Colon cancer is essentially cancer of the large intestines. The colon makes up the majority of this portion of the digestive system. It will usually begin as polyp somewhere in the lining of the colon and slowly grow from there, which is an important fact to note. It is because of this lengthy growth process that colon cancer can be difficult to detect, namely for the sufferer, as people will rarely show any symptoms of the disease until it's in its later stages. However, there are things to observe as warning signs.
Probably one of the most important symptoms in colon cancer--at least in regard to early detection--is rectal bleeding. While this symptom can be attributed to a number of other health-related issues, it's fairly common for a woman with colon cancer, even in its early stages, to experience some rectal bleeding. This would also include blood in her stool, but it can also be bleeding at other times.
Change in Bowel Movements
Another common indication of colon cancer is a change in bowel movement. Much like rectal bleeding, this can be confused with other fairly minor issues. A woman suffering from colon cancer may become constipated or experience episodes of diarrhoea. She may also notice a change in the consistency of her actual bowel movements. However, this particular symptom is different than a bout with diarrhoea. Her stool would appear thinner than normal. Yet, the mere presence of any symptom in relation to your bowel movements shouldn't automatically be cause for alarm. Ultimately, attention should be paid to the length of time this symptom is affecting you. In the case of colon cancer, it would really be more than two weeks in time.
Other Digestive Issues
Besides rectal bleeding or a change in bowel movements, there are a few other digestive related issues that can manifest when one is suffering from colon cancer. Some women will experience bouts of nausea or vomiting. Others have complained of a persistent sensation of needing to "go," for lack of a better term, even after they've just had a bowel movement. Many times, there is this unrelenting bloating and gas, mostly due to a blockage that the tumour is creating in the large intestines. This same blockage may also reveal itself through cramping, which shouldn't be confused with pain. If you've ever experienced bad gas, you've no doubt felt cramping related to digestion. Stomach cramps may also show up during visits to the bathroom.
While this may seem like an obvious symptom of colon cancer--as it is an indicator with almost any form of cancer--weight loss of an unexplained nature is still a sign. This is basically a consequence of the tumour itself. As the cancer grows, it takes more energy to fuel, which means you'll burn more and more calories. This, of course, translates in to weight loss, even when you're still eating the same diet as before.
When a woman is suffering from colon cancer, she will usually experience a certain amount of fatigue. This would be partly associated with the increased amount of calories being burnt because of the tumour. But, it is also linked to bleeding, as one could witness in rectal bleeding or blood in the stool. As the bleeding continues, a woman may become anaemic due to this blood loss. One of the chief symptoms of anaemia is fatigue. She may also begin to appear paler than normal.
As with any form of cancer, early detection is the most effective method of treatment. According to the Mayo Clinic, colon cancer will generally develop in people over the age of 50. Actually, 90 per cent of all cases are seen in this age group and above. That being said, this doesn't mean that colon cancer cannot develop in someone of a younger age. Screening is recommended once you hit a certain age.