Colon cancer (colorectal cancer) develops from noncancerous polyps in the large intestine, which slowly grow into cancer.
Regular cancer screenings can help detect colon cancer in its early stages, when it is most easily treated. Dignity Health North State offers screening options for colon cancer symptoms in Northern California. Find a Doctor today.
Colon Cancer Signs
In the early stages of colon cancer there are often no signs or symptoms. Screening tests, including colonoscopy, are used to find cancer before symptoms develop.
When signs and symptoms of colon cancer do occur, they may include:
- Rectal bleeding
- Very dark or bloody stool
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
- Anemia, or low red blood cell count
- Feeling of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement
- Weakness or tiredness
- Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation, diarrhea, narrowing of the stool, or changes in consistency
Keep in mind that other conditions share similar symptoms, such as hemorrhoids. It’s important to see your doctor for the right diagnosis.
Diagnosing Colon Cancer at Dignity Health North State
Screening tests are an important tool to prevent colon cancer or catch it early. Colonoscopy is a common screening tool, but other options are available. Talk with your doctor about when you should start screening and what your options are.
In order to diagnose colon cancer once symptoms begin, your doctor will use the following:
- Blood tests, including tumor markers and a complete blood count (CBC)
- Physical exam and medical history
- Imaging exams including MRI scan, CT scan, ultrasound, and PET scan
- Colonoscopy, to collect a tissue sample (biopsy). Your doctor may also completely remove polyps during this procedure.
In order for your doctor to plan the most effective treatment strategy for you, a complete diagnosis is necessary. This includes staging information, which signifies the extent of cancer in your body. You can trust the expert oncologists at Dignity Health North State to provide complete cancer care that puts your needs first.