Colorectal Cancer Chapter 7
Signs & Symptoms
Unfortunately, colorectal cancer is often asymptomatic (without symptoms) in its early stages Symptoms may appear only when the cancer has reached an advanced stage and the cancer is more difficult to treat. When symptoms do appear, they vary according to the size of the cancer and its location in the colon or rectum.
- Change in bowel habits that lasts for more than a few days, such as diarrhea or constipation
- Feeling of needing to have a bowel movement that is not relieved when a bowel movement has taken place
- Stools that are narrower than usual
- Bleeding in the rectum, dark or bloody stools
- Cramping or abdominal pain
- Frequent gas or indigestion
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
Many of these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than colorectal cancer, such as hemorrhoids, infection, or inflammatory bowel disease. Bleeding from the rectum, for instance, is most often caused by hemorrhoids and anal fissures. However, if you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, it's important to see a doctor promptly. Problems other than cancer may also prove dangerous and should be diagnosed so they can be properly treated.
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