Maintaining a happy and healthy life is not just about getting regular exercise and eating a balanced meal. It’s also important to understand the early warning signs of different types of cancers so that you can get treatment sooner rather than later. With colorectal cancer being the second most common cancer killer and the third most common cancer in the United States, it pays to know the early signs of colon cancer.
One of the biggest reasons that colorectal cancer is so deadly is that most people don’t experience a plethora of symptoms at first. This type of cancer is caused by abnormal colon or rectum growths, known as colorectal polyps. When these abnormal growths are not removed, they can turn cancerous over a period of 10 to 15 years. This is why it’s so vital that you undergo regular colorectal cancer screenings to help identify any of these colorectal polyps as early as possible.
Symptoms and Warning Signs of Colorectal Cancer
Once these colorectal polyps turn cancerous, you’ll start to experience some key symptoms of colon cancer. It’s important to seek further evaluation from a medical professional if you’re experiencing the following colon cancer symptoms:
- Blood in Your Stool
- Feeling Your Bowels Won’t Empty Completely
- Bowel Habit Changes
- Cramps, Aches, or Abdominal Pain That Linger
- Unexplained Weight Loss
- Low Red Blood Count
How Can People Recognize the Symptoms and Warning Signs of Colorectal Cancer?
After reading the list above of all the different colon cancer symptoms, you’ll likely surmise they overlap with many other types of conditions. For example, if you have a change in your bowel habits or abdominal pain, it could be the result of hemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome. It can be easy, at first, to blame these colon cancer signs on other conditions or simply ignore them altogether.
One of the best things that you can do for your health is to pay attention to any differences that you experience, such as consistent abdominal pain or unexplained weight loss. Have a medical professional you feel comfortable with so that you are more inclined to call them when you start to experience these colon cancer signs. It’s best to get the situation checked out, even if you believe it isn’t colorectal cancer, so your medical professional can diagnose properly and track your medical history.
Benefits of Recognizing the Symptoms and Warning Signs of Colorectal Cancer Early
Typically, the sooner that colorectal cancer is diagnosed, the more treatable it can be. When cancer is small and has not spread, there are usually more treatment options available than when it’s larger and has spread to other areas of the body. When you seek medical assistance because you notice some of the early warning signs of colon cancer, it allows you to get a professional diagnosis early. Again, the earlier you can get a diagnosis, the more treatment options you’ll have available to you.
Best Practices for Recognizing the Symptoms and Warning Signs of Colorectal Cancer
Since the symptoms of colon cancer tend to develop after cancer has reached later stages, it’s extremely helpful to undergo regular screening. A few different types of tests may be utilized to help screen for colon cancer. These include stool tests, flexible signal sigmoidoscopy, CT colonography, and a colonoscopy.
As a general rule of thumb, stool tests are done once a year. Some of the most common include a guaiac-based fecal occult blood test, fecal immunochemical test, and FIT-DNA test. All of these tests are meant to identify if there’s blood in the stool. If it’s determined that there is, you’ll have to undergo a full colonoscopy for a proper diagnosis.
A flexible sigmoidoscopy can be done every 5 to 10 years. This test involves your doctor inserting a small, flexible tube with a light into your rectum. They will look for polyps or cancer in the lower third of your rectum.
A CT colonography, also known as a virtual colonoscopy, can be done every five years. This uses x-rays to produce a computer image of your entire colon, so your doctor can examine it for polyps and cancer.
Lastly, a colonoscopy is the best diagnosis method for colon problems. Somewhat similar to a flexible sigmoidoscopy, your doctor will use a thin, flexible tube with a light to examine the entire colon for cancer and polyps. Your doctor can remove the polyps, cancer, or even biopsy tissue during a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years and is the main test utilized for identifying any inconsistencies found with the other testing methods mentioned above.