Colon Cancer - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of colon cancer?

Symptoms of colorectal cancer are numerous and nonspecific. They include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, change in bowel habits, narrow stools, diarrhea or constipation, red or dark blood in stool, weight loss, abdominal pain, cramps, or bloating. Other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (spastic colon), ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, diverticulosis, and peptic ulcer disease can have symptoms that mimic colorectal cancer. For more information on these conditions, please read the following articles: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn's Disease, Diverticulosis, and Peptic Ulcer Disease.

Colorectal cancer can be present for several years before symptoms develop. Symptoms vary according to where in the large intestine the tumor is located. The right colon is spacious, and cancers of the right colon can grow to large sizes before they cause any abdominal symptoms. Typically, right-sided cancers cause iron deficiency anemia due to the slow loss of blood over a long period of time. Iron deficiency anemia causes fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. The left colon is narrower than the right colon. Therefore, cancers of the left colon are more likely to cause partial or complete bowel obstruction. Cancers causing partial bowel obstruction can cause symptoms of constipation, narrowed stool, diarrhea, abdominal pains, cramps, and bloating. Bright red blood in the stool may also indicate a growth near the end of the left colon or rectum.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: sally89, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: November 04

With colon cancer, I was throwing up all the time and it was bloody. I was constantly on the toilet passing nothing but bloody water. I couldn't eat for days at a time and was in severe pain. I was losing the ability to control my bowels. I was so weak it was hard to even get up, and lost a lot of weight very fast. I had headaches and was always having hot and cold flashes. I also had blackouts.

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Comment from: ure53, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: August 18

My mother has recently died of undiagnosed malignant colon cancer. She had no weight loss, dizziness bowel issues or bleeding. She actually went into hospital for recurrent bladder infections. They found after a scan that the cancer was right through her bowels, liver, and kidneys. Her blood tests showed nothing until after the liver biopsy was done and then her counts rose on a daily basis. She died 23 days later. I had a 5 cm sessile tumor removed three years ago, it was not malignant, and a year later had a polyp removed where the tumor was taken from. Two years later I am having to go back for a colonoscopy after an 8 kilo weight loss in three weeks. I am tired and so thirsty all the time but sleep eludes me till early hours. One of my diabetic tablets have been stopped altogether and my insulin reduced by 30 percent. I am not sure what will happen next or what they might find but life is a little freaky at present.

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