A type of cancer which originates in the colon or large intestine is generally referred to as bowel cancer. Bowel cancer can also include the rectum as well. Bowel cancer can affect a great many people and if left undetected can be very serious and life threatening. So it is very important to understand and be aware of the important bowel cancer symptoms and signs.
Bowel cancer is a progressive disease which can affect both men and women. It tends to be more common in people who are over 50. In addition those who eat a low fiber diet, have chronic illnesses of the colon, and an inactive lifestyle tends to be at greater risk for developing this type of cancer.
So here are some important bowel cancer symptoms and signs which people should be aware of and alerted to:
- If cancer develops in the bowel and grows to a larger tumor, it can interfere with the normal bowel movement. If you experience difficulty is making regular bowel movements, this may be a sign of bowel cancer. And it may also be caused by simple constipation. But it is better to be alerted to it rather than ignore persistent symptoms.
- An incomplete bowel movement may also be of concern. In this case the person feels like they have not been able to evacuate their bowels completely. This may also be due to the growth of a tumor in the bowels which restrict the movement of waste material out of the body.
- Diarrhea is another symptom and warning sign of bowel cancer. Difficulties in having regular bowel movements may contribute to the incidence of diarrhea. This problem is not as common as constipation but it should nevertheless be noted.
- Blood in the stool is of concern. If a tumor grows in the bowel, it can eventually rupture and bleed. So be aware of the presence of dark red or bright red stools. This should definitely be checked out further.
- The shape of the stool can also change with the onset of bowel cancer. It can become very thin and pencil like.
- Be alert to changes which can cause indigestion, bloating or stomach cramps.
- Jaundice or yellowed skin can be a typical symptom of bowel cancer. This tends to occur if the cancer has spread to other organs such as the liver. This is a very serious situation so get it checked out immediately.
- Anemia is another problem. If the tumor bleeds excessively, the loss of blood can create anemia. So the person may tire easily and feel very sluggish.
- Unexplained weight loss. If a person is eating regularly but losing weight for no good reason, this is indicative of a bigger problem. It may not be directly related to bowel cancer but possibly another form of cancer. Either way it may be serious and should be further investigated.
- A persistent fever which does not abate may indicate the presence of some type of cancer.
If any of these symptoms cause concern, they should be checked out further. Doctors can perform several tests to diagnose and confirm the presence of this type of cancer. If it has developed and remained localized, very effective and noninvasive surgical treatments can be used to remove the tumor and eliminate the cancerous cells and tissues.
If the cancer has become more widespread than more invasive surgical techniques may be necessary combined with other treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This can help to eliminate as much of the cancerous cells and tissues as possible. If the cancer has spread to other organs, effective treatment is much more difficult. The emphasis will be on controlling the spread of cancer and provide the patient with the best quality of life for the longest period possible.