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Colorectal Cancer Signs, Symptoms, and Types

If you’re experiencing symptoms that concern you, give us a call to schedule an appointment. No matter what, Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center’s health care professionals are here to support you at every step.

Many patients do not experience any symptoms of colorectal cancer in its early stages. The most common sign of colon cancer is a polyp, a small non-cancerous growth on the colon wall that can become cancerous. As a polyp grows, it may bleed or block the intestine. With bleeding, you may notice blood in your stool and a blood test may show you have a low red blood cell count.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?

The symptoms below can happen at any stage of colorectal cancer – early, late or even end-stage. While colorectal cancer is found slightly more often in men than women, the symptoms are the same.

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in the stool or toilet
  • Diarrhea or constipation that lasts for more than a few days
  • A change in size or shape of your stool
  • Abdominal (belly) pain or a cramping pain in your lower stomach
  • A feeling of discomfort, pressure or urge to have a bowel movement (poop) when there is no need
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Weight loss

When Should I See My Doctor?

Many of these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than colorectal cancer, such as infection, hemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Still, if you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it’s important you talk to your doctor so the cause can be found and treated.

What Are the Different Types of Colorectal Cancer?

Most colorectal cancers are adenocarcinoma, cancer on the lining of the colon. Adenocarcinomas typically start as tissue growth called a polyp. Polyps can be removed during a routine colonoscopy before they become cancerous.

Less common types of cancers that begin in the colon or rectum include:

  • Neuroendocrine tumor of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST)
  • Carcinoid tumors
  • Lymphoma
  • Leiomyosarcomas
  • Melanomas

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