How can a person get to know that he/she is suffering from colon cancer? What are the symptoms, and how long does it take for them to appear?
Some of symptoms of colorectal cancer can include:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
- Rectal bleeding
- Blood in the stool, which may cause the stool to look dark
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
But most importantly, in the absence of symptoms, people over age 50 should be screened regularly (every 1 to 2 years) for bowel cancer, or precancerous polyps, with a simple faecal occult blood test (FOBT) followed by colonoscopy if the result is positive.
Screening can detect precancerous polyps early, which can then be removed before bowel cancer even begins to develop, and thus many countries now have a screening program for their citizens.
Screening and Surveillance for the Early Detection of Colorectal Cancer and Adenomatous Polyps, 2008: A Joint Guideline from the American Cancer Society, the US Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer, and the American College of Radiology