Diagnosing Colon Cancer

Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Most people who develop colon cancer do not have symptoms of this disease. This is because early stage colon cancers generally do not cause any symptoms. Someone who receives a late stage colon cancer diagnosis may have experienced one or more symptoms associated with that disease.
 

Any of the following symptoms should be checked out by your doctor:

  • Change in bowel habits
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
  • Bright red or very dark blood in the stool
  • Narrow stools
  • Gas pains, bloating, fullness and cramps
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Vomiting

Colonoscopy and Biopsy
If you have any of the signs or symptoms listed above, a colonoscopy is a good option because your doctor can examine the entire length of your colon with a scope and camera. This can also be used to remove any polyps found or to perform a biopsy on an area that is suspicious for cancer.

A biopsy is the removal and examination of tissue, cells or fluid from the body, in the case of colon cancer it is the removal of these from your colon.  No colon cancer diagnosis is final until the tissue sample from your colon is analyzed in a laboratory and found to contain cancer cells.

If the laboratory analysis (pathology) confirms the presence of cancer the next step would be to determine the stage, which would then determine your treatment options.