backup og meta

Colon Cancer Symptoms: What Should You Look Out For?

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Mar 18, 2023

    Colon Cancer Symptoms: What Should You Look Out For?

    What are colon cancer symptoms? In its early stages, colon cancer is typically asymptomatic. This means it shows no outward symptoms. During this period, cancer has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or to other parts of the body.

    What Are Common Colon Cancer Symptoms?

    In its advanced stages, these are the symptoms one can expect:

    • Bowel habits are not the same as before. You could have persistent diarrhea or recurrent constipation. These changes could last for several weeks.
    • If you typically have regular daily bowel movements, you might notice that the frequency has changed or that your stools have gotten narrower/ thinner.
    • You can’t get your bowels to move. You may experience the urge to urinate frequently, in addition to constipation and other bowel disturbances, but never feel as though you’ve fully emptied your bowels.
    • Bleeding from the rectum can occasionally be a symptom of severe constipation or hemorrhoids, but it can also be an indication of a more serious problem like colorectal cancer. If this is the case, you can notice that your stool is light or dark red in color or that it seems tarry due to dark blood. After wiping, you might also notice blood on the toilet paper.

    Colon Cancer Symptoms Per Stage

    Stage 3

    When cancer has moved to the lymph nodes but not to other parts of the body, this means you are at stage 3 colon cancer. Below are some common stage 3 colon cancer symptoms:

    • Excessive fatigue and unexplained weakness. Despite getting enough sleep and not currently experiencing any stressful life events, you could feel exhausted all the time.
    • Unintentional weight loss. Weight loss may also be related to how other symptoms, including nausea, diarrhea, or abdominal pain, affect your appetite.
    • Changes in your stool that lasts longer than a month
    • A feeling that your bowels won’t completely empty
    • Nausea and vomiting. The obstruction of bowel movements when cancer cells spread can cause nausea and vomiting.

    Stage 4

    What are stage 4 colon cancer symptoms? Stage 4 is when cancer has spread to other distant organs, such as the livers or lungs. You may experience the following:

    • Jaundice, or yellow eyes and skin. Usually, intrahepatic metastases cause jaundice in colon cancer patients. It may occasionally be brought on by extrahepatic blockage brought on by metastatic lymph nodes. Solitary bile duct metastasis imitating cholangiocarcinoma is a less common reason for jaundice in these patients.
    • Swelling in the hands or feet. This is a sign that cancer has moved along to affect the liver.
    • Breathing difficulties. If the lungs are affected, symptoms may include shortness of breath. But it’s important to note shortness of breath might not be anything serious.
    • Chronic headaches. If the brain and/or spinal cord are affected, symptoms may include pain, confusion, memory loss, headache, blurred or double vision, difficulty speaking, and/or seizures.
    • Blurry vision. Symptoms affecting the vision are uncommon manifestations of colon cancer.
    • Bone fractures. It is well known that colorectal cancer does not frequently metastasize to the bone/s. Some of these signs include bone pain, weakness, numbness, difficulty urinating, nausea, thirst, constipation, fatigue, confusion, and general discomfort for extended periods of time.

    What to Do if You Experience Colon Cancer Symptoms?

    Overall, colorectal cancer is one of the most treatable types of cancer and is highly preventable if caught early. If everyone who is qualified for a colonoscopy underwent the screening, up to 85% of colorectal malignancies may be avoided or effectively treated.

    Regular colon cancer screenings can help detect polyps early, and your doctor might be able to remove them during a colonoscopy.

    Consult a doctor if you’re feeling any of the aforementioned symptoms or have any other concerns about the health of your colon. It’s also possible that your symptoms are being caused by something else if your doctor rules out colon cancer. They may be due to:

    • Hemorrhoids
    • Inflammation of the colon (IBD)
    • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)
    • Screening recommendations for colon cancer

    If your signs and symptoms indicate that you could have colon cancer, your doctor may recommend one or more tests and procedures, including using a scope to examine the inside of your colon (colonoscopy) and other blood tests.

    Learn more about Colorectal Cancer here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Mar 18, 2023

    advertisement iconadvertisement

    Was this article helpful?

    advertisement iconadvertisement
    advertisement iconadvertisement