Colon cancer may begin as polyps in the digestive tract, which often start as non-cancerous groups of cells. Over time, they become cancerous and can be deadly. Medical News Today reports that colon cancer "is the third most common type of cancer in the United States."
But it doesn't have to be. Regular screening for colon cancer should begin at 50 years old and be done yearly. Being informed is your best defense. Here are nine warning signs that may indicate you have colon cancer.
1. Constipation or diarrhea. A change in your typical stool habits or the consistency of your stool is something to keep an eye out for, says the Mayo Clinic. Constipation or diarrhea may be the first sign.
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2. Bloody stool. As the polyps tear, blood gets deposited in the stool. The American Cancer Society warns that if you see bloody stool, contact your doctor. The stool might appear dark from old blood as well.
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3. Pencil stool. WebMD says that very thin, or "pencil stool," is another warning sign for colon cancer.
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4. Cramps. If you suffer from cramps, gas, or bloating that just won't go away, see a doctor. The Mayo Clinic notes that these could be signs of colon cancer.
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5. Fatigue. The American Cancer Society reminds people that, as is true with most forms of cancer, inexpiable fatigue might be a warning sign.
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6. Weight loss. If you have a sudden weight loss that isn't from dieting and exercise, the Mayo Clinic recommends getting checked out.
7. Full bowel. The American Cancer Society states that many people suffering from colon cancer complain of feeling like they need to have a bowel movement, but can't. Some may have a movement, but even after that, they still feel like they need to do more.
8. Anemia. According to WebMD, blood is diverted to building cancerous cells, so those with colon cancer may have symptoms of anemia without any explanation.
9. Pelvic pain. WebMD states that when people reach more advanced stages of colon cancer, they often complain of pelvic pain.
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If you notice any of these symptoms, don't hesitate to contact your doctor. Early detection and treatment could save your life.