The colon is the first 6 feet of the large intestine, a part of the digestive tract which processes the nutrients in food, for distribution in and out of the body. Colon cancer may start as a small polyp, or growth of tissue, in the colon. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the U.S., when men and women are combined. Most of the following warning signs usually do not occur until the late stages of the cancer so you should have your doctor do a colorectal screening regularly after the age of 50.
Rectal bleeding while having a bowel movement is a top warning sign of colon cancer. The blood in the stool will either be bright red or dark red. The blood can be mixed in the stool or sometimes will come out in liquid form with the bowel movement. See a doctor immediately if there is blood in your stool.
Another warning sign is that stools are narrower and smaller than they used to be, as if the intestine pass through has narrowed.
No Bowel Movement
If you have not been able to have a bowel movement for days, as though there is an obstruction or blockage in the intestines or bowels, this may be an indicator of colon cancer.
Frequent Bowel Movements
Constantly having the urge to empty the bowels, but very little comes out, may be another sign. Trips to the restroom are more frequent than they used to be.
If a doctor does a digital rectal exam and feels abnormal lumps in the colon, these could be polyps. The doctor will order further tests to find out more.
Change in Bowel Movements
Change in bowel movements to either diarrhea or constipation is another warning sign. This change or difference of consistency of stools will last more than a couple of weeks.
Cramps or Abdominal Bloating
Constant pain in the stomach or bowel area should be reported to a doctor. The abdominal area may feel hard or bloated. Cramps and excessive gas pain that lasts more than a few days is also a warning sign.
Anemia or low blood iron can be a warning sign because the anemia is probably caused by loss of blood in the stool.
Feeling unusually tired and fatigued can be a warning sign of colon cancer.
Unexplained Weight Loss
Unexplained weight loss, possibly due to anemia or loss of blood in the stool, can be another warning sign.