Colon Cancer Symptoms: What Are They?

You’ve probably heard on TV that you need to have regular screenings for colorectal cancer when you’re of a certain age. However, knowing the main colon cancer symptoms can make you better prepared to know when you have a problem and should seek medical help.

Recognizing when you might have colon cancer and telling your doctor about specific symptoms can allow you to get timely treatment so that the colon cancer doesn’t spread. Here’s a short guide to the main things to watch out for.

As with any complex illness, however, it’s important to realize that these symptoms could point to many less serious problems. This is why it’s important to give your doctor a complete picture of all your symptoms and let them decide what action, if any, should be taken.

1.   Bowel movements

Your bowel movements should be regular and easy. When bowels get disrupted, it’s easy to fear the worst (relying on Dr. Google doesn’t help). However, changes in bowel movements could be a warning sign of colorectal cancer.

If your bowel movements change significantly and refuse to revert to a comfortable or normal state, you may want to ask your doctor about colorectal screening.

There are a few changes to watch out for. The most prominent is narrow stools that are difficult to pass, which could be associated with diarrhea and constipation as well. Especially if any of these things persist, you should talk to your doctor.

If your rectum is bleeding dark or bright red (you may first see it in your stools), it could be an early warning sign of colon cancer.

2.   Pain areas

The main pain area for colon cancer is the abdomen, particularly when associated with bloating or uncomfortable cramping. This, of course, could be a symptom of something less serious related to your gastrointestinal system. However, it could be an early symptom of colon cancer.

3.   Weight

Some of us may rejoice when we notice weight loss. However, weight loss that occurs when we’ve made no significant changes to activity levels or diet could be a warning sign for an underlying condition like colon cancer. In this case, this is often accompanied by a loss of appetite (this could cause weight loss as well).

In addition, your weight may be lowered due to nausea and vomiting associated with the early stages of colon cancer. Jaundice and anemia are also not uncommon, which can affect how you look and feel.

If you notice yellowing in the whites of your eyes, you may be experiencing a deficiency related to the condition of your red blood cells, which could be a sign of colon cancer.

4.   Energy levels

This is a symptom that should not be taken too seriously if it’s temporary. However, chronically low energy levels accompanied by fatigue could be an early warning sign of colon cancer and should not be taken lightly.

If you feel like sleep never seems to help your chronic tiredness, you should talk to your doctor about the possibility of colon cancer screening in conjunction with your other symptoms.

The Takeaway

Colon cancer can start with subtle symptoms that could be many things. A loss of appetite, rectal bleeding, changes in bowel movements, abdominal cramps, or chronically low energy levels can all be early warning signs that you may have colon cancer. Talk to your doctor about the possibility of being screened so that you can rule out colon cancer as a cause of your symptoms or start getting it treated right away. With any cancer, the earlier you find it, the better your chances will be.