Colon is a muscular, tube-shaped organ located at the lower part of your digestive system. It makes up the main portion of the large intestine. The organ has a key role in helping the body taking in nutrients, water, and minerals. It also helps in removing waste of the body in the form of stool.
Colon cancer is the growth of malignant tumor in the tissue of the colon (in the inner wall of the organ). It is somewhat different from rectal cancer, which is located at the last few inches of the colon (rectum). When left untreated, colon cancer can eventually spread to distant organs all over the body.
Although colon cancer may have numerous symptoms, in the early stages of the disease many suffering from colon cancer experience no symptoms. When the symptoms appear, they tend to vary, depending on the location and size of the cancer in the large intestine. Unfortunately the symptoms of colon cancer are not always obvious. For that reason, it is important for you to learn what the cancer symptoms look and feel like, so you can be aware of the disease for your long-term health.
It is important to note that most of colon cancer cases start as small, noncancerous clumps of cells known as polyps. By time some of these polyps could become cancers. That is why doctors often suggest regular screening tests after the age of 50. This is a way to promote early detection of colon cancer by recognizing polyps before they grow as cancer.
There are 3 symptoms that might tell you that you have colon cancer:
1. Abdominal, bowel and rectal discomfort
Persistent abdominal discomfort, including cramps, gas, pain, constipation, or diarrhea is the commonest symptom of colon cancer. Be careful if you often have a feeling that your bowel does not completely because the cancer can be the cause of the condition. In addition, a change in bowel habits, which includes rectal bleeding and a change in stool consistency, might tell the development colon cancer.
2. Anemia and fatigue
Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia showed by low iron in your red blood cells, or low red blood cell along with extreme tiredness or fatigue is often a strong sign of severe diseases. In fact, fatigue is among the commonest side effects of colon cancer and its treatment. It usually comes on all of a sudden, does not come from exertion or activity, and is not lightened by rest or sleep. Cancer-related fatigue is frequently described as “paralyzing” and may remain after treatment is complete.
In case of cancer, fatigue is likely because the cancerous cells competing for nutrients. Deficiencies of nutrients make the body lacks of energy and feel tired most of the time. Also, lower number or red blood cells leads to severe fatigue due to lower oxygen supply they can carry to the whole part of the body.
3. Loss of appetite leading to unexplained weight loss
If you lose weight due to great loss of appetite while you are not dieting or attempting to lose weight, then you should be careful. That could be a red flag of colon cancer. The discomfort and pain caused by a tumor can bring loss of appetite, which in turn will lead to weight loss. When weight loss happen, it could be an indication that a tumor is generating chemicals that are boosting metabolism of the body.
The loss of appetite related with cancer is also because a tumor growing toward the end of the colon may bring a sense of fullness. It is when body senses that there is something unusual present by the exit. In other words, the body may see the tumor as a stubborn part of waste, so the sufferer acquires that “need to go” sensation, which cannot be relieved as long as the tumor is there.
When most of these symptoms appear, do not hesitate to talk with your doctor. It is time to make an appointment with your doctor immediately to discuss the situation and to arrange for tests so that the root cause of your symptoms can be understood. Remember that you should not be afraid of colon cancer screening and there is nothing to be embarrassed about it. If needed, you can always ask the doctor to schedule for follow-up tests.