Colon cancer often causes no symptoms

Colorectal cancer begins in your colon or rectum, which are at the end of your large intestine. It is the third most common cancer in the United States but is becoming one of the easiest cancers to treat and prevent, thanks to better screening and treatments.

Colon cancer often starts as polyps. Polyps are growths in the lining of your colon or rectum. You are more likely to have polyps as you age, but they don’t always mean you will have colon cancer. Most polyps are not cancerous at first but can become cancerous later.

When these polyps mutate and grow out of control, they become colon cancer.

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Typically, colon cancer doesn’t cause any symptoms in a polyp. But as it grows and spreads, colon cancer can cause symptoms like:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Blood in your stools
  • Constipation
  • Dark or black stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling like you need to have a bowel movement, even after you have one
  • Thin stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness, tiredness or fatigue

If you have any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor. They can perform tests to help you find out the cause of your symptoms.

Colon Cancer Risk Factors

Your genetics, environment and lifestyle can influence your risk for colon cancer. You might be at a higher risk for colon cancer if you have one of these risk factors:

  • African American or Native American ethnicity
  • Drinking more than two drinks per day as a man or one drink per day as a woman
  • Eating a large amount of animal fat, such as red meat
  • Eating too little calcium or fiber
  • Family history of colon cancer, especially if your parent, sibling or child has colon cancer
  • Frequent exposure to chlorine or asbestos
  • A gastrointestinal condition such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Obesity
  • Personal history of colon polyps or colon cancer, uterus cancer or breast cancer
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco

At Ellis Medicine, we highly recommend all adults undergo their recommended colon cancer screenings according to their personal level of risk. These screenings can catch cancer before you show any symptoms, while it is still easy to remove and treat. A screening could save your life.

Live-Saving Cancer Care, nearby in your community.

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