This symptom usually appears first in patients with colon cancer.

The vast majority of people do not take pleasure in candidly discussing the topic of faeces, even though it is an essential matter to discuss with a healthcare expert. It is important to pay attention to your bowel movements and discuss them with your doctor. Doing so could save your life. Because it may be a sign of a more serious condition such as Crohn’s disease, colitis, or colon cancer, your doctor must be aware if there is blood in your stool or if something else is off with your health. This is a significant issue because cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, and early detection is the most important factor in increasing your chances of surviving the disease. Knowing the symptoms of colon cancer and rectal cancer can help save your life because the American Cancer Society forecasts that there will be 106,180 new cases of colon cancer and 44,850 new cases of rectal cancer in 2022.

“Colorectal malignancies are among the top five prevalent tumours discovered in the adult population of the United States,” says Dr Jagdish Khubchandani, MBBS, PhD, a professor of public health at New Mexico State University. Both men and women have a lifetime risk of almost 5% of developing this particular form of cancer at some point in their lives. Unfortuitously, the majority of people won’t learn about the disease until after it has progressed and spread. Precancerous growths or polyps, which are easier to treat and remove than tumours that have grown in size and spread, are the form of cancer that is found in several other people at an early stage during the cancer diagnosis process. The United States Preventive Services Task Force advises getting screened for colorectal cancer between the ages of 50 and 75 for everyone in the country.

“The tough issue about symptoms for colorectal cancer is that many times, people won’t have very many symptoms,” continues Dr Khubchandani. Either that, or people only have symptoms after cancer has advanced to a more advanced stage and spread, or the symptoms are not unique to colorectal cancer, or the symptoms can cause concern even when a person does not have colorectal cancer. Nevertheless, the signs and symptoms can be broken down into the following groups. As usual, we strongly encourage you to seek the medical counsel of your primary care provider. Continue reading, and make sure you don’t miss any of these sure signs that you’ve already had COVID to protect not only your health but also the health of others.


According to Dr Stephanie Pannell, a colorectal surgeon at The University of Toledo Medical Center and assistant professor of surgery at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences in Toledo, Ohio, “colorectal cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in the United States and one of the leading causes of cancer death.” It is common for people to not experience any symptoms until much later in the course of the disease when cancer has already progressed to a more advanced stage. However, if it is caught early and checked for regularly, colon cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer.

Dr James H. Tabibian, PhD, FACP, FASGE, is the author of this work. “Colorectal cancer is common in both men and women and can develop without symptoms up until the late stages of the disease,” says Dr Tabibian, who is a Physician Specialist, GI-Invasive, Director of Endoscopy in the Department of Medicine at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, and Health Sciences Clinical Professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. It is the second largest cause of mortality among cancer patients overall and the fourth most commonly diagnosed form of the disease in the United States, behind only skin cancer. It is projected that one in every 25 people may acquire colorectal cancer during their lifetime, and the disease is responsible for more than 50,000 deaths annually in the United States.

open the bathroom door, go to toilet

According to Dr Tabibian, “Colorectal cancer frequently does not have any early warning signs; however, when it does, it is typically a change in bowel habits (such as newly onset difficulty or straining to have a bowel movement or much thinner stools than before), blood in or on the stool (the poop, that is), or unexplained weight loss.” Whether a patient develops these indicators or other symptoms depends, to a large extent, on the location of cancer. For example, whether the cancer is placed at the beginning of the colon, in the rectum, or anywhere in between, the patient may or may not show any symptoms at all. It is important to note that the presence of these symptoms does not necessarily point to the presence of cancer; however, they should serve as a warning sign that indicates the need for more testing.

In addition, Dr Pannell asks that you keep in mind the following:


The erosions caused by colon cancer can lead to very gradual blood loss, which may or may not be detectable in the stool. Colon cancer is erosive. The vast majority of these patients will arrive with the condition known as anaemia, which is characterised by low haemoglobin levels. Because there are no early warning signals, this is a later symptom, which, unfortunately, is the case with all of the indications. Colonoscopies are recommended for all patients who have anaemia.

-A change in the volume of the stool

A lack of bulk in the faeces may be the result of large tumours that have blocked the colon. We frequently refer to this item as a stool that resembles a pencil.

-Stools that are black and tarry, or those that contain brilliant red blood

Although colon cancer might cause bleeding that is not immediately noticeable, the disease can also cause the stool to be black and tarry, or it can show up as bright red blood in the stool. There are a lot of potential causes for blood in the stool; however, it is also possible that this condition is an early indicator of colon cancer. If you experience rectal bleeding, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible so that you can discuss it with them.

upset woman in toilet by diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids, piles

According to Penn Medicine, a bowel movement is a final stop that food makes on its journey through the digestive tract. Poop is the residue that remains in your digestive tract after your body has absorbed the vital nutrients in the food and drink you consume. This residue is also referred to as stool or faeces. The foods you eat and how you eat them affect your digestive system. Sometimes, changes in your bowel motions can occur simply because you have altered the foods you eat. Alterations in bowel movements can sometimes be a warning indication of a more serious condition. What is “normal” for one person may not be the same for another, but there are certain indicators that can alert you to the possibility that something is not quite right [such as a shift in colour, frequency, or consistency].

