Colon Cancer Symptoms and Stages in Males, Females

Colon Cancer Symptoms and Stages in Males, Females

Sometimes colon cancer symptoms show no warning signs until the cancer is in more advanced stage. Certain basic colon cancer symptoms might include hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, infection, etc., so patients should consult their physician if they experience any of the following symptoms

What Are the Colon Cancer Symptoms?

Abdominal pain

It is normal to experience abdominal pain, cramps and bloating in our lifetime because generally it might not have been caused by any serious illnesses. Nevertheless, if anyone experiences stomach pain which is not so familiar or is unique then they immediately should consult the doctor.

Blood in Stool

Anal bleeding is a serious subject, no matter the cause. Having a doctor take a closer at your symptoms can determine whether the cause is a condition like hemorrhoids or if it is something more serious, like colon cancer, and decide on the right course of treatment. If you notice either bright red or very very dark blood in your stool, along with severe pain, you need to contact your physician as soon as possible. Your doctor will be able to examine you and will most likely suggest a colonoscopy to check for polyps or tumors that may the source of the problem.

Bowel Movement Changes

Everyone experiences bowel changes such as diarrhea or constipation quite often which will most probably relate to eating habits and change in food. If it continues for a longer period of time then there might be some serious condition behind it. So it is required to contact your doctor immediately to rule out any cancer. Also if you notice any change in color in stools then you have to inform the doctor.

Another change in bowel habits that may indicate colon cancer is having narrower than normal stools or other changes in the appearance of your stool. If your stool looks pencil-thin or looks different for more than a few weeks, you need to talk to your doctor.

Unexplained Weight Loss

Generally, if you are on diet to lose weight then it is absolutely a happy moment if you have lost the healthy amount of weight. But if you are not intending to lose weight and still experience weight loss, then there might be something wrong. Unexplained or unintended weight loss is a symptom of many medical conditions and colon cancer is also one of the reason or possibility. If along with weight loss, if you have experienced diarrhea and vomiting then you should definitely contact your doctor.

Unexplained Anemia

Anemia refers to a decrease in red blood cell count. In terms of colon cancer anemia may be caused by a microscopic amount of chronic blood loss in the stool. In such case, the total body stores of iron are depleted as iron is lost with the red blood cells. The production of new red blood cells is reduced and eventually lowers the total red blood cell count causing anemia.

Anemia also causes fatigue because the red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to the body tissues. In women, an iron deficiency is commonly seen during menstruation. However, for men, iron deficiency is uncommon and needs to be further investigated by a physician.

Vomiting

Vomiting can be caused by a number of normal occurrences: motion sickness, a virus or unpleasant sights or smells. Colon cancer could be the cause of nausea and vomiting are accompanied with other symptoms such as constipation or pain. When vomiting is a symptom of colon cancer, it is usually because the tumor is causing a bowel obstruction. Solids, liquids and even gas may be prevented from passing through the colon depending on the severity of the blockage. This may lead to constipation and painful stomach cramps.

 

Colon Cancer Symptoms in Males

  • Bowel changes
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Changes in Urine Routine
  • Blood in urine
  • Persistent backache
  • Unusual coughing
  • Testicular mass lumps
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

 Colon Cancer Symptoms in Females

  • Bloody stools
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Very rarely weight loss

Risk Factors Associated with Colon Cancer

Although many researchers, doctors and scientists are not quite sure about what precisely leads to colon and colorectal cancer, some risk factors have been identified, which includes the following

  1. Age
  2. Cancerous polyps
  3. Family history of colon cancer or polyps
  4. Diabetes
  5. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD)
  6. Smoking
  7. A high-fat diet
  8. Inactive lifestyle
  9. Obesity
  10. Cancer Radiation Therapy
  11. Alcohol

It’s important to note that more than 75% of cases of colon cancer patients don’t exhibit any family history. There are no symptoms in many cases. After age 50, there is an average risk in both men and women and they should get tested. If the individual has two or more risk factors, then he/she may need to get screened earlier or more often.

Different Stages of Colon Cancer

Stage I Colon Cancer

During stage I colon cancers, cancer will be grown into colon wall layers, nonetheless, they have not expanded outside the colon wall as such into nearby lymph nodes.

Stage I comprises cancers which are part of a polyp. If the polyp is detached totally during colonoscopy, by not leaving any cancer cells at the margins or edges of the detached sample then no other treatment is required.

Symptoms Include

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Bloody bowels
  • Feeling gassy
  • Painful cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

The polyp if has a cancer of very much greater grade or if any cancer cells are present at the edges of polyps then surgery might be suggested. The individual is recommended to have more surgery if the polyp is not able to be removed totally or if it had to be removed in many pieces, making it difficult to see if cancer cells were at the margins or the edges. If polyps don’t have cancers then partial colectomy is recommended which a surgery to remove the section of colon that has cancer and lymph node present closely. This is the normal treatment. The patient will characteristically not need any further treatment.

Stage II Colon Cancer

In stage II colon cancer, cancer will be grown over the wall of the colon, and perhaps into closely associated tissue, nevertheless they have not yet spread to the lymph nodes.

Symptoms Include:

  • Change in occurrence of bowel movements
  • Bloody stools
  • Even after emptying bowels, feeling as though it is incomplete
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fatigue

The treatment here is surgery to remove the section of the colon which has cancer besides the lymph nodes associated with it. This is called Partial Colectomy. The physician may also suggest adjuvant chemotherapy after surgery if cancer has a greater risk of recurrence due to definite issues.

Stage III Colon Cancer

In stage III colon cancer, the cancer would have spread to lymph nodes which are close. Here the cancer might not have spread to other parts of the body.

Symptoms Include

  • Diarrhea
  • Stools narrowing
  • Incomplete emptying of stools
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Weight loss

The treatment here is similar to stage II colon cancer that is surgery to remove the section of the colon which has cancer besides the lymph nodes associated with it. The physician may also suggest adjuvant chemotherapy after surgery. If the patient is not healthy or active enough then chemotherapy or radiation therapy is recommended.

Stage IV Colon Cancer

In stage IV colon cancer, cancer will spread to all the distant organs and tissues through the colon. The first place to spread is to the liver and then slowly it can expand to other body parts like lungs, peritoneum, brain and other far lymph nodes.

Here surgery might not be of great help. Only in case if cancer has spread to very few small areas then surgery might aid is living longer by curing cancer completely. If cancer has spread to liver then hepatic artery infusion might be required.

Symptoms Include:

  • Changes in bowel habits, like diarrhea, constipation, or struggle passing stool
  • Bloody stools
  • Abdominal distension
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Radiation therapy is used for advanced cancer to alleviate the symptoms. Overall, it is very important to know about the colon cancer symptoms to rule out any serious conditions.

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sameer Kumar (MBBS, MS, FMAS, DMAS)Obstetrician & Gynecologist