What Are The Symptoms Of Colon Cancer?

Knowing the symptoms of colon cancer so it can be caught early, when it’s most treatable. These symptoms tin include cramping,belly pain, dark or vivid ruby-red blood inwards your stool, or a change in your stool frequency, like persistent diarrhea or constipation.

Whole-body symptoms, such as unintentional weight loss, loss of appetite, or strange tiredness, may also occur inwards those with coloncancer. Iron deficiency anemia in addition to jaundice, which are complications of colon cancer, tin also train.

Research has shown that in that location is a meaning delay between when people first of all noticesigns of colon cancer in addition to when it is really diagnosed. This lag fourth dimension could result in colon cancer spreading further, which lowers the chance of successful handling.

  1. While it’s truthful that most people amongst these symptoms do not have got colon cancer, it’s never prophylactic to assume that’s the case.

Frequent Symptoms of Colon Cancer

At phase 1, colon cancer ordinarily has no symptoms. This is why regular screening first at age 45 (as well as before for those alongside risk factors) is an important investment inwards your wellness.

The symptoms mentioned below by no agency dot directly to colon cancer. In fact, they could indicatesome other problem in the bowels, such every bit an infection (for illustration, acuate diverticulitis), ulcers, or inflammation (for illustration, Crohn’sillness). This is why seeing your healthcare provider is critical.

Colon cancer symptoms come up inward 2 full general varieties: local symptoms (based on where the tumor is located) in addition to systemic symptoms (involving the whole torso).

Local Symptoms

Local colon cancer symptomsbear upon your bathroom habits together with the colon itself. These symptoms can include:

    • Changes inward your bowel habits: There is no such matter every bit a universally “normal” bowel motility. In fact, your healthcare provider really only cares virtually what is normal for you lot. The size, colour, as well as consistency of everyone’s stools are unique. Therefore, it is of import to notice whatever modify inwards your normalpatterns. This is often ane of the firstly symptoms of colon cancer.
    • Abdominal discomfort: Abdominal pain or cramping may occur in those who hold colon cancer. Colon cancer hurting is ordinarily felt inward the abdomen, but its exact location tin can vary. Most people depict it as a deadening cramping sensation.
    • Intermittent (alternating) constipation too diarrhea: Symptoms of alternating diarrhea too constipation may occur when in that location is a partial obstaclein the bowel due to a tumor. Constipation may occur due to difficulty in stool passing the obstruction, followed by diarrhea when backed-up contents are then passed.
    • Gas together with bloating: Excessive gas too bloating can be a sign of colon cancer. However, dietary triggers (for example, carbonated beverages, dairy products, together with high-fiber foods) together with digestive disorders (for instance,inflammatory bowel disease) are mutual culprits.


  • Nausea as well as/or vomiting: When nausea and vomiting are symptoms of colon cancer, it’s ordinarily because a tumor is causing a bowel obstacle.

If gas too bloating are related tocolon cancer, they tend to be late symptoms caused past an obstructing tumor inwards the colon. Bloating may also occur every bit a resultant of cancer spreading to nearby lymph nodes.

If nausea as well as vomiting are accompanied by other worrisome signs—such every bit constipation, abdominal cramping, too/or abdominal distension—colon cancer could live a movement.

Nausea as well as vomiting may occur at whatsoever phase of colon cancer but are more common alongside advanced affliction. It’s of import to recall that the occurrence of nausea and vomiting lonely, without other colon cancer symptoms, is non probable an indication of cancer.

The nature of a bowel movement change can live described inward the next ways:

    • Change in stool frequency: A persistent modify (more than a few days) in stool frequency is one potential sign of colon cancer. For instance, if it is normal for yous to have iii bowel movements per twenty-four hour period, together with you are having only i per twenty-four hour period, or ane everyother twenty-four hour period, this may signal constipation. On the other paw, if your typical pattern is to have a bowel motion every other mean solar day too you’re having i bowel motility per 24-hour interval, it may be unusually frequent as well as could signal a alter.
    • Change inward stool shape: Thin or narrow stools, frequently described as ribbon- or pencil-similar, may also be a sign of colon cancer. In an otherwise salubrious person, sparse stools may live caused by a narrowing of the colon—also called a partialblockage of the colon due to colon cancer.
    • Changes inward stool color: Bleeding in the colon due to colon cancer may resultant in brilliant cherry-red or night reddish blood in the stools. More specifically, if bleeding is inwards the ascending (right-side) colon, the stools may live more than maroon or royal in color since the bleeding is occurring farther away from the rectum. If the tumor is in the descending (left-side) colon, the haemorrhage tends to result inwards brilliant ruby stools(the passage of fresh, carmine blood is called hematochezia). Blood in the stool is ever a reason to see a healthcare provider, since it may live 1 of the firstly symptoms of colon cancer.


  • Difficulty amongst stool evacuation: A persistent feeling that you demand to hold a bowel move, even when yous simply had i (calledtenesmus), may be a symptom of colon cancer.

Systemic Symptoms

Systemic colon cancer symptoms are those that affect your whole body. These symptoms may include:

  • Unintentionalweight loss: If you lot lose weight without trying, it is an important symptom that shouldn’t live ignored. Colon cancer is only 1 of several serious weather that mightiness first off present themselves alongside unexplained weight loss. The ground behind unintentional weight loss with cancer isthat tumors employment the trunk’s blood in addition to nutrients to thrive too grow. In add-on, some tumors free chemicals that increment the torso’s metabolism, which can further lead to unexplained weight loss.

Unexplained weight loss is described equally losing 10 or more pounds or at to the lowest degree v% of your trunk weight over a six- to 12-month flow. For representative, if yousare a 150-pound somebody who lost vii.five pounds inward a twelvemonth for no apparent argue, you should contact your healthcare provider.

  • Loss of appetite: Unusual loss of appetite is some other sign to expect out for. While the loss of appetite is most commonly a phase 4 colon cancer symptom, it has been noted in some people with early colon cancer.
  • Unexplained fatigue: Extreme tiredness is a nonspecific symptom, but is very commonin people alongside more advanced cancers such equally phase 4 colon cancer. Cancer fatigue differs from “ordinary” fatigue in that it’s non usually relieved by balance or counteracted past a goodness cup of java.
  • Feeling “off”: It’s non uncommon for people to have got a sense that something is amiss inwards theirbody, fifty-fifty if they don’t have specific symptoms to dorsum up that feeling. Trust your intuition. If yous are concerned that something is wrong, make an date to verbalize alongside your healthcare provider.

Rare Symptoms

Stage 4 colon cancer symptoms may include:

  • Fever: If a tumor inwards the colon breaks through the intestines, anabscess may class, which causes a fever.
  • Air bubbles inwards urine: Air bubbles inwards your urine (called pneumaturia) may occur if a tumor inwards the colon invades into the bladder.
  • Problems breathing: If the colon cancer has spread to the lungs, shortness of breath, coughing, in addition to/or breast hurting may occur.
  • Headache as well as neurological problems: If the colon cancer spreads to the encephalon or spinal cord, headache,vision changes, confusion, too/or seizures may occur.
  • Bone hurting: Fractures, os hurting, together with high calcium levels (seen on a blood examine) may occur if cancer spreads to the bones.

Symptoms of Colon Cancer inward Women

Colon cancer symptoms inwards women are the same equally those experienced past men. However, women tin sometimes dismiss symptoms similar abdominal cramping together with bloating because they tin canexperience similar to menstrual symptoms.


Complications of colon cancer may include:

  • Iron deficiency anemia: Due to microscopic haemorrhage from a tumor, atomic number 26 deficiency anemia may occur every bit the foremost sign of colon cancer. Anemia is diagnosed amongst a blood prove, called aconsummate blood count (CBC), in addition to may crusade symptoms of unusual tiredness, dizziness, palpitations, in addition to shortness of breath.
  • Jaundice: Another potential complication of colon cancer is jaundice, a status in which the skin together with whites of the eyes have on a yellowish appearance. Jaundice mayoccur when colon cancer spreads to the liver, a mutual site of metastasis. It may also occur due to pressure from a colon cancer on of import structures related to the liver.
  • Bowel obstacle: A bowel obstruction from colon canceragency that the tumor is physically blocking the intestines. Depending on the severity of the blockage, solids, liquids, too even gas may be prevented from passing through the colon. This can Pb to painful breadbasket cramps, bloating, constipation, and sometimes nausea too/or vomiting.

While a nasogastric subway may be placed temporarily to trim back swelling together with take away the fluid in addition to gas buildup of a bowel obstacle, surgical operation to withdraw theobstructing tumor or a stent placement (to open upwardly the blocked expanse) is often required.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

While many people have got heard that having blood inwards their stools may live a sign of colon cancer, just near whatever modify inwards your bowel habits is worth evaluating. While you may live anxious nigh the possibility of having colon cancer, early diagnosis offers you lot the bestopportunity for successful handling. In many cases, something else exclusively is going on—something less serious than cancer.

Colon Cancer Healthcare Provider Discussion Guide

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes colon cancer?

    Colon cancer is believed to be caused by specific genetic mutations that “plow off” tumorsuppressor genes that regulate cell death in addition to “plow on” oncogenes that promote jail cell growth and go on cells live. These mechanisms together tin can crusade cells in the colon to split up out of control as well as course tumors. The mutations may live inherited or acquired.

  • What are the risk factors for colon cancer?

    Certain risk factors are believed to play a use inwards acquired mutations for colon cancer, including:

    • Being overweight or obese
    • Living a sedentary lifestyle
    • Eating a diet high inward reddish meats in addition to processed meats
    • Smoking
    • Moderate to heavy alcohol utilisation
    • Having inflammatory bowel affliction (IBD)
  • What are the early on signs of colon cancer?

    Colon cancer is oft asymptomatic inwards the early on stage, particularly if the tumor is above inwards the colon. When early on symptoms do train, they frequentlyinclude:

    • A persistent modify inwards bowel habits, including diarrhea in addition to constipation (oftentimes alternating)
    • Changes inwards stool consistency
    • Rectal haemorrhage
    • Blood in stools
    • Abdominal cramps, gas, or hurting
    • A feeling that your bowelsaren’t empty even afterward a motion (rectal tenesmus)
  • What do stools expect similar if you lot have colon cancer?

