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Warning Signs You Have Colon Cancer Now

Signs of colon cancer you should never ignore.

Colon and rectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S., and the third leading cause of death, according to the CDC. "It is a disease in which cells in the colon or rectum grow out of control. Sometimes it is called colon cancer, for short. The colon is the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus. Sometimes abnormal growths, called polyps, form in the colon or rectum. Over time, some polyps may turn into cancer. Screening tests can find polyps so they can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment works best." "These cancers are serious but are also highly preventable," says colorectal surgeon Jeremy Lipman, MD. Here are five warning signs of colon cancer. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Persistent Nausea and Vomiting

Tired African-American man having headache after hard day, feeling exhausted

Nausea and vomiting can be a sign of colon cancer, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Nausea and vomiting can occur if a colon or rectal tumor is obstructing the bowel and inhibiting the passage of liquid or solid waste or gas. Bowel blockage can also be accompanied by painful abdominal cramps, bloating and constipation… If you experience persistent nausea, signs of dehydration or vomiting that lasts for more than 24 hours, seek immediate medical treatment."

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Abdominal Pain

Senior man with stomach pain

"Abdominal pain is not a very common symptom related to colorectal cancer, but it can be," says colorectal surgeon David Liska, MD. "So if you have abdominal pain, that's again, consistent over a period of time, that's something to bring up with your physician as well."

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Rectal Bleeding

Probe colonoscope. Doctor gastroenterologist with probe to perform gastroscopy and colonoscopy

Rectal bleeding can happen for reasons other than colon cancer, but should still be checked by a doctor to rule out anything dangerous. "If anyone has any change in their bowel habits, if they have any bleeding—even if they think it's a hemorrhoid, and it doesn't go away—just get a colonoscopy," says Vikram Reddy, MD, PHD, colorectal surgeon.

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Changes In Bowel Habits

Woman holding stomach cramps digestive problems

Changes in bowel habits—for example, unusual stools—should be taken seriously. "Even if you're in your 20s or 30s you should get checked out if you have rectal bleeding, if you have any change in your bowel habits, any change in appetite (like feeling "full" early), weight loss, or abdominal pain that is not explained," says Haddon Pantel, MD, Yale Medicine colorectal surgeon.

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Fatigue and Unexplained Weight Loss

woman rubs her head, tired, sitting on bed

Unexplained weight loss and fatigue should not be ignored, as they are both possible symptoms of colon cancer. "Sudden and unexplained weight loss, rectal bleeding or blood in the stool are all cause for concern," says David Richards, MD. "I would be especially concerned if these symptoms came on suddenly." According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, "Persistent diarrhea can cause weight loss. Stomach pain and nausea can reduce your appetite so that you don't consume enough food to maintain your weight. All these issues, as well as anemia, can lead to weakness."

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When Should I See a Doctor?

Doctor showing test results to a patient, portrait.

If you have any concerns about colon cancer, seek the advice of a medical professional as soon as possible. The Cleveland Clinic recommends regular screenings over the age of 45, as up to 85% of colorectal cancers could be prevented or successfully treated if caught in time via regular colonoscopies. "Overall, colorectal cancer is highly preventable, and if detected early, it's also one of the most curable types of cancer," says Dr. Lipman. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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