“Changes in bowel movement, habit, frequency, or content are a common symptom of colon cancers as the colon is involved with the bowel,” says Dr Khubchandani. “This is because the colon is involved with the intestine.” Constipation, diarrhoea, or a change in stool volume are all possible manifestations of this condition. In some cases, people may also suffer tenseness or the urge to defecate or have a bowel movement that is not resolved by having just one instance of defecating or having a bowel movement. In addition, these symptoms should have been present for a longer period than just a few days to rule out the possibility of mistaking them for more frequent gastrointestinal issues (such as gas, occasional constipation, indigestion, etc.).”

man prostate cancer, premature, ejaculation, fertility, bladder problem

Dr Khubchandani explains, “The presence of blood in the stool can be another early warning sign, but its significance varies according to the stage of the malignancy. This could present itself as bleeding from the rectum or blood mixed with a stool that causes it to be dark in colour (e.g., black or brown). This is because colorectal tumours have the potential to spread throughout the lower intestine, creating lesions that lead to bleeding and the mixing of blood with stool. When the colon is implicated, this type of bleeding is frequently regarded to be one of the primary causes of anaemia in the affected individual.”

The data provided by Cedars Sinai suggest that “The most important fact to remember regarding healthy faeces is that the presence of blood in the stool may be an indication of a major health concern. According to Dr Mark Pimentel, a gastroenterologist at Cedars-Sinai, the first thing you should check for when analysing the contents of your stool is blood. The presence of blood in the faeces, commonly referred to as rectal bleeding, is a symptom that may indicate the presence of cancer or other health conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or colitis.”

stomach pain

In particular, pain in the abdominal region, cramping, bloating (if lymph nodes are involved) or aces, and swelling or distension of the stomach area or abdomen should be considered as symptoms of colorectal cancer along with diagnostic tests and other symptoms. Dr Khubchandani reveals that pain can be an early symptom of colorectal cancer. He says, “Along with bleeding, pain can be an early symptom of colorectal cancers.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Stools should be soft and pass easily. Hard, dry stools might be a sign of constipation. You should notify your healthcare provider if constipation lasts for longer than two weeks.” “Also, if you have nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and have not been able to pass gas or stools, this could mean that there is an obstruction (blockage). You should tell your provider or go to your local emergency department,” the Cleveland Clinic adds.

woman with upset stomach drinking tea

Dr Khubchandani tells us, “There are many common symptoms that are indicators of different types of cancers, such as weakness and fatigue as well as weight loss without making an effort to lose weight. Other symptoms may depend on the cancer’s spread and include difficulty breathing (for example, if cancer has spread to the lungs), nausea, jaundice, vomiting (for example, if cancer has spread to the liver), or cognitive difficulties, confusion, headache, vision or speech problems, and seizures (e.g., when cancer spreads to the brain or spinal cord).

Some factors, such as race, age, and family history, cannot be changed; however, there are other factors to be considered in prevention, such as obesity, smoking, and physical inactivity. It is recommended to add more fibres, fruits, and vegetables to the diet. The role of diet is constantly being investigated; however, it is advisable to add more fibres to the diet.”


Dr Pannell explains, “The main risk factors for colon cancer are having a family history of the disease and advanced age. That said, about 75% of people have no risk factors. That’s why regular screening is so important, even for people who don’t have any known factors that put them at a higher risk.”

Dr Tabibian adds, “The risk of developing almost every cancer increases with age, and colorectal cancer is no exception to this, as suggested by the age-based recommendation for screening in the general population (now starting at age 45). But there are numerous other risk factors as well for developing colorectal cancer, including a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or precancerous colorectal polyps, a genetic/inherited cancer syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease (in particular ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s colitis), and lifestyle factors, such as a diet low in fruit, vegetables, and/or fibre, obesity, tobacco use, and others. Thus, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to colorectal cancer screening, and instead, an individualized assessment is crucial.”

Gastrologist. Doctor's office. Doctor gastroenterologist with probe to perform gastroscopy and colonoscopy

Dr Tabibian underlines, “Colorectal cancer is relatively curable, especially when identified at an early stage. If it is discovered early enough, it can be entirely eradicated by the use of a colonoscopy alone, without the need for any chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. Even if it is detected at a late stage, there are still techniques to treat it, but there is no guarantee that it can be cured.”

Dr Pannell explains, “The earlier detection of cancer increases the likelihood of successful treatment. According to the statistics provided by the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate is 91% if the cancer is only localised. 72% of patients will be alive after five years if the disease has only progressed to the lymph nodes. If cancer has progressed to other organs, the average patient’s chance of surviving the disease for five years is fourteen per cent. If we follow the screening criteria, colon cancer is quite easy to cure and can even be prevented in some cases. This makes it one of the most treatable forms of the disease.”


Award-winning blogger Rabiya Basri uses emojis to help categorize the sections of her interest and inspirational thoughts writer.

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