Colorectal cancer is a very common form of cancer that accounts for the second leading cause of death from this disease. It is the third most common form of cancer and is responsible for thousands of deaths every year. This is a disease that progresses very slowly and may go undetected for several years. Many of its side effects are interpreted as being caused by other conditions and they cannot be relied on to determine whether or not cancer is present.
The most effective means of detecting colorectal cancer in its early stages is through colonoscopy. These tests will help your doctor determine whether or not you are suffering from the disease. If it is caught in the early stages, the prognosis is very good for treatment. For adults over the age of fifty, when risks increase, it is recommended that you have a colonoscopy at least once every five to ten years. For those that have higher risks factors, such as a family history of cancer, or developing another form of cancer, more frequent studies may be recommended.
Colorectal cancer is typically found in the colon, rectum or appendix. It is characterized by large tumors that grow undeterred in the large bowel. Since the side effects early on in the disease are minimal, many patients never know that they are affected until it is too late. There are a few warning signs however that may indicate that the disease may be present. They include:
– This is a symptom that may go undetected, especially if the blood is dark. Blood in stool may be traced to a tumor in the colon or rectum, and may vary from being bright red to a very dark maroon color that is almost black. It is very important to monitor the color and consistency of your stools.
– Constipation that occurs with regularity, such as more than three times a week, is an indication that there may be a blockage in the bowel. Narrowing of the stool is another warning sign. Any sudden change in bowel habits that cannot be attributed to diet or exercise modification should be evaluated.
– This is frequently the result of a tumor that is bleeding into the intestinal tract. It may cause weakness or dizziness and is quite common. Unexplained anemia that cannot be traced to another source should be investigated.