The human digestive system is amazingly complex. Every day we are learning more about the intricacies, nuances, and vitality of our guts! However, this complexity also means detecting signs of colon cancer can be complex and nuanced too. Many early signs of colon cancer appear similar to irritable bowel syndrome or a digestive infection. And yet colon cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related death for both men and women in the United States, so even possible symptoms should be taken seriously.
So here are seven warning signs that tell you it’s time to contact a physician to be screened for colon cancer.
Are Your Bowel Movements Unusual?
Bowel movements fluctuate frequently, often for minor reasons. However, a permanent change in bowel movements lasting for more than a few days could be a sign of more permanent health complications.
Are You Regularly Bloated and Cramped?
Cramps and bloating are caused by a variety of reasons, including your last meal! But chronic bloating and cramps are a sign your digestive system is struggling to function normally, which is always worth checking out.
Your Bowels Always Feel Full
A potential sign of colon cancer is the feeling of constantly full bowels, even after going to the restroom. This is often a sign of a blockage including, potentially, colon cancer.
Is Your Stool Bloody?
Seeing blood in your stool is a scary experience. Sometimes this could be streaks of blood, while other times the stool has a darker, tarry appearance. This is frequently a sign of hemorrhoids or another, less mild malady; however, it is always an indicator that it is time to schedule a doctor’s visit, to make sure the cause isn’t more serious.
Your Weight Plummets Without Cause
Rapid, unexpected weight loss is a leading sign of colon cancer. Not only are cancer cells siphoning off the body’s energy, the immune system is fighting overtime against them. Additionally, tumors often create bowel changes that compound weight loss. Experiencing dramatic weight loss, along with some of the above symptoms, is your body’s warning sign telling you it’s time to get checked out.
You Experience High Levels of Fatigue
Everyone has low-energy days, but fatigue is something else–a chronic tiredness that doesn’t leave after a good night’s rest. As the immune system works around the clock to fight off illness, the bowels struggle to operate properly, especially in the case of colon cancer.
How Can I Prevent Colorectal Cancer?
While one factor in colon cancer is genetics, there are many factors that can be controlled through changes in lifestyle or behavior. A sedentary lifestyle is linked with an increased risk of colon cancer, as is obesity. Regular exercise and activity help keep the body mass index (BMI) in a healthy range, and a high-fiber diet is strongly encouraged.
Many vices, such as smoking or heavy alcohol use, are connected to colon cancer as well, as are fatty, red, or processed meats. The latter is especially true for women. The good news is that eliminating smoking, cutting back on drinking, and eating healthier won’t just lower your risk of colon cancer, it’ll make you feel better as well!
What Do I Do Now?
If you’re experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms or want to schedule a screening for colon cancer, request an appointment with Dr. Sameer Islam for both honest and professional care. Early screenings and preventive measures can go a long way in the prevention of colorectal cancer.