5 Early Warning Signs of Colorectal Cancer

Learn common symptoms of colorectal cancer.

By Diana Kelly Levey
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How Colon Cancer Can Develop (2:20)

We often hear about breast cancer and lung cancer in the news and discussed in friend circles, but colorectal cancer is the fourth most-commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women – and one people tend to feel less comfortable discussing.

This type of cancer is detected in the colon or rectum, and is one you should know the signs of because it’s the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined. Each year, approximately 145,000 Americans are diagnosed colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer might be tough to notice if you aren’t paying attention, so here are some early signs to be aware of and talk to your doctor about if you are concerned. Take note, the most common symptom is no symptom so make sure you get screened with a colonoscopy if you’re 45 or older – it could save your life.

You’re exhausted.

Sure, there can be one million things causing your exhaustion, but be aware of fatigue or lack of energy that’s unusual for you. If you feel very tired or weak lately and can’t explain why, bring it up with your doctor.

You notice rectal bleeding.

See blood in your stool? You might think it’s a hemorrhoid or tearing, but this could also be a symptom of colorectal cancer. Make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to have it checked out.

You’ve got abdominal pain.

If you often experience cramps, gas, or pain in your abdomen, these could be warning signs of colorectal cancer. You might also find that you feel “full,” or bloated, or have the sensation that your bowel does not empty completely.

You’re losing weight — without trying.

One of the signs of colorectal cancer (and many other kinds of cancer) is unexplained weight loss. If you find that the numbers on the scale are dropping down and you weren’t even trying to lose weight, it could mean something is wrong.

Your stools are different.

Pay attention to any changes in bowel habits, including stools that are shaped differently than usual. Change in stools could be a symptom of colorectal cancer and should be reported to your doctor for proper assessment.

Colorectal cancer is treatable if detected early. So pay attention to any changes in your body and make an appointment with your doctor. If you haven’t done so already, and you’re 45+, make an appointment for your colonoscopy screening.


How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy

Colon Cancer Guidelines You Should Know About

What a Colon Looks Like

Article written by Diana Kelly Levey