Stomach pain is an often-overlooked sign of colon cancer. If you also notice a change in your bathroom habits, contact your primary care physician ASAP.

Common Signs of Colon Cancer to Discuss with Your Doc

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Regular screenings with your primary care physician (PCP) are your best bet for catching cancer early, when it is most treatable.

This is especially true when it comes to colon cancer.

Most cases of colon cancer begin with benign clumps of cells called polyps that, given time and opportunity to grow, can eventually evolve into colon cancers.

Early colon cancers often produce no symptoms indicating anything is wrong. It isn’t until the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage that people begin to suspect something might be off.

One symptom to watch for is a change in bowel habits – whether frequency, consistency or color of your stool – that lasts longer than four weeks.

Most colon cancers are diagnosed through a good cancer screening program,” says Dr. John Bossian, a family medicine physician at Straub Medical Center – Kailua Clinic.

If you're constantly constipated or have blood in your stool, speak with your doctor – these could be signs of colon cancer.

Late-stage colon cancer signs and symptoms include:

  • Cramping or abdominal pain/discomfort.

  • Feeling like you need to have a bowel movement even after having one.

  • Rectal bleeding.

  • Abdominal or rectal masses.

  • Change in stool diameter.

  • Rectal mass or pain.

  • Fatigue.

  • Unintentional weight loss.

If you experience any of these symptoms, Bossian advises leaving embarrassment at the door and speaking with your PCP immediately.

“We encourage patients to discuss abnormal changes with their bowel movements or other health concerns with their primary care physicians,” he encourages. “Together, with these discussions, we may decide the best screening method for you. This may lead to earlier detection of colon cancer or precancerous polyps, and may ultimately save your life.

“Remember, the early bird catches the worm, or in this case, the precancerous polyp before it is a cancer," Bossian adds. “Save a life – your own! – and discuss colon cancer screening with your PCP.”

The American Cancer Society recommends beginning colon cancer screenings at age 45 for those at average risk.

For a list of other important preventive health screenings to discuss with your PCP, click here.



Published on: March 4, 2022