What are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?
What are the alarm symptoms of colorectal cancer?
What are the alarm symptoms of colorectal cancer?
More possible symptoms of colorectal cancer
Testing for colon cancer: Colonoscopy
Screening tests for colon cancer
Home tests for colorectal cancer
Tests at the doctor’s office
Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy find and remove polyps early
Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy find and remove polyps early
When should I start colon cancer screening?
What puts me at risk for colon cancer?
Risk factors for colon cancer
Other risk factors for colon cancer
Risk factors for colon cancer: Certain diseases
Don’t wait for colon cancer symptoms
Colon cancer screening can save your life
What are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?

*This slide show represents a visual interpretation and is not intended to provide, nor substitute as, medical and/or clinical advice.

What are the alarm symptoms of colorectal cancer?

Colon cancer symptoms can be similar to the symptoms of many common conditions, such as indigestion, hemorrhoids, or irritable bowel syndrome.

What are the alarm symptoms of colorectal cancer?

Alarm symptoms include bloody or painful bowel movements, abdominal pain or cramps and changes in bowel movement shape.

More possible symptoms of colorectal cancer

You might also lose weight without trying, feel very tired, and have anemia, a low red blood cell count.

Talk to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms that do not go away in a few days.

Testing for colon cancer: Colonoscopy

If you have symptoms, your doctor can do a colonoscopy to check for cancer.

Remember, you need a regular screening colonoscopy to look for colon cancer – but you can also have one if you or your doctor suspect something is wrong.

Screening tests for colon cancer

Regular screening tests for colon cancer are important to catch it early.

A screening test checks for cancer in people who do not have symptoms.  

Colon cancer tests include home stool tests, a CT scan, a colonoscopy, or a sigmoidoscopy (a partial colonoscopy which examines the lower colon).

The home stool tests can look for early cancer. A colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy can both look for cancer and prevent it by removing polyps.

Home tests for colorectal cancer

A FIT test checks for hidden blood in bowel movements.

Another test checks your stool for cancer DNA, which shows if a tumor is present.

All these tests have you send samples of your bowel movements to a lab for testing.

Tests at the doctor’s office

The most common test recommended for detection of polyps or early cancer is a colonoscopy.

Your doctor will use a thin, flexible, lighted tube to check part or all of your colon.

Doctors consider colonoscopy to be the most effective screening test.

Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy find and remove polyps early

Your doctor can remove polyps during a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.

This can stop them from developing into cancer.

Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy find and remove polyps early

Doing this can prevent more than two thirds of colon cancers and one third of colon cancer deaths.

When should I start colon cancer screening?

Age 50 is the usual recommended time to start having a screening colonoscopy.

If you have high risk, such as colon cancer in your family, you might need to start sooner – sometimes much sooner.

Talk to your doctor about when to start, which screening tests you need, and how often.

What puts me at risk for colon cancer?

Men and women have a similar level of risk for colorectal cancer.

While most people are over 50 when colon cancer develops, today doctors are finding more cancers in younger people.

Risk factors for colon cancer

The main risk factors for colon cancer are having colon polyps or having family members who had colon cancer, certain other cancers, or colon polyps.

Other risk factors for colon cancer

Other risk factors include obesity, smoking, alcohol, and an unhealthy diet, including years of eating a lot of red meat and processed meats.

There may be other risk factors that doctors do not yet know.

Risk factors for colon cancer: Certain diseases

Certain diseases also raise your colon cancer risk.

These include Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, and genetic diseases such as Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis. Genetic diseases can lead to cancer as early as age 30.

Don’t wait for colon cancer symptoms

Colon cancers found when you have symptoms are likely to be much more advanced than those that cause no symptoms.

Regular screening is important because cancer found before you have symptoms is more likely to be cured.

Colon cancer screening can save your life

You might want to avoid screening because it seems embarrassing and uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be – and it can prevent cancer.

Talk to your doctor about your risk and make a screening plan.

Slide Show - What are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?

This slide show describes the various symptoms you might have if you have colon cancer. The numerous tests used to screen for colon cancer are reviewed, including home stool tests, CT scans, colonoscopies, and sigmoidoscopies. The effectiveness and significance of removing polyps by doing a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy is also explained. Colon cancer risk factors such as your age, family history of the disease, your lifestyle habits, and having other certain diseases are discussed as well.

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This educational activity has been developed by
Colon Cancer Coalition and Mechanisms in Medicine Inc.

This activity is supported by an independent educational grant from Amgen.

This website is part of the Animated Patient™ series developed by Mechanisms in Medicine Inc., to provide highly visual formats of learning for patients to improve their understanding, make informed decisions, and partner with their healthcare professionals for optimal outcomes.