The lower part of the digestive system is known as the large intestine (colon), and colon cancer is the name given to the type of cancer that affects it. Rectal cancer is cancer that affects the last few inches of the colon. Collectively they are known as colorectal cancers. In most of the cases, small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps are formed in the intestine. They are not harmful on their own, but over a period, they enlarge to become colon cancers. Let us have a look at the early symptoms.
Polyps and the symptoms
Polyps are very small and do not display symptoms on their own. Doctors advise regular screening test to find polyps and destroy them before they can aggravate to colon cancer. In most of the cases, the symptoms start to appear only in the advanced levels. These include:
- Changes in the bowel movement: There can be severe diarrhea or constipation. There can also be changes in the consistency of the stool.
- Blood clots in the stool: There can be persistent bleeding when passing out the stools. In some cases, there can be a general discomfort and pain while passing the stool.
- Severe abdominal discomforts: Abdominal cramps and gas can be a regular occurrence. They would not respond to any digestive medications.
- Weakness or fatigue: The body tends to get weak and fatigued easily. Even performing essential activities can be a daunting task.
- Unexplained weight loss: Even after a proper diet, the body tends to lose weight. Weight loss can be categorized as one of the advanced stages of the disease.
The symptoms vary drastically depending on the size of cancer and the location in the large intestine. It is advisable to consult an oncologist if the symptoms mentioned above persist and it is also mandatory to have regularized screening after the age of 50.
There are also certain important factors that have to be looked that may increase the risk of colon cancer. These include:
- Old age: It usually affects people more than the age of 50. Chances of it occurring in young people are very minimal.
- Inflammation of the intestine: Chronic inflammatory diseases of the intestine such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease can increase the risk of colon cancer.
- Genetics: Chances are that the genes could be passed on through the generation and family; thereby enhancing the likelihood of colorectal cancer.
- Diet: Fatty foods and foods that are low in fiber content can be one of the causes of colon cancer. People who are overweight and obese also increase their risk drastically.
- Smoking and alcohol: Smoking and drinking in excess levels increase the chances of getting colon cancer.
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