More than 50,000 new cases of colon cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. It typically begins in the large intestine as small, noncancerous clumps of cells or polyps. Over time (if left undiagnosed and untreated), these polyps can become cancerous. Though the exact cause of colon cancer is unknown, those with a family history of the disease or who smoke or drink heavily have a high risk of developing the disease.
Colon cancer is the second-most deadly form of cancer after lung cancer—but the good news is it’s one of the easiest to detect and very curable as long as it’s diagnosed and treated early.
The importance of early detection
Colon cancer is the second-most deadly form of cancer after lung cancer—but the good news is it’s one of the easiest to detect and very curable as long as it’s diagnosed and treated early. Adults with an average risk of developing colon cancer should have a baseline colonoscopy at age 50 and—if the results come back normal—a follow-up colonoscopy every 10 years thereafter. A colonoscopy is a preventive endoscopic examination of the rectum and lower bowel that looks for abnormalities and disease.
Common signs of colon cancer in men
The digestive system is complex, making colon cancer difficult to detect. That’s why it’s vital to attend regular colon cancer screenings to protect your health. The most common signs of colon cancer in men include:
- Changes in bowel habits
Persistent upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea or very narrow, thin bowels that last for more than a few days may be the sign of an underlying health issue.
- Cramps and bloating
Frequent or unexplained cramps and bloating can be a sign of colon cancer, though they could be the result of other health issues as well.
- Feeling unable to fully empty bowels
Growths and polyps could lead to a blockage in your colon and leave you feeling unable to fully empty your bowels.
- Blood in the stool
Blood in the stool may be a sign of hemorrhoids, however anytime you notice streaks of fresh blood or stool that is dark or tarry in appearance, it’s important to seek medical attention, as it could be a sign of colon cancer.
- Unexplained weight loss
Unexplained weight loss is a sign of several types of cancer and is the result of cancerous cells consuming more of the body’s energy.
- Persistent fatigue
Chronic fatigue is a common symptom of underlying health issues. Anyone experiencing fatigue that does not go away with rest should see a doctor.
- Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath is a common symptom for those struggling with cancer because the cancerous cells begin to drain energy from the body.
If you need to schedule a baseline or follow-up colonoscopy or would like to learn more about the signs of colon cancer in men, call Regional Cancer Care Associates Central Jersey at 732-724-1746.