Every year, 140.000 patients are diagnosed and 50.000 die of Bowel Cancer in the US. Although the death rate from bowel cancer is continuously decreasing for the past three decades because of early detection (screening programs) and the treatment improvements, it remains to be one of the three leading causes of cancer death. Just like in case of any other cancer, the sooner the diagnosis is established, the greater chances of full recovery.
Cancer patients in some cases experience unintended weight loss (particularly bowel cancer patients). If you can’t explain it by a diet or a workout and if it’s higher than 10 pounds within the last 2 months, ask your doctor for advice. Thyroid gland hyperfunction and some other common and benign medical conditions may cause weight loss, so don’t panic, just ask your doctor for advice.
Because of maldigestion, the nutrients are not absorbed like they should which results in fatigue. It is a unspecific sign, and if you feel fatigued for a long period of time, the cause may be stress or a hormonal imbalance also (easily treated conditions). Do not ignore fatigue! Before calling it a “safe fatigue” visit your doctor.
A lot of things that happen in cancer patient’s body is caused by inflammation. If you are febrile for weeks, you should definitely schedule a medical checkup. Just like weight loss and fatigue, it is a unspecific sign and having it does not mean that you have cancer, but a medical examination is necessary.
Bowel movement changes
We are not talking about changes that last for a few days, we are talking about worsening changes that last for weeks or a few months. Constipation followed by extensive diarrhea is a particularly significant sign and you should not, by any means, ignore it!
Bowel movement false alarm and/or a feeling of incomplete defecation
If you feel like you need to poop, and nothing happens in the toilet or after defecation, you feel like it wasn’t complete, ask a medical professional for advice. Having such symptoms for a long period of time (weeks or months) is definitely a reason for a doctor visit. This is one of the most frequent symptoms bowel cancer patients complain about!
Bleeding from the rectum
Noticed fresh blood on a toilet paper? Don’t panic! The chances are your hemorrhoids are bleeding. Although this condition needs a medical examination, it is benign and relatively easy to treat. If you experienced this sign more than once in the last 2-3 months, you should visit your doctor.
Blood clots in the stool
Unlike fresh blood, blood clots should ring your bell! Dark red or black blood in the stool is usually a sign of intestinal bleeding. Although it may be caused not only by cancer but with other benign conditions as well, a medical examination is necessary, no matter what’s the cause!
A number of conditions can cause abdominal pain and/or cramps. When should you be worried? If the pain and/or cramps are a regular and last for weeks or even months! If you feel these and as the time goes by your condition is worsening, visit your doctor within a week.
You just learned what symptoms may point to Bowel Cancer and what to do if you recognize some of them. Have in mind that a number of conditions may cause those, not only bowel cancer. Symptoms that last for long periods of time and have a tendency to worsen, definitely need medical attention.
In case you are having more than one of symptoms listed above, contact your doctor and schedule an appointment without delay!