Colon cancer begins in the large intestine (colon). In some cases, colon cancer is also called colorectal cancer, which is a combination of colon cancer and rectal cancer. Depending on where it starts, it is termed colon cancer or rectal cancer.
The digestive tract ends with the colon. This cancer can occur at any age, but it is more often diagnosed in older adults. Small, benign (noncancerous) cell clusters called polyps commonly develop on the inside of the colon as the first signs of the condition. Some of these polyps may eventually develop into colon cancer.
Small polyps can produce few to no symptoms. Because of this, medical professionals advise routine screening exams to help prevent colon cancer by locating and eliminating polyps before they develop into cancer.
Early signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:
Changes in bowel habits, such as persistent diarrhea or constipation
Feeling as though you can't empty your bowels (tenesmus) or that you need to go immediately from time to time
Cramping sensation in your rectum
Bleeding from the rectum
Dark colored blood in the stool
Passing "pencil stools," long, thin, and stringy
Uncomfortable or bloated feeling in the stomach
Loss of appetite and weight without any reason
Anemia due to intestinal bleeding
Read More: 5 Early Signs That Shout Colon Cancer
Colon cancer can be found with screening tests even before symptoms appear. The disease is most treatable at this stage
Your doctor will examine the area around your belly. The physical exam rarely reveals any issues. The doctor may or may not detect an abdominal tumor with a physical examination. A mass may be discovered during a rectal exam in a patient with rectal cancer but not in one with colon cancer.
The entire colon can only be seen during a thorough colonoscopy. This test is the most efficient for detecting colon cancer.
Those who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer may have to undergo further blood testing, such as:
Complete blood count (CBC) to check for anemia
Liver function tests
If you are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, more tests will be performed to determine its spread and stage. A CT or MRI scan of the abdomen, pelvis, or chest may be used to stage cancer. A PET scan may also be used in some cases.
Here are a few simple tips you can follow to keep your bowel health in check.
Staying away from eating junk
Never skip your meals
Eat a diet high in fiber
Have more greens and fruits in your diet
Achieve and stay at a healthy weight
Reduce your consumption of processed and red meat
Avoid drinking and smoking
Often symptoms don't show up until cancer has advanced. The American College of Physicians advises screening for persons 50 to 75 years old which includes colonoscopy every ten years, or a sigmoidoscopy every ten years. The frequency of screening is based on the level of risk for everyone. To get advice specific to them, patients must speak with their physicians.
ACTC is one of the leading cancer centers in Florida. We provide comprehensive cancer care utilizing the most modern scientific and technological developments in medicine. Our patients receive personalized care from a team of medical professionals that work together to provide the best services. Schedule an appointment with our expert team by calling 352-345-4565.