What Are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?

Most colon cancers don’t have any symptoms at all, especially when they are in the early stages. They are only diagnosed when people have screening tests, like a colonoscopy. Then doctors can take tissue samples to see if the cells are cancerous and what stage they are in. The stages of cancer help them decide what treatment is best.

There are several types of screening tests you can have for colon cancer. These include blood tests and an imaging test, like a CT scan. These tests check for any signs of colon cancer, such as blood in your stool or a change in your bowel habits.

When a doctor finds a suspected tumor, they might do a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. This involves taking a sample of the tissue and looking at it under a microscope to make sure they aren’t just normal colon cells. They might also do other testing to find out what stage the cancer is in and how it’s spreading.

Symptoms of colon cancer can be different for everyone. If you have a sign of colon cancer, it’s important to see your doctor right away. This can help prevent the cancer from getting worse.

What is the stage of my colon cancer?

The stage of your colon cancer helps determine what treatment is best. It lets the doctors know how far the cancer has spread and how serious it is. Stage I: Colon cancer stays in the colon or rectum and hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes or other organs. Stage II: The colon cancer has spread to the first layer of the colon wall or rectum and hasn’t reached the second or third layer.

Stage III: The cancer has spread to one or more distant organs and/or lymph nodes but hasn’t reached the liver or lungs.

To treat this stage of colon cancer, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the part of the colon that has a tumor. They might also do other surgeries to remove areas of cancer that have spread. They might also give you chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells and help your body heal.

If the cancer is in a polyp, your doctor might remove it during a colonoscopy without cutting through your abdominal wall. This is called a local excision.

For cancers that aren’t in a polyp, your doctor might do a partial colon resection surgery. Surgeons remove the section of the colon that has a tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue. They then connect the colon sections with a procedure called anastomosis.

For some advanced colon cancers, neoadjuvant chemotherapy given along with radiation (also known as chemoradiation) might be recommended. This can help shrink the cancer so it’s easier to remove with surgery. They might also use radiofrequency ablation, a procedure that uses heat to destroy cancer cells. These treatments can be done before or after surgery.