Early Signs of Colon Cancer

The large intestine is also known as the colon. The colon is part of the digestive system that leads to the rectum. The Mayo Clinic reports that cancer in the colon typically starts as polyps that are at first benign. As these polyps persist, they may develop into cancer. Polyps sometimes are removed when they are benign to avoid this process. This is accomplished when problems are found because of doctor-administered tests.

Bowel Changes

The most common sign that you may be developing cancer of the colon is changes in the way you defecate. For example, if you have loose, watery stools–diarrhea–consistently for more than two weeks, it is not normal. Diarrhea, in most people, can last as long as a cold or flu does, or for a few days without these common illnesses. Longer bouts of diarrhea may indicate colon cancer is present. The same is true for constipation. When it persists for more than two weeks, it is indicative of potential problems. The Mayo Clinic states that any noticeable change in your stools’ consistency for a long period also may be symptoms of the disease. These symptoms do not automatically mean you have colon cancer, but they indicate it is time for aid and testing from your physician.


Early signs of colon cancer can include bleeding from your rectum or blood contained in your stools. This also may occur for reasons other than colon cancer, including as side effects of medications. If it persists, ask your physician about it.


Often feeling discomfort in your abdominal region also may be an early sign of the disease. You may experience pain in the area or cramps, which are muscle spasms. You also may feel an excess of gas that persists. Another form of discomfort may be that no matter how many times you defecate, you cannot seem to fully empty your bowels.

Fatigue and Weight Loss

A general feeling of weakness throughout your body may be another sign of colon cancer. This fatigue, which often happens when you have exerted yourself, may occur even when you are resting. You also may notice you are losing weight without dieting and while eating your normal intake amount.

About this Author

Carole Anne Tomlinson has been a registered nurse working in a variety of medical environments for more than 25 years. She now serves as the nursing supervisor for a chemical dependency facility. She has also written numerous articles for a variety of websites.