Colorectal cancer or colon cancer shows no significant signs and symptoms in the early stages. However, it becomes evident when it starts spreading. Colon cancer is one of the top three cancers diagnosed in Singapore. These signs and symptoms may indicate colon cancer, so consulting with your health provider is essential.
Many prominent cancer research organizations, such as the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Singapore Cancer Society, recommend colorectal cancer screening for men and women over 50. Risk factors such as family history, age, obesity, and lifestyle habits can increase the risk of colon cancer. Therefore, frequent screening can ensure early detection and provide peace of mind.
Understanding risk factors is vital because many colon cancer symptoms can result from lifestyle habits and can be hereditary.
- Family History: Research suggests that people are at higher risk if someone in their family has colon cancer. For example, according to ACS, one of three colon cancer patients has had a family history of this disease. So colon cancer screening becomes essential for people over 50 and with family history.
- Obesity: Being overweight increases the risk of colon cancer in men and women, although the association appears to be higher in men.
- Lack of Nutritional Diet: Certain food products such as processed poultry or red meat may increase the colon cancer risk. However, it’s not clear which dietary components are responsible for the disease.
- Inactive Lifestyle: People having regular exercise have a lower risk of colon cancer than those without an active lifestyle.
- Smoking and Drinking: Heavy consumption of alcohol or smoking habits have been linked to various types of cancers, including colon cancer. So limiting these can prove beneficial for overall health.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer:
The colon cancer signs and symptoms can depend on the size and growth of the tumor; it can become more prominent if it reaches an advanced stage.
- Changes in stool color: Having blood in your stool is a possible indicator of colon cancer, so be on the lookout for it. Bleeding from colon cancer can create dark-colored stools or even black-and-sticky ones. To determine the severity of colon cancer, your provider can suggest a fecal occult blood test.
- Change in bowel habits: A sign of colon cancer is irregular bowel movements. For example, it is possible to get a sensation of having passed a stool, only to discover that there is no stool to be released at all. Diarrhea or constipation can also be an indication of colon cancer.
- Anemia: A low hemoglobin level in the blood is known as anemia. Colon cancer-related blood loss can cause this to occur. Anemia is characterized by fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. In addition, your skin may appear to be lacking in color.
- Abdominal Discomfort: It’s not uncommon to suffer some discomfort in the abdomen from time to time. However, if you frequently have gas, cramps, and bloating, you may be at a higher risk of developing colon cancer than the average person.
- Weight Loss: People with colon cancer can experience weight loss despite having a good diet. Some can also feel lower appetite when the disease reaches its advanced stage.
These signs and symptoms may or may not be an indication of colon cancer. The best way to find out is by consulting a doctor, who may suggest procedures such as endoscopy or colonoscopy to ascertain the cause of the symptoms experienced.
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.