Colorectal cancer is a silent killer, often developing without any obvious symptoms. By the time patients experience signs that something might be wrong, the cancer can be in its later stages. Bringing awareness to what can often be subtle cues is critical in catching this disease early when successful treatment is most likely. This post addresses the more nuanced symptoms you should not ignore.
Persistent Changes in Bowel Habits
It's an aspect of your life you rarely discuss, but you should be acutely aware of your bowel habits. Developing a pattern of less frequent or more frequent bowel movements without a clear reason can be an early indicator of colorectal cancer. If your trips to the toilet change drastically over a period of weeks or months, it's essential to consider consulting a healthcare professional.
Blood in the Stool
Though alarming, blood in the stool is a common symptom of colorectal cancer, often accompanied by abdominal discomfort. This blood may appear red but is more commonly a dark, tar-like color, indicating that it comes from higher up in the digestive tract. However, not all cases of bleeding are related to cancer, as hemorrhoids and noncancerous polyps might also be to blame. Be that as it may, always err on the side of caution and have any incidence of rectal bleeding checked.
Persistent Abdominal Discomfort
Discomfort, such as cramps, gas pains, or bloating, may come and go, making it easy to dismiss. However, if it persists and becomes more severe or consistent, it should be investigated. This prolonged discomfort can be a result of a tumor pressing on the walls of the intestine, leading to blockages or the release of excessive mucus.
Unexplained Iron-Deficiency Anemia
Anemia, especially if it's due to an iron deficiency, can be a sign of colorectal cancer. Tumors can bleed, leading to a slow but significant loss of blood that isn't visible in the stool but is noticeable in a blood test. If you find yourself feeling fatigued and weak and you can't explain why, this may be especially worth investigating.
Unexplained Weight Loss
When weight loss occurs unexpectedly, and without a change in diet or exercise, the body could be signaling an alarming issue. Many people with colorectal cancer lose weight without trying. If you're losing lots of weight in a short period of time, you may want to talk to your doctor about colorectal cancer.
Understanding the subtleties of your body's signals is crucial in identifying colorectal cancer in its early stages. While these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have cancer, they should prompt you to seek a professional opinion. Remember, screenings and regular check-ups are your best defense against any potential health threats. Your health is worth the vigilance.
For more information about colorectal cancer, contact a medical professional in your area.