Bowel cancer is the type of cancer that strikes your colon, also known as your large intestine. Your colon can be found below your stomach. It is a tubular structure that if spread out would be five to six feet in length. Your colon is what is involved in food digestion and if a person gets bowel cancer it usually will affect the lower area of your colon. The last twelve to fifteen centimeters of your colon is referred to as your rectum. This is the area where you will usually find the cancer or tumor growth.
Bowel cancer symptoms
If you have bowel cancer it can interfere with your normal bowel movements and make emptying your bowels a daunting task. Some of the bowel cancer symptoms a man or woman might experience include:
- Constipation—irregular persistent bowel movements are usually associated with having bowel cancer so as the tumor increases in size it becomes difficult to have a bowel movement. Because the tumor is blocking the passage way out the stools are not allowed to smoothly pass through your rectal area. When you have constipation you can also have abdominal pain that can range from moderate to severe.
- Having a bowel movement that is incomplete—many times after you have a bowel movement you may still feel as if you have not been able to completely empty your colon. During the day this feeling of having a partial bowel movement will continue to bother you. When these bowel cancer symptoms happen it is because your colon, due to the tumor, cannot support a full bowel movement. When this happens it is an indicator that the tumor is big enough to prevent your colon form getting rid of all of the fecal matter from your body.
- Diarrhea—if you have this bowel movement change it can cause you to have to rush to the toilet several times a day. When comparing diarrhea with constipation it was found that diarrhea was not as common as constipation when you have bowel cancer.
- The color of your stool is abnormal—when the cancerous tumors start to bleed and you have a bowel movement it can change the color of your stool. If the tumor is present near your anus or in your rectum your stools will be partially covered with the blood from the bleeding tumor. If you are excreting stools that are bright red they are often linked to colorectal cancer. If your bowel movement is black this can be an indication that the tumor has started to grow in your upper gastrointestinal tract.
- Having pencil stools—besides having your stool change in color the size of your stool can be very different with bowel cancer. How wide your stool is will be less than normal. Your stool may appear elongated and thinner causing these bowel cancer symptoms to be referred to as pencil stools.
- Indigestion—because your colon is where most of the digestion happens it is only natural that with bowel cancer you will suffer from indigestion. When you have indigestion you could have flatulence, bloating, and stomach cramps.
- Jaundice—in the later stages of bowel cancer, your cancer is no longer localized and will soon start to invade other organs. Your liver is usually the first organ that has these invading unrestricted cancerous growths. Because it affects your liver the bowel cancer symptoms will be jaundice which is where your skin loses its natural color and starts to turn yellow.
- Anemia—when your tumor bleeds excessively it can cause anemia, which is a condition in which your body will be deprived of sufficient red blood cells. The excessive bleeding is what causes your body to have a decreased red blood cell count.
- Weight loss—with the different bowel cancer symptoms and having to deal with all of them can decrease your desire to eat anything resulting in weight loss.
- Running a high fever—when you run a high fever it may not leave you for at least seven days. Even after your fever subsides you may be predisposed to having high body temperatures again at regular intervals.
If bowel cancer is caught in the early stages there is a possibility of having a complete recovery.