Early Symptoms of Colon or Colorectal Cancer

Everyone recognizes breast cancer, kidney cancer and lung cancer as the leading causes of mortality in the Indian subcontinent. Colorectal cancer is a lesser-known disease in India as its prevalence is lower than in western countries, but you would be surprised to know that it is the seventh (7th) leading cause of mortality in India!

As an Oncologist, I consider it my prime duty to keep the public informed so I decided to write about Colorectal cancer to raise awareness as it is crucial to understand its incidence and progressive nature.

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that affects either one or both the parts of the large intestine – colon and rectum. These cancers can also be called colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they start. They account for 10% of global cancer deaths yearly.

Most cancers in the colon or rectum develop from unusual tissue growths that appear like small, flat bumps called polyps. Blood in stool, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea can indicate their presence in the colon or rectum. Looking at the statistics, one comes to know that colorectal cancer is a serious ailment as it is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in males and the second in females, with more than 1.3 million new cancer cases every year. Understanding its early signs and symptoms will help in treating early!

Early Signs and Symptoms

The polyps in the colon and rectum should be treated immediately after diagnosis. If untreated, colorectal polyps can develop into colorectal cancer.

During the early stages of colorectal cancer, the symptoms don’t usually appear but warning signs can appear. These can include:

● Fatigue
● Unusual bleeding from rectum
● Pencil thin stools
● Pain in the abdomen and sides
● Sudden weight loss
● Blood stains in the stools

As an oncologist, I highly advocate tracking bowel movements and undergoing regular colonoscopy if you notice any of these early warnings as it is better to be safe than sorry!

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