification.
Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2005 over 141,000 people were diagnosed with this disease. Colon cancer can cause a number of changes that affect the digestive organs. Knowing the ten warning signs of colon cancer can help people identify causes for concern and help them get diagnosed as early as possible, leading to more positive outcomes.
Blood in Stool
Blood in the stool is one of the warning signs of colon cancer. The blood may be bright red and clearly visible after each bowel movement. Blood may also be black, causing the stool to take on a tarry appearance. Blood cannot always be seen in the stool, so a fecal occult blood test may be performed to determine if there is hidden blood.
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Sponsored Links Persistent Diarrhea
While colon cancer may be asymptomatic in its early stages, tumor growth can cause changes in bowel habits. Someone who never had a problem with diarrhea may develop persistent diarrhea that does not clear up within a few days. Diarrhea that does not go away should be reported to a physician for evaluation.
The growth of a tumor in the colon can cause nausea and vomiting. This is because the tumor can cause pressure on the abdominal organs. Vomiting that does not go away after a few days should be evaluated by a medical professional. Diagnostic tests, such as a CT scan or x-ray, may be used to determine if a tumor is present.
Cramping Abdominal Pain
The pressure of a tumor growing in the intestine can cause cramping abdominal pain. Because abdominal pain can accompany a number of other conditions, it should be evaluated by a physician if it continues over a long period of time. Laboratory or diagnostic tests may be used to determine the cause of persistent abdominal pain.
As a tumor grows in size, it can cause persistent bloating. Someone with colon cancer may notice that the abdomen is bloated and rigid instead of soft. Bloating is also associated with premenstrual syndrome, intestinal gas and other conditions, so it needs to be evaluated to determine the cause.
Unexplained Weight Loss
Colon cancer can be signaled by unexplained weight loss. When someone with colon cancer does not feel well, he may decrease his daily food intake. The body continues to use the same amount of calories as usual, creating a calorie deficit. This causes unintended weight loss.
Decreased Stool Size
As digested food moves through intestines, it is shaped into stool. Tumors growing in the colon can make the intestines narrower, which leaves less room for digested food to move. This makes the stools narrower. Pencil-thin stools can be a cause for concern and should be reported to a medical professional.
Unexplained fatigue is associated with most types of cancer. While the exact causes of this fatigue are not known, physicians from the Mayo Clinic indicate that there are several things which can contribute to this fatigue. Some cancers release chemicals called cytokines, which are thought to cause fatigue. If the cancer destroys healthy red blood cells, someone with colon cancer can develop anemia. Anemia causes fatigue.
Change in Bowel Habits
Any change in bowel habits should be evaluated by a medical professional to determine the cause. A change in bowel habits can involve more frequent constipation, frequent diarrhea or a change in the number and consistency of bowel movements each day.
Incomplete Emptying of Bowel
After a bowel movement, the bowel should feel empty. If colon cancer is present, it can create a feeling of fullness even after a bowel movement. If this persists, and other signs of colon cancer are present, a medical examination and diagnostic tests should be performed to identify the cause.
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Sponsored Links References
Mayo Clinic: Cancer Fatigue
Centers for Disease Control: Colorectal Cancer
University of Southern California: Colon and Rectal Cancers
Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/22295-warning-signs-colon-cancer/#ixzz1rvj9QY00