Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer or large bowel cancer, develops from adenomatous colon polyps. These polyps are growths that form in the colon, rectum, appendix and anus and usually begin as benign tumors. However, if polyps are left untreated they become malignant.
In the first two stages, colon cancer can be surgically treated as it is still confined within the colon walls. In the third stage, the cancer spreads to the nearby lymph nodes and only 73% of cancer can be successfully treated with surgery and chemotherapy. Colon cancer in the fourth stage cannot be cured but chemotherapy can prolong life expectancy.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer in Women
Colon cancer symptoms in women are somewhat harder to identify as they are often mistaken for gynecological problems. Because of that, colon cancer in women is often diagnosed in advanced stages when it becomes life-threatening. Therefore women should learn to recognize colon cancer symptoms so that cancer can be detected as early as possible when it can be cured. Given below are common symptoms of colon cancer in women.
Unexplained Weight Loss
Presence of a tumor in the colon interferes with normal digestive processes. This may cause unexpected weight loss despite eating as usual. Also, a tumor releases certain chemicals that increase patient’s metabolism which leads to unintentional weight loss.
Rectal bleeding is often ignored by women since this symptom is usually misinterpreted as vaginal bleeding. Blood in stool is not always visible by the naked eye and can be detected only by fecal occult blood test. Blood in stool usually indicates that cancer has advanced.
Changes in Bowel Habits
Colon cancer is always accompanied by changes in bowel habits. Bowel movement may become more or less frequent that normal. Diarrhea and constipation may alternate and the patient may have feeling that the bowel is full even when it is not.
Fatigue associated with colon cancer occurs due to anemia caused by blood loss in the stool. Also, loss of nutrients and impaired digestive functions result in lethargy and low energy levels. However, women often neglect this symptom and they take it for a side effect of hormonal changes.
Colon cancer also causes many digestive problems. Nausea and vomiting are common symptom of colon cancer. Abdominal pain and cramping occur when the tumor blocks the colon and creates pressure on the intestines. Bloating and gas pains are common too as the tumor prevents gas from traveling properly down the colon.