Currently, colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in women and the third most common cancer in men. Colon cancer (colorectal carcinoma) is a disease that can be fatal.
What is particularly treacherous about bowel cancer is that it often causes no symptoms at first. Therefore it is vital to know the initial symptoms when they occur. Even though many symptoms of bowel cancer can point to other diseases, an examination for bowel cancer is highly recommended. Because if treated early enough, bowel cancer can be cured 100 percent.
Bowel cancer usually develops from intestinal polyps, benign growths of the intestinal mucosa. The chances of recovery are so high because it can take five to ten years before these growths lead to bowel cancer.
1. bloody stool
One of the most noticeable symptoms of colon cancer is bloody stool. It does not matter whether the color of the blood is reddish, dark or black. Reddish blood indicates cancer of the rectum. If the blood is black or dark, this indicates cancer of the stomach and duodenum. The differences in color are explained by the distance to the rectum.
Blood in the stool can also be caused by haemorrhoids and other intestinal diseases and is therefore not a sure sign of intestinal cancer. Nevertheless, you should take bloody stools seriously and have a doctor examine you. The doctor can determine whether the blood is mixed with the stool (bowel cancer) or is only superficial (hemorrhoids).
2. constipation and diarrhoea, alternating or alone
Constipation and diarrhoea can also be clear signs of colon cancer. In some patients, constipation and diarrhoea occur alternately. The physician calls the alternation between diarrhoea and constipation paradoxical diarrhoea.
The diarrhoea is caused by the tumor.
The tumor constricts the bowel and initially accumulates stool. Now bacteria start to decompose the stool and become liquid. Another unpleasant effect of this bacterial decomposition is a foul-smelling stench.
If you suffer either only constipation or only diarrhoea that recurs, this can also be a symptom of intestinal cancer. So these symptoms do not necessarily have to alternate. They are also symptoms of bowel cancer on their own.
Flatulence is usually harmless and up to 24 flatulences a day are quite normal. However, under certain conditions they can also be a symptom of an illness.
If, however, stool is accidentally released when you have flatulence, you should be alarmed. This could be a sign of bowel cancer. Doctors also call this symptom of illness the phenomenon of the “false friend”.
The cause of the phenomenon of the “false friend” is lack of tension in the anal sphincter muscle. This can be triggered by intestinal cancer that is located far down in the intestine. If this cancer has affected the sphincter muscle, its functionality is impaired.
If mucus and blood are added to the unwanted stool, the alarm signal is even clearer.
4. Frequent toilet visits
Has your bowel movements changed recently? If you have to go to the toilet frequently and this at unusual times of the day, this could also be a sign of intestinal cancer. However, other diseases can also be the cause, such as ulcerative colitis, which should not be underestimated, or a relatively harmless irritable bowel.
In colorectal cancer, the tumor has altered the intestinal tissue and its nerves in such a way that the symptoms are reminiscent of irritable bowel disease. The result is that the entire intestinal structure becomes disordered.
As with almost all other symptoms of bowel cancer, there is usually not one symptom alone. These can include the symptoms already mentioned, bloody stools, flatulence, constipation and diarrhoea.
5. Pencil chair
If the shape of the chair is very thin, resembles a pencil and smells unpleasant, it is a pencil chair. This symptom of bowel cancer occurs when the intestinal lumen in the rectum is severely constricted. The intestinal lumen is the space in the bowel through which stool and chyme move.
If the pencil stool is caused by bowel cancer, it has increased in size so that only little stool is allowed to pass. The pencil stool is accompanied by an arduous emptying of the stool.
If the pencil stool only occurs briefly, it is probably harmless. However, if it does not stop and other symptoms such as flatulence, constipation, abdominal pain, mucus and/or blood leakage occur, a serious illness can be expected.
6. Feeling of fullness
They must have experienced a feeling of fullness after eating. Usually, when they have eaten too much and too unhealthily. Often heartburn is added. Stress and lack of exercise can also be the reason for a feeling of fullness.
Exercise, relaxation and a change of diet are usually helpful here.
This is unusual, however, if you have eaten very little but still feel full.
This can be an indication of bowel cancer. This phenomenon is caused by the tumors. They fill the intestinal lumen and even the little food they eat has hardly any space in the intestine. Again, pay attention to the other symptoms that can be a sign of bowel cancer.
