Know the Signs and Symptoms of Bowel Cancer
April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign that aims to raise awareness about the third most common cancer worldwide. According to the American Cancer Society, bowel cancer affects more than 100,000 people in the United States each year. However, early detection and treatment can improve the chances of successful outcomes. Therefore, it is essential to know the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer.
What is Bowel Cancer?
Bowel cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the large intestine. Depending on where it starts, bowel cancer may be called colon or colorectal cancer. The colon and rectum are parts of the large intestine, which is responsible for absorbing water and salt from undigested food, and eliminating waste from the body.
The cancer develops when the cells in the colon or rectum grow uncontrollably, forming a tumor. If left untreated, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs.
Signs and Symptoms of Bowel Cancer
Bowel cancer may not cause any symptoms in the early stages, which is why regular screening is essential for early detection. However, some signs and symptoms may indicate the presence of bowel cancer, including:
- Changes in bowel habits: If you experience persistent changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation, or a change in the consistency of your stool, it could be a sign of bowel cancer.
- Blood in the stool: If you notice blood in your stool or on the toilet paper, it could be a sign of bowel cancer. However, not all cases of blood in the stool indicate cancer, but it is essential to consult a doctor if you notice blood.
- Abdominal pain: If you experience persistent abdominal pain, discomfort, or bloating, it could be a sign of bowel cancer. The pain may be intermittent or constant and may worsen over time.
- Unexplained weight loss: If you experience unexplained weight loss, fatigue, or weakness, it could be a sign of bowel cancer. Cancer cells consume a lot of energy, which can cause weight loss and fatigue.
- Anemia: If you have anemia, which is a condition where your blood lacks enough red blood cells, it could be a sign of bowel cancer. Anemia can cause fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is essential to consult a doctor immediately. A doctor may recommend further tests, such as a colonoscopy, to diagnose bowel cancer.
Prevention and Treatment
Bowel cancer is treatable if detected early. Risk reduction measures include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol.
Screening tests are essential for detecting bowel cancer early. The American Cancer Society recommends that individuals at average risk for bowel cancer should begin screening at age 45. Those with a family history of bowel cancer or other risk factors may need to start screening earlier.
If detected early, bowel cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. Premier Surgical Associates offers advanced surgical and cancer care treatments for patients with bowel cancer.
Don’t wait until it’s too late
Bowel cancer is a serious condition that can affect anyone. Therefore, it is essential to know the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer and undergo regular screening to detect it early. The board-certified physicians of Premier Surgical Associates in Knoxville, Cleveland, and Johnson City, TN, provide comprehensive cancer care to patients in East Tennessee, including surgical oncology and colon and rectal cancer surgery and treatments.
If you are facing bowel cancer, contact Premier Surgical Associates to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified surgeons. Don’t wait until it’s too late – early detection and treatment can save lives.