Colon cancer: Essential facts

10 Warning Signs of Colon Cancer You Shouldn’t Ignore

Blood in Stools
If you find blood on, or mixed in with your stools, then this could be sign that you have bowel cancer. The blood may be dark, or bright red, and mixed with mucus. Once you see your doctor, they will send off a stool sample for a laboratory analysis called a fecal occult blood test.

Changes in Stools
If you notice that your stools are very dark in color, or even maroon, and sticky, then this could be caused by bleeding due to bowel cancer. You may experience normal bowel movements in between these stools. You may also notice your stools becoming very narrow or ribbon-like, and the stool may only be as wide in diameter as a pen.

Rectal Bleeding
According to an article published in the July 2009 issue of “BMC Medicine: “Bleeding from the rectum occurs in more than half of people with colon cancer.” The blood is usually bright red and it may be found in the toilet bowl water or on the toilet paper. The blood may come after a painful bowel movement.

Trouble Passing Stool
Changes in passing of stools is a symptom of bowel cancer. You may experience a feeling of not completely passing a stool or you may feel the urgent need to have a bowel movement, and then you realize that there is no stool to be passed.

The blood that is lost from bowel cancer can cause anemia, which is a shortage of red blood cells in the blood. The symptoms of anemia are feeling tired a lot of the time, weak, and short of breath. Your skin may also look pale.

Abdominal Pain
A certain amount of abdominal discomfort is normal experience at times. However, if you suffer from gas, cramping and bloating a lot of the time, then you could be more likely to develop bowel cancer. It is best to see your doctor about your concerns.

Weight Loss
Bowel cancer can result in weight loss even if you are eating normally. Alternatively, you may experience complete loss of appetite. According to the July 2009, “BMC Medicine” article, more than a third of people with bowel cancer experience unexplained weight loss.

Constipation that persists more than a few days also may occur in association with colon cancer. Chronic or on-going constipation may even increase your risk of developing colon cancer.

Persistent diarrhea is a symptom of bowel cancer. According to the “BMC Medicine” article, more than 1 in 5 people with colon cancer will experience diarrhea.

Nausea and Vomiting
If you are experiencing persistent nausea and vomiting for no apparent reason, then this may be a symptom of colon cancer. It is possible to experience these with or without other abdominal symptoms.

So if you suspect that something is wrong, go to see your doctor, as early detection is a key to the best possible outcome.


Early cases can begin as noncancerous polyps. These often have no symptoms but can be detected by screening. For this reason, doctors recommend screenings for those at high risk or over the age of 50.

Symptoms may vary depending on the cancer’s size and location, but often include alterations in bowel habits.

Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

The large intestine is about one to one-and-a-half meter long. It is part of the intestinal canal which is between the small intestine and the rectum.

A sphincter between the small and large intestine prevents digested matter from retreating. The large intestine consists of an appendix and an ascending intestine, a transverse and declining large intestine, and the s-shaped large intestine which ends at the rectum. The large intestine consists of two layers of smooth muscular tissue covered by mucosa. Liquid fluid is absorbed in the large intestine, and becomes more compact as it progresses through the intestinal tract. The stool is stored in the rectum, Irregular bowel habits or stools containing blood are cause to see a doctor. The doctor examines the stomach and checks the rectum with one finger. With the reason for suspecting cancer the rectum is examined by performing a rectoscopy.

A tissue sample may be taken. Further examinations of the rectum and intestines is done by coloscopy. In this procedure a flexible tube is inserted via the rectum. Tissue samples may be taken. Cancer found in the large intestine amount to approximately 15 % of all cancer recurrences in Norway. Second to breast cancer found in women, and prostate cancer in men, cancer found in the large intestine and rectum is the most common found in both sexes. Most cases arise without definite cause, with approximately five percent being inherited.

Even though a great number of cancer cases remain localized in the large intestine or rectum, some tumors may grow directly into the abdominal wall, diaphragm, liver, stomach, duodenum, small intestine, pancreas, kidney, or spleen. The cancer cells may liberate from the tumor, and be transported, via the blood stream to other parts of the body..

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Colon cancer: Essential facts

This information is collected from Oncolex. For more on colon and rectum (bowel / colorectal) cancer see: