Colon cancer: 8 warning symptoms
Cancer is one of the most feared diseases . In Spain, in 2015, 220,000 new cases of this condition were diagnosed, according to data from the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM). The future does not seem to be promising in this sense, because the United Nations (UN) estimates that in 2020 it will make 246,713 new cases of cancer in Spain, of which: 97,715 will be women and 148,998 in men.
In this article we will talk about one of the most frequent cancers: colon cancer .
What is cancer
Cells are essential components for our body. Our body is made of millions of billions of these cells that have different functions. These units are grouped to form the tissues and organs of our body. In this way, they cover our vital needs, helping, among other things, in nutrition, breathing or body structure.
When cells multiply uncontrollably and invade adjacent organs or tissues cancer occurs, that is, normal cells become cancerous
Types of cancer
Although the terms cancer and tumor are often confused As if they were referring to the same thing, it's not really like that: cancer is a more serious tumor. Tumors can be benign or malignant.
In the first case, the cells multiply uncontrollably but do not spread to other parts of the body. This type of tumor represents less risk for the life of the person who suffers it, although, in some occasions, it can become a more serious tumor. The malignant tumor or cancer happens when uncontrolled cells spread to other areas of the body, what is called metastasis .
- Related article: "Types of cancer: definition, risks and how they are classified"
What is colon cancer
Colon cancer (or colorectal cancer) is a malignant tumor that occurs because a mucosa of the colon contained in an existing polyp evolves for different reasons to become cancer. According to the anti-cancer organization AECC, cases of this type of tumor are between 28,500 and 33,800 each year in this country. Of these, 20,000 new cases are men and 14,000 are women.
The same institution explains that in Spain the survival after 5 years of suffering from this disease is at this time above the average of European countries, with 64%.
The importance of early diagnosis
An early diagnosis is essential if we want to reach an appropriate cure for this disease , but there are several risk factors that can lead to colon cancer. Risk factors include:
- Being overweight Being overweight or obese increases the risk of colon cancer in both men and women.
- Physical inactivity : Having an active life decreases the risk of suffering from this condition. Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy heart and organism.
- Diet : Diets rich in fruits, vegetables and whole products have been linked to a lower risk of this type of cancer. Reducing the consumption of red meat and processed foods can also reduce the risk of their appearance.
- Alcohol : Several studies have found an increased risk of colon cancer when a person consumes alcohol on a regular basis, especially in the case of men.
- Personal history : personal or family history of cancer is a risk factor for colon cancer, so it is advisable to take preventive measures like the previous ones.
Colon cancer alert symptoms
But. What symptoms can indicate that a person suffers from colon cancer? In the following lines you will find the answer to this question.
1. Blood in the stool
One of the most common symptoms of colon cancer is Bleeding in the stool . The blood may appear with a reddish color or a darker color. While the first may be due to the tumor being in the descending colon, the darker color is usually due to the area affected by cancer is the ascending colon.
2. Diagnosis of anemia
According to Dr. Randall Holcombe, head of the cancer unit at the Mount Sinai Health Center in New York, "a diagnosis of anemia may be the first sign that a person is bleeding internally, even without being able to see any symptoms of bleeding
In the case of women anemia is less likely to be followed with a check-up and additional tests due to menstruation, however, in the case of men, anemia may be a clear indication that you are missing somewhere "Actually, it is common that internal bleeding is not detected until blood appears in the stool.
3. Excessive fatigue
A side effect of slow internal bleeding and anemia is the lack of air . The cause of this may be that cancer cells use the body's energy supply or they affect the way the body produces the energy it gets from food.
4, Feeling of being bloated
As Dr. Randall Holcombe, head of the medical department at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, explains, when the colon is affected, the person feels like it is swollen and may even feel cramps .
Evidently there are many factors that can cause this symptomatology, however, if the symptoms persist, the expert recommends going to a doctor's office as soon as possible.
5. Pain in the abdomen
In addition, Holcombe explains that: colon cancer causes a constant pain in the right side of the abdomen. " This usually occurs in later stages of the disease, especially if the liver is also affected.
6. Variation in depositions
The person suffering from colon cancer may have had a normal bowel rhythm, but there has been a change in their bowel movements. For example, diarrhea or constipation appears . It can also happen that periods of constipation are combined with periods of diarrhea.
7. Closer stools
Maybe when going to the bathroom there is no bleeding in the stool, but that the excrement have a different form to the original and are thinner It is a sign of concern. As Dr. Holcombe says, "this could indicate a restriction in the colon caused by the polyps."
8. Apparition and jaundice
Jaundice is frequent in liver metastases , and refers to the skin and white parts of the eyes turning yellow. Jaundice is common in colon cancer.
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