Colon Cancer (cont.)
Colon Cancer Symptoms
Cancer of the colon and rectum can exhibit itself in several ways. If you have any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical help.
You may notice bleeding from your rectum or blood mixed with your stool.
- People commonly attribute all rectal bleeding to hemorrhoids, thus
preventing early diagnosis owing to
lack of concern over "bleeding hemorrhoids."
- Rectal bleeding may be hidden and chronic and may show up as an iron deficiency anemia.
- It may be associated with fatigue and pale
- It usually, but not always, can be detected through a
fecal occult (hidden) blood test, in which samples of stool are submitted to a lab for detection of blood.
If the tumor gets large enough, it may
completely or partially block your colon. You may notice the following symptoms
of bowel obstruction:
distension: Your belly sticks out more than it did before without weight gain.
- Abdominal pain: This
is rare in colon cancer. One cause is tearing (perforation) of the bowel.
Leaking of bowel contents into the pelvis can cause inflammation (peritonitis)
- Unexplained, persistent nausea or vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Change in frequency or character of stool (bowel
- Small-caliber (narrow) or ribbon-like stools
- Sensation of
incomplete evacuation after a bowel movement
- Rectal pain: Pain rarely occurs with colon cancer and usually indicates a bulky tumor in the rectum that may invade surrounding tissue.
Studies suggest that the average duration of symptoms (from
onset to diagnosis) is 14 weeks. There is no association between overall
duration of symptoms and the stage of your tumor.
Robert J Fingerote, MD, MSc, BSc
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
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