Colon Cancer: Symptoms, Stages, Causes, And Handling

Colon cancer develops when tumorous growths course inward the big intestine. It oftentimes produces no symptoms inwards the early stages, but people should run into a medico if they notice persistent changes in bowel habits.

The colon, or big intestine, is where the trunk draws out water and table salt from solid waste matter. The waste material so moves through the rectum together with exits the trunk through the anus. Rectal canceroriginates in the rectum, the concluding several inches of the big intestine, closest to the anus.

Colorectal cancer, which describes co-occurring colon cancer and rectal cancer, is mutual.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S., aside from pare cancers. In 2021, the ACS predicts that 104,270 people inward the U.S. volition receive a new diagnosis of colon cancer.

Healthcare professionals recommend regular colorectal cancer screenings for adults aged 45–75.

In this article, nosotros wait at how to recognize together with treat colon cancer, why it develops, and how to preclude it.

Symptoms as well as signs may include i or more than of the following:

  • diarrhea orconstipation
  • changes in stool consistency, such every bit loose, narrow stools
  • blood inward the stool, which may make stools appear nighttime brownish or dark
  • brilliant crimson bleeding from the rectum
  • abdominal hurting, cramping, bloating, or gas
  • continual urges to defecate despite passing stools
  • weakness together withfatigue
  • unexplained weight loss
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • Fe-deficiencyanemia

Weight loss in addition to abdominal hurting usually occur inwards the later stages of the affliction.

If cancer spreads to a new location inward the torso, such equally the liver, it tin can drive additional symptoms, such equallyjaundice.

Early symptoms

Colon cancer ofttimes causes no symptoms inward the earliest stages, but symptoms may become more noticeable equally the illness progresses. If people practise have symptoms inward the early stages, they may include:

  • blood inwards the stool
  • a alter inwards frequency or type of bowel movements, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrow, ribbon-like stools
  • the feeling of not emptying the bowels after a bowel movement
  • abdominal pain, cramping, or bloating
  • nausea as well as vomiting
  • anemia, due to intestinal haemorrhage
  • loss of appetite
  • fatigue in addition to weakness
  • unexplained weight loss

Symptoms in males

According to Brigham together with Women’sHospital, symptoms of colon cancer commonly appear the same in males and females. Males may notice the symptoms listed in a higher place.

Learn more nearly colon cancer inward males hither.

Symptoms in females

Females may experience the same symptoms equally listed higher up. In add-on, if people who are menstruating hold anemia from coloncancer, they may have got irregular menstrual cycles.

There are different ways of assigning a stage to cancer. The stages betoken how far cancer has spread as well as the size of any tumors.

In colon cancer, the stages prepare equally follows:

  • Stage 0: Also known equally carcinoma inward situ, at this dot, the cancer is in a really early stage. It has not grown farther than the inner layer of the colon as well aswill ordinarily be slow to care for.
  • Stage 1: Cancer has grown into the side by side layer of tissue.
  • Stage ii: Cancer has reached the outer layers of the colon but has not spread beyond the colon.
  • Stage 3: Cancer has grown through the outer layers of the colon together with reached one to three lymph nodes. It has not spread to distant sites.
  • Stage 4: Cancer has reached other tissues beyond the wall of the colon. Asstage 4 progresses, colon cancer reaches distant parts of the torso.

Learn most the outlook for phase 4 colon cancer hither.

Usually, cells follow an orderly physical process of growth, segmentation, and expiry. Cancer can develop when cells grow together with dissever uncontrollably as well as practise not choke at the normal dot inward their life bike.

According to the ACS, researchers are unsure of the exact crusade of colon cancer, but sure factors may increment the risk.

Cancer happens as a final result of changes in deoxyribonucleic acid within cells. Certain genes called oncogenes assistance cells remain live, grow, in addition to separate. Tumor suppressor geneshelp regulate prison cell partition together with prison cell expiry.

Changes to deoxyribonucleic acid can bear upon oncogenes in addition to tumor suppressor genes, resulting in multiple cistron changes that may Pb to colon cancer.

Polyps are growths that grade on the within of the colon. Polyps are noncancerous, but cancer tin set about with some types of polyps.

If a someone has a type of noncancerous polyp called an adenomatous polyp, they have got an increased risk of developing colon cancer. These polyps course on the inner walls of the large intestine.

Cancerous cells may spread from malignant tumors to other parts of the body through the blood together with lymphsystems.

These cancer cells tin can grow together with invade good for you tissue nearby too throughout the body inward a physical process called metastasis. The outcome is a more serious, less treatable status.

The exact causes of colon cancer are unknown, but in that location are several potential risk factors.


Colon cancer tin can train from precancerous polyps that grow inward the big intestine. Some of these polyps may grow into malignant colon cancer if a surgeon does non withdraw them during the early on stages of handling. Types of polyps include:


Adenomas may resemble the lining of a healthy colon but appear unlike nether a microscope. They can become cancerous.

