Signs of Colorectal Cancer
It’s National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, which makes it the perfect time to
learn about colorectal cancer and the importance of its screening and prevention.
While some use the terms colorectal cancer and colon cancer interchangeably,
colorectal cancer refers to both colon and rectal cancers. Cancer in the large
intestine is referred to as colon cancer, and cancer within the last five to ten inches
of the colon is known as rectal cancer.
Colon cancer is more common in men, however, both men and women are at risk for
colorectal cancer as they age. Regular screening is key to preventing colon and
rectal cancer in its early stages. Besides scheduling regular colonoscopies with your
physician, be aware of these signs and risks for colorectal cancer in order to seek
● Age and Sex
As previously mentioned, the risk of colon cancer increases for men over the
age of 45. For those with a family history of colon cancer, you may want to
consider screening at 40. Regardless of sex, it is recommended to begin
screening for colorectal cancer at 50. Both stages I and II of colorectal cancer
often have little or no signs of disease, so routine screening is key to
diagnosis and treatment.
● Blood in Stool
While routine colorectal screening is vital regardless of symptoms, seek out
your physician directly if you notice blood in the stool or rectal bleeding. This is one of the most common signs of colorectal cancer.
Be wary of general digestive issues including constipation, diarrhea, and
persistent abdominal pain. Patients may find ongoing issues with gas or
cramps. Should these symptoms last more than a week, it’s time to contact
● Unexplained Weight Loss
If you find yourself losing weight without any recent changes in diet or
exercise, this could be a symptom of colorectal cancer.
● Fatigue or Weakness
While these symptoms can mean many things on their own, they are also
commonly experienced in patients with colorectal cancer.
● A History of IBD
Patients with irritable bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease
are known to have an increased risk of colorectal cancer. If you have a
history of IBD, you may want to consider screening for colorectal cancer
Note that Inflammatory bowel disease is different than IBS, and is not
associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
Preventing Colorectal Cancer
While a lot of risk factors of colorectal cancer are due to age and genetics, there are
ways to lower your risk:
●Eat a balanced diet with enough fiber
● Limit alcohol intake
● Stop smoking
● Daily exercise
Certain medications are also available for high-risk patients. The exact dosage and
type of medication varies from patient to patient and is only recommended in
Colorectal cancer can be deadly, but is very treatable when caught early. Contact
MSA if you wish to schedule a colorectal screening or have any questions on