You might be surprised to learn that colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the country and the second leading cause of cancer death. Colorectal cancer affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people 50 or older. However, the numbers of those diagnosed with colorectal cancer 50 or under are on the rise. More than 50,000 people die of colorectal cancer each year.
So, what do you need to know about colorectal cancer? Well, colorectal cancer occurs in the colon or rectum. The colon is part of the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus. When discovered early on, colorectal cancer is highly treatable.
So, what are the symptoms of colorectal cancer? Unfortunately, colorectal cancer first develops with few, if any, symptoms. Symptoms do include, however:
Change in bowel habits: including diarrhea, constipation, a change in the consistency of your stool or your stools are narrower than usual.
Abdominal discomfort or pain: cramps, gas, feeling full, bloating, or that your bowel does not empty completely.
Bleeding: finding blood in your stool.
Weakness or fatigue: you may also experience weight loss, nausea, or vomiting.
Screening is the number one way you can reduce your risk of colon cancer. If you are over 50, high risk, or have any of the above symptoms, talk to your doctor about getting checked. You are at risk if you have a family history of colorectal cancer. If you have symptoms but are under 50 and do not have a family history don’t put off speaking to your doctor.