Colon cancer symptoms can be confusing. Common stomach ailments or a change in bowel habits are common occurrences. They don’t always mean that you have a serious condition such as colon cancer. However, not everything should be ignored. Learn about colon cancer symptoms and when it’s a good idea to contact your physician. Common colon cancer symptoms include:
- Blood in your stool or bleeding from the rectum
- Unexplained or Unintentional weight loss
- Unexplained fatigue
- Cramping pain in the lower stomach
- A feeling of discomfort or an urge to have a bowel movement when there is no need to have one
- Change in bowel habits or blood in the toilet after having a bowel movement
- Change in the appearance of the stool, or dark / black-colored stools
Let’s take a closer look at these symptoms to determine when you should talk to your doctor about them.
Change in Bowel Habits
While it is common for people to experience a change in their bowel habits from time to time, there are some changes that should be evaluated by a physician if they persist. If you notice any of these changes to your bowel habits, take note of when the changes began to occur and any other lifestyle changes may have occurred at the same time. This information will help your physician determine the cause.
- Diarrhea. Loose stool and diarrhea are common occurrences. The condition can be caused by intolerance to certain foods, medication, stress, or exposure to bacteria (often experienced when traveling). Most people will get at least a mild case of diarrhea several times per year. In most cases, the condition will resolve itself within two to three days. Your health care provider should investigate diarrhea that lasts more than three days.
- Constipation. Constipation is defined as having less than three bowel movements in a week, and it is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints. Having constipation, however, does not mean you have colon cancer. A change in your diet, poor nutritional habits, stress, dehydration or lack of physical activity can also cause constipation. Physicians generally recommend that if you have constipation for more than two weeks, you should see your doctor so a cause can be determined.
Change in the Appearance of Stool
The way that your stool looks can be a good indicator of what is going on inside your body. Small, hard stool is an indicator of constipation. But if you notice one of these other changes, contact your physician.
- Change in Shape. If your stool becomes thin, narrow or ribbon-like this could be an indication of changes inside your colon. Contact your health care provider to have the condition evaluated.
- Change in Color. If you notice blood in the stool, or darkened stool this could also be an indication of changes inside the colon. Your physician can help you to determine the cause.