    Because colon cancer tin can crusade the narrowing of the intestinal tract, thin, pencil-similar stools are common. The tumor tin can also drive haemorrhage, leading to stools that range in color from a dark cerise or maroon to a tar-similar dark.

  • Howis colon cancer diagnosed?

    If your healthcare provider suspects yous may hold colon cancer based on symptoms as well as tests results (including the fecal occult blood prove), acolonoscopy will live ordered to look inside the colon. During the process, a biopsy of abnormal polyps or tissues volition be obtained together with sent to thelab for evaluation.

  • How fast does colon cancer grow?

    Colon cancer typically starts from a cluster of benign cells called an adenomatous polyp. While most of these polyps won’t go malignant (cancerous), some can tardily plough into cancer within 10 to 15 years. Other types of colon cancer are more than aggressive in addition to may progress more chop-chop.

  • How mutual is colon cancer?

    Colon cancer is the quaternary most mutual cancer as well as the moment leading campaign of cancer-related deaths inward the United States of America. Nearly 150,000 people acquire colon cancer each twelvemonth, spell over 50,000 go of the illness annually.

  • Can you lot foreclose colon cancer?

    Unlike some cancers, in that location are steps you can take to trim downyour risk of getting colon cancer, including:

    • Limiting your intake of red meat together with processed meats
    • Avoiding high-temperature frying, broiling, or grilling of meat, which creates carcinogens
    • Losing weight if overweight or obese
    • Limiting your alcohol intake
    • Quitting cigarettes

Verywell Health uses only high-character sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more nearly how we fact-bank check as well as keep our content accurate, reliable, as well as trustworthy.

  1. Centers for Disease Control too Prevention. What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?
  2. Walter FM, Emery JD, Mendonca south, etal. Symptoms too patient factors associated alongside longer fourth dimension to diagnosis for colorectal cancer: results from a prospective cohort study. Br J Cancer. 2016;115(5):533-541. doi:10.1038/bjc.2016.221
  3. Shaukat A, Kahi CJ, Burke CA, Rabenecs L, Sauer BG, Rex DK.ACG clinical guidelines: colorectal cancer screening 2021. Am J Gastroenterol. 2021;116(3):458-479. doi:10.14309/ajg.0000000000001122
  4. Cleveland Clinic.Gastrointestinal diseases.
  5. Cleveland Clinic. Colorectal(colon) cancer.
  6. Cleveland Clinic. Large bowel (intestinal) obstacle.
  7. Johns Hopkins Medicine.Colon cancer symptoms.
  8. Cleveland Clinic. Unexplained weightloss.
  9. National Cancer Institute. Metastatic cancer.
  10. Cleveland Clinic.Detecting cancer: colorectal cancer pearls for chief attention physicians.
  11. Nguyen HT, Nguyen HT.The molecular characteristics of colorectal cancer: implications for diagnosis in addition to therapy (review). Oncol Letters. 2018:16:9-eighteen. doi:10.3892/ol.2018.8679
  12. American Cancer Society.Colorectal cancer risk factors.
  13. Recio-Boiles A, Cagir B. Colon cancer. In: StatPearls[net].
  14. Flytkjær Jensen L, Hvidberg L, Fischer Pedersen A, Vedsted P. Symptom attributions inwards patients with colorectal cancer. BMC Fam Pract. 2015;sixteen:115. doi:10.1186/s12875-015-0315-9
  15. Kulpers EJ, Grady WM, Lieberman D, et al.Colorectal cancer. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2015;1:15065. doi:10.1038/nrdp.2015.65
  16. National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, too End Results Program.Cancer stat facts: colorectal cancer.

Additional Reading

  • American Cancer Society. What is Colorectal Cancer?.
  • Del Giudice ME, Vella ET, Hey A, Simunovic G, Harris W, Levitt C. Systematic review of clinicalfeatures of suspected colorectal cancer inwards chief attention. Can Fam Physician. 2014;threescore(8):e405-fifteen. https://www.cfp.ca/content/threescore/8/e405.long.
  • John SK, George south, Primrose JN, Fozard JB. Symptoms in addition to signs inwards patients alongside colorectal cancer. Colorectal Dis. 2011 January;13(1):17-25.doi:10.1111/j.1463-1318.2010.02221.x
  • Lacy BE, Mearin F, Chang L, et al. Bowel disorders. Gastroenterology. 2016;150(6):1393-1407.e5. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2016.02.031
  • Libutti S, Salz L, Willett C, in addition to Levine R. Chapter 57: Cancer of the colon. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA,eds. DeVita, Hellman, in addition to Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles in addition to Practice of Oncology. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.
  • National Cancer Institute. Gastrointestinal complications – patient version.
  • National Cancer Institute.Colon cancer handling (PDQ)—health professional person version.

By Suzanne Dixon, MPH, RD
Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RDN, is an accolade-winning registered dietitian as well as epidemiologist, every bit wellevery bit an practiced inwards cancer prevention too direction.

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