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For the public COLORECTAL CANCER Disease symptoms

What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer can have a variety of symptoms, although these might be almost imperceptible at very early stages of the disease.

  • A change in your normal bowel habit for no obvious reason, lasting longer than six weeks, should not be ignored. It can be diarrhoea or constipation, a feeling of not having emptied your bowel properly after a bowel motion, or difficult emptying. Thin or ribbon-like stools may be a symptom of advanced colorectal cancer.
  • Bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stools – the blood may be bright red or dark in colour – is another warning sign.
  • Slow, chronic blood loss within the body – such as from a colorectal cancer – can cause iron deficiency anaemia. Its symptoms may involve fatigue and weakness, sometimes also dyspnoea.
  • General abdominal discomfort, such as frequent gas pains, bloating, and/or cramps might also be symptoms of colorectal cancer.
  • Weight loss with no known reason might also be linked to colorectal cancer.
  • As colon cancer grows, several symptoms may appear. Bowel obstruction may produce symptoms of abdominal distension, pain, nausea, and vomiting.

It is important to bear in mind that all of the above-mentioned symptoms can be caused by non-malignant and less serious diseases. In particular, these involve haemorrhoids, infectious and inflammatory bowel diseases. However, colorectal cancer can develop over a long period without any symptoms, and manifest itself at an advanced stage of the disease. In case of any doubts, it is essential to visit a GP, who should make arrangements for all necessary examinations.

Adapted from www.linkos.cz, the official information portal of the Czech Society for Oncology.


Last updated on 12 January 2015