Colorectal Cancer: When should one seek medical advice?

By  , Expert Content
Aug 27, 2012

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Colorectal cancer is more common in older people especially those older than 60 years. Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer are subtle in the initial stages.  If it is diagnosed in early stages, response to treatment/s is better and in stages I, II and III, the cancer can be cured completely.

Consult your doctor if you have any/all of the following symptoms that are suggestive of any significant medical problem:

  • Change in bowel movements-any change in the bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool that persists for more than a few days or is bothersome, can be a sign of colorectal cancer.
  • Feeling of incomplete bowel movements---mass in the rectum may give a sensation that the stool is not completely evacuated after a bowel movement.
  • Bleeding from the rectum or blood in stool-in many cases, it may be caused due to common problems such as hemorrhoids or constipation, but do not assume that you have hemorrhoids. If you have rectal bleeding, you should get yourself examined by a doctor..
  • Persistent abdominal pain.
  • Loss of appetite and unintended weight loss.
  • Intense fatigue or abnormally low energy
  • Anemia-it may be caused as a result of occult blood loss from the digestive tract because of colorectal cancer.

These are a few symptoms that  may occur in a person with colorectal cancer but it does not mean that you definitely have cancer. Similar symptoms may be due to other causes but it is advisable to confirm the diagnosis than ignore the symptoms. Prognosis of colorectal cancer is better when diagnosed in early stages (stage I, II and III).

When to consult if you have been treated for colorectal cancer

If you are a colorectal cancer survivor regular follow-up examinations after treatment are recommended. These follow ups can detect recurrence (in case the cancer comes back) at an earlier stage. If necessary, your doctor will recommend tests to diagnose the recurrence of cancer.  Furthermore, regular follow-ups also give you a chance to discuss other changes in health. Other symptoms that may surface in-between the follow-up appointments are:

  • Blood in stool
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Weight loss



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