Men are notorious for not going to the doctor, whether it is for a routine physical, a sick visit or a screening. However, when it comes to colon cancer, a visit to the doctor could be the best decision you ever make. According to Livescience, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 51,783 Americans died from colon cancer in 2011, which makes colon cancer the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Screening tests like a colonoscopy may not sound pleasant, but they can offer the best view of the colon to determine whether you have a colon polyp which could develop into colon cancer.
Even though colon cancer is often accompanied by no symptoms at all, there are several warning signs that you should recognize (Source: Newsmax). If you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment right away with your doctor to be examined:
- Changes in bowel habits—Long, pencil-like stools could indicate a bowel obstruction. Thin stools that are recurrent could mean that there is a problem.
- Blood in the stool—Stools can be red, purple, maroon or black and tarry in appearance. Do not assume that blood is from hemorrhoids.
- Cramps and bloating—Occasional cramps or bloating associated with gas is common, but persistent abdominal pain needs to be analyzed by your doctor.
- Diarrhea or constipation—These are opposite problems, but the both can be a symptom of colon cancer if they are both happening frequently.
- Feeling like your bowel is not empty—A blockage can make you feel like you have not fully eliminated your bowel.
- Fatigue—Cancer cell growth can make you feel exhausted and run down, so tell your doctor if you feel a dramatic decrease in energy or endurance.
- Unexpected weight loss—The presence of a tumor may cause you to lose your appetite, which results in weight loss.
- Shortness of breath—Cancer slows the body down, making you feel excessively weak and out of breath.
If something doesn’t seem right, you should at least put in a call to your doctor. Don’t try to diagnose your condition on the internet or ask friends what they would do in your situation. Consult your doctor and be willing to make an appointment if necessary. It will mean peace of mind--or early intervention.