Hyperplastic polyps

Colon cancer rarely develops from hyperplastic polyps, every bit they are typically benign.

Learn more than almost colon polyps here.


Uncontrolled cell growthtin occur next genetic harm or changes to DNA.

Most genetic mutations occur during a soul’s lifetime, rather than a mutation they inherited from a family unit member.

Aroundfive–10% of colon cancers result from specific hereditary atmospheric condition that increase the risk of polyps, colon cancer, in addition to potentially other cancers inward some members of the family.

Several inherited conditions also increase the risk of colon cancer, including:

  • attenuated familial adenomatous polyposis
  • familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
  • Gardner syndrome, which is a different type of FAP
  • Lynch syndrome, or hereditary nonpolyposiscolorectal cancer
  • juvenile polyposis syndrome
  • Muir–Torre syndrome, which is a variant of Lynch syndrome
  • MUTYH-associated polyposis
  • Peutz–Jeghers syndrome
  • Turcotsyndrome, another variant of FAP

It is possible to have got these genetic features without developing cancer.

Traits, habits, and diet

Age is a significant risk factor for colon cancer. Around 90% of people who have a diagnosis of colorectal cancer are over 50 years of age. However, it is becoming more than common inwards people underfifty.

Colon cancer is more likely to touch people with inactive lifestyles, those with obesity, together with individuals who utilisation tobacco.

As the colon is function of thedigestive organisation, diet too nutrition play cardinal roles inwards its evolution.

Low fiber diets tin contribute. Also, according to ane 2019 review, people who consume excessive amounts of the following have got an increased risk:

  • saturated fats
  • cerise meat
  • alcohol
  • processed meat

Underlying weather condition

Some weather condition together with treatments hold links to an increased risk of colon cancer. These include:

  • a medical history ofpolyps
  • inflammatory bowel diseases, such equally ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s illness
  • other cancers, such equally breast, ovarian, or endometrial
  • obesity or existence overweight

Other risk factors

Other risk factors for colon cancer include:

  • having a parent, sibling, or kid with ahistory of colon or rectal cancer
  • a personal history of colon, rectal, or ovarian cancer
  • a personal history of polyps 1 centimeter or more in size, or with abnormal cells
  • inherited genetic weather, such as Lynch syndrome
  • having chronic ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s illness for 8 years or longer
  • regularly consuming alcohol iii or more than times a solar day
  • smoking cigarettes
  • older age
  • lack of physical activeness
  • depression fiber, high fatdiets lacking inward fruit and vegetables
  • race as well as ethnicity, equally African Americans, Asians, as well as people of Hispanic descent may receive a colon cancer diagnosis at a after phase of the disease

Learn more than most racial disparities in cancer diagnosis andhandling here.

Treatment volition depend on the type too stage of colon cancer. A physician will also consider a someone’s age, overall health, too certain other characteristics when deciding on the best treatment pick.

There is no unmarried handling for colon cancer, together with options may include operation, chemotherapy, in addition to radiations therapy.

The aim of handling will live to take away the cancer, foreclose its spread, together with cut any uncomfortable symptoms.


The main handling for early on stage colon cancer is normally surgery. If the cancer is only acquaint inwards a polyp, people may merely require a polypectomy to take away the cancerous polyp.

Surgery to take away office or all of the colon is a colectomy. During this process, a surgeon volition remove the part of the colon that contains cancer, as good equally some of the surrounding expanse.

A surgeon may take awaynearby lymph nodes to trim back the risk of spreading. The surgeon volition and then either reattach the good for you portion of the colon or create a stoma, depending on the extent of the colectomy.

A stoma is a surgical opening inwards the wall of the abdomen. Through this opening, waste product passes into a handbag, which removes the demand for the lower office of the colon. This is a colostomy.

Other types of surgery include:

  • Endoscopy: A surgeon may live able to withdraw some minor, localized cancers using this process. They volition insert a sparse, flexible metro with a calorie-free and photographic camera attached. It will also hold an attachment for removing cancerous tissue.
  • Laparoscopic surgical operation: A surgeon volition make several small-scale incisions inward theabdomen. This may be an selection to withdraw larger polyps.
  • Palliative surgical operation: The aim of this type of surgery is to salve symptoms inward cases of untreatable or advanced cancers. A surgeon volition endeavor to salvage whatsoever blockage of the colon too handle pain, bleeding, as well as other symptoms.


During chemotherapy, a cancer attention squad will administer medications thatinterfere with the cell partitioning physical process. They accomplish this past disrupting proteins or DNA to harm as well as kill cancer cells.

These treatments target any rapidly dividing cells, including salubrious ones. These tin can usually recover from whatsoever chemotherapy-induced damage, but cancer cells cannot. The medicines travel through the whole torso, together with the handling will take home in cycles, thence the body has fourth dimension to heal betwixt doses.

