Colorectal Cancer Symptoms
In the early stages of colorectal cancer, symptoms rarely develop. As the cancer grows, signs and symptoms are more likely to appear. Common colorectal cancer symptoms include a change in frequency of bowel movements, blood in the stool, and diarrhea or constipation. Pain is not normally a symptom of colorectal cancer. In addition, other medical conditions can share these same symptoms.
Colorectal cancer usually begins within the lining of the colon or rectum. When cancer cells begin to grow, they tend to spread (metastasize) more deeply into the colon and rectum and other surrounding areas, such as the lymph nodes.
During this time, it is common for people not to experience any colorectal cancer symptoms. This is one reason why colorectal cancer is sometimes referred to as a "silent disease." This is also why colorectal cancer screening is so important -- it helps healthcare providers detect the disease before symptoms occur.
Common Symptoms of Colorectal CancerColorectal cancer symptoms may develop as the cancer grows and metastasizes. Common symptoms can include:
- A change in the frequency of bowel movements
- Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
- Either bright red or very dark blood in the stool
- Stools that are narrower than usual
- General abdominal (stomach) discomfort, such as frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, and/or cramps
- Weight loss with no known reason
- Constantly feeling tired
It is important to note that pain is not an early symptom of colorectal cancer; people should not to wait to feel pain to see their healthcare provider.