Unfortunately, like many cancers, the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer can often be confused for those of other conditions. This is why it’s important that people the age of 50 and older get tested for colorectal cancer even if they don’t experience any of the common symptoms. Generally, people will often experience these symptoms after the cancer has progressed to a stage that is more difficult to treat than asymptomatic cancer that is found through early detection.
Nevertheless, it’s still important to recognize the signs of colorectal cancer to best determine whether or not you should seek medical attention.
Colorectal Cancer Symptoms
A few of the common symptoms for colorectal cancer include:
- Rectal bleeding
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Dark stools, suggesting blood in the stool
- Feeling you need a bowel movement even after doing so
- Changes in bowel habits that don’t return to normal in a few days (i.e. constipation, diarrhea)
Again, these symptoms will often only appear for cancer after the cancer has progressed and often aren’t a sign of cancer. These symptoms must be coupled with screening to confirm whether or not cancer is present.
Screening before these symptoms appear has many benefits, one of which is the potential discovery of polyps - or precancerous growths - that could eventually materialize into cancer. These can be addressed after screening and are far easier to treat than advanced-stage colorectal cancer.
Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors
There isn’t an absolute known cause for why colorectal cancer develops, which occurs as a result of the mutations of DNA. However, there are some risk factors to keep in mind that might increase your chances of developing colorectal cancer:
- Intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Hereditary risk (it’s rare that colon cancer is passed through the genes, however)
- Older age (it’s recommended that people age 50 and older receive a colon scan)
- Low-fiber diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Heavy alcohol consumption
While it’s difficult to predict, even with the presence of risk factors, whether or not colon cancer will develop, making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthier diet (high in fruits and vegetables), quitting smoking, and regular exercise can help lower your overall cancer risk.
Schedule a Colon Scan
Advanced Body Scan of Tulsa offers a variety of scans for the heart, lungs, and colon, among others. All scans are minimally invasive and take only a few minutes to complete, but can be crucial to detecting early signs of disease and working towards healthy outcomes. To schedule or ask about a scan, visit our website or call us at 918.879.6161.