A cancer specialist, or oncologist, may recommend chemotherapy to treat colon cancer:

  • before surgical operation to shrink a tumor to arrive easier to take away
  • after surgical process to kill any remaining cancer cells
  • if cancer has spread to other organs

Side effects ofchemotherapy may include:

  • hair loss
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • vomiting

Combination therapies oftentimes utilization multiple types of chemotherapy or combine chemotherapy with other treatments.

Learn more than about chemotherapy for colon cancer here.

Radiation therapy

Radiationtherapy kills cancer cells by focusing high free energy gamma rays on them. A cancer care squad may use external radiation therapy, which expels these rays from a machine outside of the trunk.

With internal radiation, a Dr. will implant radioactive materials near the cancer site inwards the grade of a seed.

Some metals, such equally radium, emit gamma rays. The radiation may also come up from high energy X-rays. A medicomay request radiation therapy as a standalone treatment to shrink a tumor or destroy cancer cells. It tin can also be effective with other cancer treatments.

For colon cancer, cancer aid teams tend non to administer radiation treatments until the subsequently stages. They may employment them if early on phase rectal cancer has penetrated the wall of the rectum or traveled to nearby lymph nodes.

Side effects of radiation handling may include:

  • mild pare changes that resemblesunburn or suntan
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • appetite loss
  • weight loss

Most side effects will resolve or subside a few weeks after completing handling.

A physician volition carry out a consummate physicalexamination together with inquire nigh personal together with family medical histories.

They may also usage the following diagnostic techniques to place together with phase cancer:


During a colonoscopy, a medico will insert a long, flexible metro with a photographic camera on i stop into the rectum to inspect the within of the colon.

A someone may have got to follow a special diet before the procedure, such equally a clear liquiddiet 1–3 days beforehand. The colon will also require cleansing with strong laxatives inwards a process known equally bowel prep.

Ifthe doctor finds polyps inwards the colon, a surgeon will remove them too post them for biopsy. In a biopsy, a pathologist examines the polyps under a microscope to expect for cancerous or precancerous cells.

A similar process, called a flexible sigmoidoscopy, allows a MD to examine a smaller share of the colorectal area. This methoddoes non attain as far as a colonoscopy. Also, a full colonoscopy may not live necessary if a sigmoidoscopy does non reveal polyps or if they are only within a pocket-size area.

Learn how to prepare for a colonoscopy here.

Double-contrastbarium enema

This X-ray process uses a liquid called barium to supply clearer images of the colon than a touchstone X-ray. A person may demand to avoid eating or drinking before undergoing a barium X-ray.

A MD volition inject a liquid solution containing the element barium into the colon through the rectum. They follow this with a brief pumping of air to shine over the barium layerto supply the most accurate results.

A radiologist will then behaviour an X-ray of the colon as well as rectum. The barium appears white on the X-ray, in addition to whatsoever tumors too polyps volition appear every bit night outlines.

If a biopsy suggests the presence of colon cancer, the doc may lodge a thorax X-ray, an ultrasound, or aCT scan of the lungs, liver, as well as abdomen to assess the spread of cancer.

Following diagnosis, a MD will make up one’s mind the stage of the cancer based on the size as well as extent of the tumor together with the spread to nearby lymph nodes as well as distant organs.

The phase of a somebody’s cancer will decide their treatment options and inform their outlook.

Learn about other diagnostic tests for colon cancer hither.

There is no guaranteed way to prevent colon cancer. However, some preventive measures may include:

  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • exercising regularly
  • consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, in addition to whole grains
  • limiting the intake of saturated fats together with blood-red meat

People should also consider limiting their alcohol consumption too quitting smoking.


Symptoms may not appear until cancer has progressed. For this reason, the American College of Physicians recommends screening for people aged fifty–75 years, including fecal testing once every ii years, a colonoscopy every 10 years, or a sigmoidoscopy every 10 years plus fecaltesting every 2 years.

The regularity of screening depends on an private’s flat of risk. People tin can consult their Dr. for personal recommendations.

The ACS calculates a soul’sprobable take chances of survival using a 5-year survival rate depending on the phase of colon cancer:

  • localized: 91%
  • regional: 72%
  • distant: 14%
  • all stages combined: 63%

However, these survival rates are from 2010–2016, and handling as well as enquiry are continually advancing. Early detection together with treatment are the most effective ways to improve the outlook of a mortal with colon cancer.

Colon cancer is a type of colorectal cancer. It way that there is a cancerous growth inward the colon.

Signs of colon cancer may not live obvious in its before stages. However, they may include pain, rectal haemorrhage, or blood inward the stool.

There are many treatment options for colorectal cancer. These include chemotherapy, radiations therapy, in addition to surgery.