Like most cancer, colon cancer has no early symptoms. Once symptoms appear, they may include the following:
- A change in bowel habits
- Blood (either bright red or very dark) in the stool
- Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
- Stools that are narrower than usual
- Frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, or cramps
- Weight loss for no apparent reason
- Feeling very tired
Other conditions may cause the same symptoms, so it is important to see your healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms.
(Click Colon Cancer Symptoms for more information.)
To make a diagnosis, your doctor may perform one or more tests to look for the disease. These are the same tests used for colon cancer screening. They can include:
(Click Colon Cancer Diagnosis to learn more about how the disease is diagnosed.)
Staging Colon CancerIf a biopsy shows that cancer is present, the doctor needs to know the stage of the colon cancer (how far it has progressed) to plan the best treatment. Colon cancer stages are based on whether the tumor has invaded nearby tissues, whether the cancer has spread, and, if so, to what parts of the body.
The different colon cancer stages include:
- Stage 0
- Stage I
- Stage II
- Stage III
- Stage IV
- Recurrent colon cancer.
(Click Colon Cancer Stages for more detailed information on this topic.)