What is Bowel Cancer?

Bowel cancer is typically referred to as colorectal cancer. It can affect anyone and takes the lives of many each year. Know the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer so that you can catch it earlier.

Colorectal cancer affects the colon, or large intestine, and the rectum. The large intestine moves waste material the final lap of the digestive cycle until it is eliminated through the rectum. When bowel cancer is caught in the early stages it has a very high cure rate.

The best way to detect it early is through regular examinations. Starting at age fifty, men and women are advised to get a colonoscopy. A doctor can look through a long fiber optic scope and view the inside of the intestinal tract. They can see anything that looks suspicious and take a biopsy and have it tested for the presence of cancer. If you have a family history of bowel cancer, you may be asked by your doctor to begin your colonoscopy screenings at an earlier age to be on the safe side.

Symptoms

How will you know if you are affected by colon cancer? One telltale sign that something is going on is blood in the stools. The color is usually dark.

Stools can also change shape. They get thinner than usual in the presence of possible cancer. Normally, stools are thick and take the shape of the intestines. Thinner stools could indicate the presence of a blockage.

People with bowel cancer have changes to their bowel habits. If you regularly have a bowel movement every day, you may have one less frequently than you are used to. These bowels may alternate between diarrhea and constipation. This can be a symptom of other conditions, so visiting a doctor is the only way to have a definitive diagnosis.

Bowel problems can cause cramping and pain in your abdomen. This can be followed by bloating and gas.

Other symptoms are usually present away from the site of the possible cancer. Many with cancer exhibit these additional signs. People with bowel cancer may lose significant amounts of weight. This can be a result of a lack of appetite. Your energy levels may also wane and you’ll feel tired more often.

Nausea and vomiting are also common when cancer is present in the body. These symptoms alone can mean nothing more than a bug, but more when you are diagnosed with anemia and jaundice. See your doctor right away.

Keep track of your symptoms and how long you have experienced them. You will need this information for your doctor. After running a battery of tests and a colonoscopy he can offer you options for the best course of action. Bowel cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence if you know the symptoms and get help.