The rectum is a small segment of your large intestine connected to the anus. Since the rectum is a part of your intestines, or colon, colon cancer and rectal cancer are generally referred to together as “colorectal cancer.”
Although many cases of rectal cancer are diagnosed without the patient experiencing any symptoms at all, there are a few symptoms you should be aware of. If you notice any of these indicators, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor!
- Change in bowel habits or fecal incontinence. This includes everything from diarrhea to constipation, as well as a change in stool shape, or a change in bowel movement frequency. Everyone experiences some of these things occasionally, but when these symptoms last for more than a few days, you should pay attention!
- Watch out for either bright red rectal bleeding or the appearance of a dark stool, which could indicate the presence of blood.
- Stomach pain and/or cramping, or painful bowel movements, could also be an early symptom of rectal cancer.
- Fatigue and weakness. If you’re feeling weaker than normal or become tired easily, it’s important to get checked out; something could be wrong.
- Unintentional weight loss. Losing weight when you aren’t trying can indicate a larger problem.
- Feeling like you need to have a bowel movement that isn’t relieved by doing so. If you notice that you still feel like you have to “go” after you’ve had a bowel movement, it could be caused by a tumor putting pressure on your rectum.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that you
“[m]ake an appointment with your doctor if you have symptoms suggesting rectal cancer, particularly blood in your stool or unexplained weight loss.”
A gastroenterologist can help figure out if something is wrong and work with you to develop a treatment plan.
The American Cancer Society offers the following facts:
“More than 95% of colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas. Approximately 90% of colorectal adenocarcinomas began as adenomas, which are a type of polyp that may become cancer.”
These polyps can take 10 or 15 years to become cancerous, which means that if you schedule a routine screening colonoscopy with a board certified gastroenterologist, they can remove that polyp during your procedure before it has a chance to turn into cancer. That’s right; a colonoscopy is the only cancer screening method that both detects and prevents cancer! Schedule your appointment today!