Multiple studies have shown that men are less likely than women to visit the doctor for medical problems, but when it comes to detecting colon cancer, some symptoms just shouldn’t be ignored. What may appear to be normal body changes or harmless symptoms can actually be the early warning signs of colon cancer, and delaying treatment can be deadly. The following are important early warning signs of colon cancer men should never ignore:
Changes in bowel habits
Bowel changes can result from diet, sickness, fluid intake and activity level, but symptoms that appear suddenly and last beyond two weeks may indicate colon cancer. Persistent constipation, diarrhea and changes in the size or appearance of the stool should be discussed with your doctor.
Pain or cramping in the abdomen can indicate a variety of medical problems, one of which is colon cancer. Tenderness in the abdominal area could indicate a perforation in the bowel or a blockage caused by a large tumor.
Excessive gas or bloating may indicate that a tumor in the colon is causing blockage. This is sometimes the only early warning sign for cancers higher up in the colon (Source: Everyday Health).
Blood in the toilet or in your stools could be the result of hemorrhoids or an anal fissure, but it should never be brushed off as normal. Bright red blood is an indicator of active bleeding and could signify a tumor towards the end of the colon.
Stools that are exceptionally narrow (pencil-sized) may indicate an obstruction in the bowel caused by a large tumor.
Cancer cell activity can cause the body to feel week and fatigued. Talk to your doctor if you regularly feel exhausted, even after getting plenty of rest.
Shortness of breath
Cancer is taxing on the entire body and can cause you to feel out of breath during normal daily activities.
Losing weight without making any changes to your diet or activity levels could be a sign of cancer. Pain caused by tumors could result in loss of appetite, and cancer cell activity can increase metabolism, resulting in unintended weight loss (Source: Newsmax).
Recognizing the early warning signs of colon cancer can be life-saving, but it’s important to remember that symptoms are not always present in the early stages of colon cancer. Routine screening colonoscopies are crucial to diagnose pre-cancerous polyps before they turn deadly. Talk to your doctor about the right time to be screened and find a center near you.