Colon cancer is a very serious and life threatening condition, which affects the lower part of the digestive system; the large intestines, more precisely. When the cancer affects the last several inches of the colon, it is called rectal cancer. When both cancers are present in the body, it is referred as colorectal cancer.
Causes of colon cancer
Even though the main cause is unknown in the majority of cases, just like any other type of cancer, the colon cancer also forms when the cells start to grow abnormally and become cancerous over time. Generally, colon cancer begins as small benign clumps of cells on the inside lining of the colon. These clumps of precancerous cells are called polyps and they have the shape of mushrooms. Precancerous growths may also be recessed in the walls of the colon and then they are called non-polypoid lesions, but it is very difficult to detect them.
Colon cancer may be even inheritable due to inherited gene mutations. Therefore, the risk of the development of colon cancer is increased in the families with history of this disease.
Early symptoms of colon cancer
- When one suffers from colon cancer, the first sign of it is rectal bleeding or bloody stool. When one notices bloody stool, he/she should not immediately assume that he/she has colon cancer since rectal bleeding may occur due to several other reasons, such as hemorrhoids, tear in the rectum and bowel movement problems. On the other side, when one notices dried blood in the stool, it is usually a sign of the colorectal cancer. Therefore, it is very important to visit a doctor if blood in the stool becomes a persistent condition.
- Another early symptom of colorectal cancer is the occurrence of narrow stools since the cancerous growths in the rectum or colon tend to narrow these parts of the digestive tract.
- Unexplained weight loss despite the normal diet, accompanied by fatigue and extreme tiredness, are also early warning signs of this digestive system disease. As we know, when the digestive food passes through the intestine, the walls of the intestine absorb moisture from it and keep it in the body, but in case of colon cancer, the affected colon walls cannot perform this function.
- Colorectal cancer may also cause certain irregularities in bowel movements, such as constipation and diarrhea, accompanied by severe cramping and bloating.
Nausea, vomiting, gas and anemia are also considered to be the early symptoms of colon cancer.