Colon and Rectal cancers (colorectal cancer) are preventable cancers. Knowing the signs and symptoms of Colon Cancer or Rectal Cancer and understanding the risk may stop this cancer from happening to you.
Although it can vary, common signs of Colon Cancer may include:
- No signs or symptoms at all
- An ongoing change of bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely)
- Stools that are narrower than usual
- Weight loss for no known reason
- Feeling very tired (weakness and fatigue)
- Blood (either bright red or very dark) in the stool (poop)
- Rectal bleeding
- Frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, or abdominal cramps
In most cases signs of Colon Cancer begin as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time some of these polyps become colon cancers.
Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screening tests to help prevent Colon Cancer by identifying and removing polyps before they become Colon Cancer.
If the cancer spreads, or metastasizes, additional symptoms can present themselves in the newly affected area. Symptoms of metastasis ultimately depend on the location to which the cancer has spread, and the liver is the most common place of metastasis.
In order to diagnose Colon Cancer, physicians will request a complete physical exam as well as personal and family medical histories. Diagnoses are usually made after the physician conducts a colonoscopy or a barium enema x-ray.
It is also highly treatable if found in its early stages. Screening is encouraged at age 50, and before age 50 if there is a strong family history of risk factors.
Surgery, chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy are common treatment options for Colon Cancer. But there are others, these include:
Targeted Drug Therapy
Drugs that target specific defects that allow cancer cells to grow are available to people with advanced Colon Cancer.
Targeted drugs can be given along with chemotherapy or alone. Targeted drugs are typically reserved for people with advanced Colon Cancer.
Supportive (Palliative) Care
Palliative care is specialized medical care that focuses on providing relief from pain and other symptoms of a serious illness. Palliative care specialists work with you, your family and your other doctors to provide an extra layer of support that complements your ongoing care.
When palliative care is used along with all of the other appropriate treatments, people with cancer may feel better and live longer.
Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specially trained professionals. Palliative care teams aim to improve the quality of life for people with cancer and their families. This form of care is offered alongside curative or other treatments you may be receiving.
Alternative treatments may help you cope with a diagnosis of Colon Cancer. Nearly all people with cancer experience some distress. Common signs and symptoms of distress after your diagnosis might include sadness, anger, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping and loss of appetite. Alternative treatments may help redirect your thoughts, at least temporarily, to give you some relief.
Alternative treatments that may help relieve distress include:
- Art therapy
- Dance or movement therapy
- Music therapy
- Relaxation exercises
For more information about Colon Cancer, its symptoms and treatment options, please contact us – we are ready to help.