Colorectal cancer also known as colon cancer occurs in the colon or rectum. There can be abnormal growths called polyps that can form in the colon or rectum. These polyps may turn into cancer over time. Therefore, it is important to get screened for colon cancer. Screening tests can detect precancerous polyps so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends regular colorectal cancer screening for people at average risk starting at age 45. Precancerous polyps and early-stage colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. But if there are symptoms, here is a list of what to look for.
What are the signs?
- A change in bowel habits — diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
- Rectal bleeding
- Dark stools, or blood in the stool
- Cramping or abdominal pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
Other issues such as infection, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease can also cause these symptoms.
At the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center, physicians can target a tumor in the colon precisely while sparing healthy tissues and critical areas of the body such as the bladder, and small and large intestine.
If you have symptoms that worry you, schedule an appointment with your doctor to get screened. Remember, the earlier colon cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat.