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Key symptoms of colon cancer you shouldn’t ignore

Key symptoms of colon cancer you shouldn’t ignore

Let colon cancer go unchecked, and you could be in trouble. In addition to starting regular screening at age 45, be alert to key symptoms of colon cancer. Sometimes, signs of colon cancer are easy to spot, but you have to know what you’re looking for.

If you notice any of these symptoms of colon cancer, talk with your provider. It may be nothing to worry about. But a prompt diagnosis gives you more treatment options if you have cancer. And more cancer treatment options mean a better chance at a full recovery.

Bathroom habits change for the worse

The digestive system helps your body use vitamins and minerals. It also pushes waste out of your body. Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, affects your digestive system. So, it makes sense that colon cancer symptoms appear in the bathroom and affect your bowel habits.

It may be colon cancer if you experience:

  • Blood in your stool that is bright or dark red
  • Bowel movements that produce thin or small stools
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Feeling like you never quite empty your bowel out completely
  • Need to have bowel movements more or less often than usual

General “don’t feel well” symptoms

Colon cancer symptoms can also cause nonspecific feelings of sickness. Nausea is common, as is vomiting and feeling fatigued all the time. Additionally, you may feel bloated. Gas pains, lower back pain or cramps may dampen your day. You may get blood work done and find out you have anemia.

These symptoms are easy to dismiss. After all, a stomach bug or poor diet can cause them all. However, you better pay attention to these symptoms. Because every one of them is telling you something. They may tell you not to eat spicy food or more iron-rich foods. However, they may be saying that something more serious is going on, and it may be colon cancer.

If you experience any of these symptoms regularly, talk with your provider. You may benefit from lifestyle changes. Or if you’re at higher risk, it may be time to screen for colorectal cancer. Depending on your situation, your provider may recommend a colonoscopy or other screening tests that check for colon or rectal cancer.

Accidental weight loss

For most people, losing weight is never easy. It’s especially difficult when you’re passionate about gumbo, beignets and po-boys. So, if you start losing weight without trying, something’s probably wrong. This is another symptom of colon cancer.

One study found that accidental weight loss is very common with colon cancer. For those diagnosed early on, 38.1% lost weight without trying. Patients whose cancer spread beyond the colon had a 50/50 chance of unexpected weight loss. Of course, losing a pound here or there isn’t a problem. But if you accidentally drop 10 or more pounds in a short amount of time, take action. Bring this up to your provider to make sure it’s nothing serious.

Colon cancer symptoms in young adults

The older you get, the more likely you’ll get colon cancer. But the risk of developing colon cancer doesn’t only affect older adults. In fact, the National Cancer Institute says colon cancer is becoming much more common in young adults.

Can you have colon cancer at age 25? Possibly. While not common in the 20s, young people can experience colon cancer symptoms.

The following risk factors may increase your likelihood of colon cancer before you hit 50:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Eating lots of processed meats and fats and skipping fruits and vegetables
  • Frequent exposure to water or air pollution
  • Having a family member who had colorectal cancer
  • Living with irritable bowel syndrome and other conditions that inflame the gut
  • Spending a lot of time watching television
Protecting your colon takes a team. When you’re ready for colorectal care with a NOLA flare, find a provider at West Jefferson Medical Center to help keep an eye on your colon health.