According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. and the third most common type of cancer diagnosed. This type of cancer affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) or rectum, where abnormal growths or tumors may develop.
While this cancer is more common in older adults, it also affects younger people. It may be awkward to talk about this part of your health, but you should discuss any concerns with your doctor.
Here are 5 warning signs of colorectal cancer to look out for:
The most common warning sign is rectal bleeding or blood in stool. People may ignore this sign, especially if bleeding does not happen every day or every week. Some other conditions like hemorrhoids can also cause bleeding. If you notice any blood in your stool or on the toilet paper, you should let your health provider know.
Changes in bowel habits
Bowel movements can vary slightly depending on the food you eat and other daily stressors on your body. However, if you notice any drastic changes that do not go away after a week or two, this could be a sign of something serious. Changes in bowel habits might be continued diarrhea or vomiting, constipation, or smaller stool size.
Constant belly bloat
Bloating is when your belly feels swollen and appears bigger than normal. It can happen when your body produces too much gas or when you eat too much or too quickly. It usually clears itself up in a few hours. However, if you are constantly feeling bloated, it could be a sign that your body is reacting to a growth or irritation in the intestines.
Unexplained weight loss
If you are getting enough to eat but notice that you are losing weight, disease could be changing how your body uses food. Weight loss is often a major warning sign that something could be wrong. Rapid or significant weight loss in a short period of time is a sign that you shouldn’t ignore.
Stomach or abdominal pain
Sharp or dull pains in the stomach or abdomen area could indicate the presence of a tumor (growth) or other blockage. Keep track of where the pain happens and how long it lasts. Stomach pain can be caused by a variety of things, so you shouldn’t worry unless you experience pain along with other symptoms.
Be sure to discuss abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, bloating or change in bowel habits with your health care provider.
The risk of developing colon cancer increases after the age of 50, especially if you have a family history. Doctors recommend regular screenings every 10 years. Be open with your health care provider about any of your health concerns especially if you are suffering from any of these symptoms. Talk to your doctor about the steps you can take to reduce your risk of colon cancer.