The symptoms of colon cancer are not always easy to link to the disease, but some knowledge about them can help patients identify which symptoms should be brought to the attention of cancer specialists. Since the colon is part of the digestive system, when a cancer hits it, the earliest symptoms will affect a person’s digestive process. Unfortunately, since stomach upsets can be common and may not alert a person of an underlying disease, colon cancer is not easy to identify. This is why many cancer specialists recommend that people should get regular screening especially once they hit the age of 50 when the risk for colon cancer significantly increases.
Local Symptoms of Colon Cancer
When the symptoms start manifesting, they often come from either of two varieties: local and systemic. Local symptoms are those that affect the colon itself, which means they also affect the patient’s bathroom habits. These include abnormal changes in bowel movement, constipation, diarrhea, or both in an intermittent/alternating schedule, and bloody or black stools. Some patients also experience ‘pencil stools’ or stools that are very thin and does not seem to completely empty the body of waste. These may also be accompanied by abdominal discomfort, bloating, gas pains, and cramps. If a patient experiences these symptoms and they do not go away for one week, two weeks, or longer, he should approach a hospital and arrange for tests.
Systemic Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Systemic symptoms, on the other hand, are those that affect not just the digestive system but the entire body. These include rapid weight loss without any effort to reduce weight, loss of appetite, unexplained fatigue, anemia, jaundice, nausea, and vomiting. If these manifest in a patient, even for just a few days, he should call a doctor immediately for testing. (more…)