7. pain in bowel movement
If the pain during bowel movement is due to intestinal cancer, it is cancer of the rectum. The tumor narrows the rectum in such a way that the stool, similar to a constipation, has difficulty passing through the anal canal.
Side effects may include pencil stool, blood and mucus during bowel movement. Flatulence can also occur.
Healthy people sometimes experience pain during bowel movements, usually in connection with constipation.
These usually subside quickly. Especially if you pay attention to your diet and exercise a lot.
In some cases, anal fissures can occur – a tear in the intestinal canal. An anal fissure has some symptoms that are consistent with some of the symptoms of bowel cancer.
8. tumbling in the bowels
Her stomach rumbles and loud noises can often be heard. Something is brewing here. Usually it is a normal digestive disorder associated with flatulence and diarrhoea. But rumbling in the stomach can also be a symptom of bowel cancer.
If cancerous tumors are the cause, they hold up the food pulp and stool to be digested and the bacteria decompose it longer than normal. This leads to liquefaction of the stool with simultaneous development of fermentation gases.
These gases are then released as diarrhoea and flatulence. Rumbling in the stomach is also accompanied by other symptoms of intestinal cancer such as bloating. If you have such symptoms, it is better to see your doctor and have regular check-ups.
9. Incomplete evacuation of the bowels
If the intestinal cancer has affected the intestine, a feeling of incomplete bowel emptying can develop. The tumors fill the intestinal lumen and block the stool, resulting in a feeling of incomplete evacuation of the bowel.
This feeling is not unjustified, as the bowel is actually not completely emptied. The tumors filling the lumen further intensify this feeling.
The unpleasant feeling of incomplete bowel evacuation is also not an isolated symptom.
Therefore, the feeling of incomplete bowel evacuation is often caused by pencil stool. Feelings of fullness, flatulence, rumbling in the abdomen, abdominal pain and cramps in the rectum and many other symptoms of bowel cancer are also present.
10. Mucus or blood from the rectum
The secretion of blood and mucus can be a clearer sign of colon cancer. The escaping blood and mucus show that a formerly harmless intestinal polyp has now become a malignant tumor.
The development of an intestinal polyp into a tumor can take between 5 and 10 years.
In order to prevent this from happening, regular colonoscopies should be performed from about 50 onwards. It is best to find out more about this from your health insurance company.
Usually the intervals between colonoscopies are about 10 years. Alternatively, a stool sample can also be taken for control purposes.
Since mucus and bleeding from the bowel also occur due to other diseases and due to changes in the diet of the bowel, other symptoms should also be considered.
11. mild fever
Sometimes a slight fever can also occur with intestinal cancer. This is a rather vague symptom of bowel cancer and should not be underestimated. You should therefore check what other symptoms are associated with a light fever.
These symptoms associated with the light fever can be the symptoms already mentioned, such as blood in the stool, pencil stool, discharge of mucus from the rectum, rumbling in the stomach, abdominal pain or the symptoms that follow, such as painful cramps and abdominal pain in the rectum.
A slight fever often occurs together with symptoms such as anemia, reduced performance and fatigue. You should not ignore this combination of symptoms and go to the doctor quickly.
12. Anemia, reduced performance and fatigue
If colon cancer is already advanced, symptoms such as fatigue, anemia, and reduced performance will appear. The tumors are now so large that they affect the entire body. Its outgrowths probably already affect other organs of the body.
The cancer tumors now bind enough blood and release it into the intestines to cause anemia. The consequences of this anemia are then fatigue and reduced performance.
These symptoms of intestinal cancer usually only occur after other symptoms such as blood in the stool, loss of blood and mucus, flatulence, and other digestive problems have already occurred. Other causes of anemia, such as open wounds, are not associated with these symptoms.
13. Cramps and stomach ache
Abdominal pain and cramps are very clear signs of colon cancer if they occur in the lower abdomen and rectum. Unfortunately this is a sign of advanced bowel cancer.
The tumors are now so large that they place a heavy burden on the bowel. Normal intestinal activity is probably no longer possible. Many of the symptoms mentioned so far will also have occurred.
The anal fissure also causes cramps and fever in the lower abdomen and rectum and also shows other symptoms similar to cancer such as pencil fissure. A visit to the doctor and further examinations are strongly recommended.