The colon, or large intestine, is a long, hollow tube at the end of the digestive tract which is located in the abdomen. It acts as a waste processor, taking digested food in the form of solid waste and pushing it out of the body through the rectum and anus.
The lining of the colon is a prime location for the development and growth of small polyps or tumors. Polyps are often benign, or non-cancerous. However, the colon can also contain malignant, or cancerous tumors.
Colon cancer can occur in men or women and is most often found in people over the age of 50. Symptoms of colon cancer may include persistent constipation or diarrhea, blood in the stool, and unexplained fatigue or weight loss. Colon cancer is often discussed together with rectal cancer, and together they are referred to as "colorectal cancer."
As with most cancers, early detection is key. Regular screening tests should be done on patients who may be at increased risk, including people over the age of 50 or who have a family history of colon cancer.
Colon Cancer Signs & Symptoms
The following are the most common symptoms of colorectal cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.
People who have any of the following symptoms should check with their physicians, especially if they are over 50 years old or have a personal or family history of the disease:
A change in bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days
Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
Cramping or gnawing stomach pain
Weakness and fatigue
Jaundice - yellowing of the skin and eyes
The symptoms of colorectal cancer may resemble other conditions, such as infections, hemorrhoids, and inflammatory bowel disease. It is also possible to have colon cancer and not have any symptoms. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
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