Colon cancer is a serious medical condition that affects approximately 112,000 new patients a year. This particular cancer targets the large intestine, and most cases begin as small noncancerous growths called polyps. Thus, doctors often surgically remove colon polyps, which can decrease your chances of developing colon cancer. Because the early symptoms of colon cancer can mimic other gastrointestinal conditions, some cases remain undiagnosed until the illness progresses. However, the key to surviving colon cancer is recognising the early signs and seeking medical treatment.
Change in Bowel Habits
One of the first signs of colon cancer is a change in bowel habits. You may develop persistent diarrhoea or constipation that doesn't respond to home treatment. Of course, these symptoms can indicate a less serious illnesses such as Crohn's disease or irritable bowel syndrome. If changes in bowel habit last for more than two weeks, visit a doctor.
Blood in the Stool
Bloody stools can signify haemorrhoids, a common non-life threatening condition. Or it can be an early sign of colon cancer. Rectal bleeding can appear as bright red streaks on the toilet paper, or stools can appear dark and tarry. Report any rectal bleeding to a doctor immediately.
Oftentimes, the only symptoms of early colon cancer is abdominal discomfort. Sufferers may deal with persistent bloating that doesn't improve with medications or after emptying the bowel. Furthermore, intense abdominal cramping, lower pelvic pressure and nausea can occur during the early stages of colon cancer.
In some instances, colon cancer sufferers don't detect physical changes with their body. However, a routine blood test can show a low blood count, which signifies internal bleeding. This is an early sign of colon cancer. After a thorough examination and a series of tests to rule out various medical conditions, doctors may diagnose the patient with colon cancer.
Because the first signs of colon cancer can mimic other illnesses, doctors have to conduct a series of diagnostic tests to make an accurate diagnoses. After evaluating a patient's symptoms, doctors generally request a blood test, stool sample and colonoscopy. Based on the results, doctors can determine whether a patient has colon cancer or another gastrointestinal condition.