As we near the end of March and Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month comes to an end, it’s important to remember what symptoms you should be watching out for and how to know when to call your doctor. Colorectal Cancer is often found once it has progressed, since many people don’t have symptoms or ignore the symptoms that they do suffer from. Many common signs can also be caused by other less serious problems, such as infection, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease. Keep reading to learn what symptoms to look out for, ways to prevent, and when to see your doctor.
Common Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
- Feeling like you need to empty your bowels
- Blood in stool
- Cramping or pain in the abdomen
- Rectal Bleeding
- Weakness or Fatigue
- Unexplained Weight Loss
When to Call Your Doctor
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, or are having any bowel issues, it is important to visit your Primary Care Physician to explain your symptoms and discuss the possibility of colorectal cancer. If your doctor suspects the possibility of cancer, or you are over the age of 45, they will suggest a screening.
How to Prevent Colorectal Cancer
With symptoms often being minor, or possibly having no symptoms at all, it is common for people to not find out they have colorectal cancer until it has progressed and spread. Because of this, it is crucial to get screened, even if you don’t have any symptoms. Doctors recommend getting screened if you are over the age of 45, or if you have a family history of colon cancer. Finding cancer early often allows for more treatment options and a higher rate of survival. Colorectal cancer screenings can help find cancer in people that don’t have symptoms, which can be life saving. Screenings can not only detect cancer, it can help prevent by finding and removing pre-cancerous growths called polyps. Lifestyle changes like exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, not using tobacco, cutting out alcohol, etc., can also help prevent colorectal cancer.
During Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and all year long, take the opportunity to learn more about the disease and share what you know with others. Colorectal cancer is typically slow growing, so with proper screening and early diagnosis, there are many treatment options and hopeful outcomes. Take this time to talk to your doctor about screening options for colorectal cancer.
For a complete list of Southwoods Health physicians who perform colonoscopies, click the “Learn More” button below.