Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, often begins with subtle symptoms that may go unnoticed. However, as the disease progresses, the symptoms can become more apparent. It’s important to be aware of these potential signs and seek medical attention if you experience them, especially if you have risk factors for colon cancer such as a family history of the disease.
In this article, we will explore the factors contributing to the diverse presentation of colorectal cancer symptoms among individuals. We aim to shed light on why not everyone experiences the same manifestations. Additionally, we will offer a comprehensive list of potential signs and symptoms associated with colon cancer.
This information can be particularly valuable for individuals with a family history of this challenging disease, enabling them to remain vigilant about their health.
Polyps & Colon Cancer
Polyps are a good way to start talking about colon cancer because it is often the earliest stage of cancer. However, that does not mean that all polyps become cancer, and there’s actually a low chance they do. Polyps are small benign tumors in the internal lining of the colon or rectum. They are quite common in people over 50 years old, and that doesn’t mean they would eventually get colon cancer. So, if you’ve been diagnosed with polyps and read they can become cancer, you should know that is true, but it is not what usually happens.
Polyps and colon cancer appear in any part of your colon, and even in your rectum, which is why doctors usually call it colorectal cancer. Depending on where it is located, you will experience different signs and symptoms, and you could even have many years before noticing. In those years, the genetic alterations in the tumor cells overlap one another and that’s how symptoms become progressive after a long time.
There are three types of polyps. The most common type is called hyperplasic polyps, which means they are an overgrowth of tissue and nothing more, and they won’t become cancer in any stage. The second type is called inflammatory polyps, and they will not become cancer either. However, the third type is called adenomatous polyps, and sometimes they become cancer, in 10% of cases to be precise. So, as you can see, you don’t have a death sentence if you have been diagnosed with polyps. However, you must pay close attention to your symptoms because there’s a chance, no matter how small it might be.
Signs and symptoms of colon cancer
Red blood in your stools
One of the most disconcerting symptoms people report is red blood in their stools, and that’s probably a common cause of alarm for most people. Red blood usually appears when the tumor is located in the descending colon, sigmoid or rectum. That’s because the blood does not have sufficient time to coagulate before showing up in your stools.
However, keep in mind there are many other reasons why you might find red blood in your stools, such as anal fissures, hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, and even harmless colon polyps that may start bleeding without turning into cancer.