What are the colorectal cancer symptoms?

dealing with Colorectal cancer symptoms
(Image: © Louis Reed/Unsplash)

Before dealing with the Colorectal cancer symptoms; let’s talk briefly about the colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is characterized by the appearance of polyps that develop inside the colon or rectum. Polyps are genetic abnormalities resulting from the regeneration of cells in the colonic mucosa. Over the years, these can become cancerous.

1. Warning signs

This cancer usually takes a long time to develop. Often when polyps and tumors appear, they do not cause any symptoms.

In general, if there is any manifestation of symptoms, it means that the disease is already advanced. Therefore, an early diagnosis is essential.

2. Symptomatology

Colorectal cancers often develop in silence without causing any particular symptom. They can remain unnoticed for a long time.

However, certain signs may be indicative of cancer and should lead to consulting your doctor.

The important symptoms are:

2.1. Persistent or sudden disorder of intestinal transit

  • Sudden or worsening constipation,
  • A prolonged diarrhea,
  • An increase in abdominal volume,
  • Stools narrower than usual (they can be longer and thinner, like a pencil),
  • A pressing and continual urge to have a bowel movement (especially in the morning),
  • Tension in the rectum or feeling full,
  • A sense of incomplete evacuation or a false urge to have a bowel movement, even immediately after going to.
  • Efforts to expel painful and ineffective stools.
  • Vomiting.

2.2. Bleeding

The stools are covered or mixed with light or dark red blood (bloody stools or streaked with blood). They can also be black as ink if blood is digested in the colon.

Sometimes the bleeding is invisible to the naked eye. Only tests for blood in the stool can then detect them.

Bleedings are not quickly caused by hemorrhoids. Tests are necessary to determine the real cause.

These pains can be frequent or constant. They are manifested by intestinal cramps, gas, a feeling of bloating in the lower abdomen, discomfort while sitting, or anal pain; a tumor in the rectum can cause pain resembling that of sciatica (it extends into the legs).

2.3. Rarer symptoms

  • Mucus emitted from the anus. The mucus is of whitish color, viscous liquid that looks like sputum.
  • Anemia (low number of red blood cells).
  • All of these symptoms can have other causes than cancer. However, if they remain or occur suddenly, it is essential to quickly consult your doctor, who will perform examinations or refer you to a gastroenterologist if it’s necessary.

2.4 Worsening of symptoms

As the tumor grows, these symptoms can worsen and lead to complications such as bowel obstruction or peritonitis:

  • Intestinal obstruction: the tumor completely blocks the colon, preventing the passage of stools and gases. Those later accumulate in the colon, which increases in volume. Bowel obstruction can manifest as more or less severe abdominal pain, swelling of the belly, vomiting, and lack of stools and gas. It requires urgent medical intervention. Indeed, if the colon continues to distend, it can perforate, which represents a vital risk for the patient.
  • Peritonitis, a serious infection of the membrane that surrounds all the abdominal organs (peritoneum). This infection can occur when the colon has perforated. It requires immediate surgery.

If the illness keeps progressing, it may occur:

Originally published on Live Positively.