Signs of Colon Cancer
In most cases, there are no signs of colon cancer when the disease is in its earliest (and most treatable) stages. As the disease progresses, signs and symptoms of the disease may include unexplained weight loss, blood in the stool, frequent gas pains, and a change in bowel habits. Since early signs generally do not include pain, it is important not to wait to feel pain before seeking medical attention.
As with many cancers, there are usually no signs or symptoms of colon cancer in the early stages of the disease.
Once signs of colon cancer do develop, 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
- Unexplained weight loss
Keep in mind that other health problems can cause these possible colon cancer signs. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are experiencing one or more of these possible signs.
Early signs of colon cancer generally do not include pain. It is important not to wait to feel pain before seeing a doctor.
Because there are usually no early colon cancer signs, screening for the disease is important. People 50 years of age and older should be screened for colon cancer; people at higher-than-average risk for the disease may need to be screened earlier in life. If colon cancer is caught early, it is easier to treat.
(Click Colon Cancer Screening for more information about detecting the disease before signs appear.)