Early Signs of Colon Cancer in Men

Many men are concerned about their cancer risk, and how to reduce it. In the case of colon cancer, this concern is certainly warranted: early detection of colon cancer is associated with increased survival outcomes. Some of these symptoms could be indicative of other problems. Without proper screening, there is no way to know for certain. For this reason, it is essential for your continued health and wellness to tell your doctor as soon as possible should any signs or symptoms arise.

Share this article with the men in your life whose cancer risk or colon health you are concerned about. A small effort at prevention and detection of symptoms now can save immeasurable suffering in the future.

The following symptoms may be warning signs of colorectal cancer in the male population.

Sudden Diarrhea, Constipation, or Changes in Stool Shape and Color

Most people are familiar with their normal bowel patterns and habits. If you are suddenly experiencing loose stool or constipation unrelated to your diet, and these symptoms are lasting more than a couple of days, this could be cause for concern.

If your stool changes from its regular shape, this is also something you should discuss with your doctor. In some colorectal cancers, the stool takes a narrow or pencil-like shape. This is caused by the encroachment of tumor growth into the lumen of the intestine, forcing the stool to move around this obstacle in order to be passed.

The presentation of the stool will depend on where the cancer is located in the colon, both in terms of shape and color.

Note that changes in stool color can result from bleeding as well.

Colon cancers are often accompanied by bleeding in the affected area of the intestinal tract. This bleeding can present as frank red blood visible in the toilet or on the stool or may cause a slightly darker color of stool. In some cases, bleeding may be present but invisible, which is known as occult bleeding.

If you are experiencing bleeding with defecation or your stool appears darker in color than usual, these may be signs of colorectal cancer. However, because not all bleeding is visible to the naked eye, your healthcare provider may want to take a blood test or a stool sample to verify that bleeding is not taking place.

Keep in mind that many gastrointestinal illnesses manifest with symptoms that closely mimic those of colon cancer.

For example, frank red blood in the stool could be a warning sign of cancer, but is also the most common presentation of hemorrhoids, which is in most cases a mildly uncomfortable but benign condition. It is always important to mention any concerning symptoms to your doctor, who can provide information and reassurance, or order follow-up tests as needed.

Pain or Discomfort in the Abdomen

Many men with colon cancer report their first symptoms were related to pain or discomfort in the abdomen.

Often, this is a cramping sensation that many report feels like gas pain, and the sensation comes and goes, and that anti-flatulence medication or other methods of pain relief do not offer any reprieve.

If you are unable to pass gas or notice you have not had a bowel movement in more than three days, contact your doctor.

The receptors for pain and discomfort in your digestive tract do not sense pain as acutely, strongly, or as well-localized as those in other parts of the body. For this reason, be aware that even sensations that are not painful but more achy or dull in character should be reported to your doctor.

Generalized Weakness and Dizziness

Many men with a new cancer diagnosis report feeling generally weak and unwell before their diagnosis.

If you are feeling weak, you may also feel dizzy and unable to engage in your usual activities.

It is common for men with colon cancer to report increasing tiredness and fatigue that prevents them from completing functions at their job or as part of their home life. If you struggle to get out of bed in the morning more than you usually do or find yourself dozing off at your desk at work, it may be an important indicator that something is amiss.

What next?

Keep in mind that although these symptoms may result from colon cancer, they could also be related to irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, a gastrointestinal infection, or even normal bowel changes associated with age.

If you are experiencing any of these signs, make an appointment today to discuss them with your physician or healthcare provider as soon as possible.