Always Recognize Symptoms
- Three years ago, Matt Best, now 39, went to his physician for a blood test when he was feeling extremely weak and fatigued. He was told he was anemic, but after going through more tests, was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer.
- Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, refers to any type of cancer that starts in the large bowels, such as the colon.
- Detecting signs of colorectal cancer can be tricky, but key symptoms include anemia, change in bowel movements, unexplained weight loss and pain in the abdomen.
Three years ago, Best went to his physician for a blood test when he was feeing extremely and consistently fatigued and weak. The blood test determined he was anemic, but was told it was nothing to worry about. Although anemia is an early sign of certain types of cancers, Best’s age made him unlikely to be diagnosed. However, he pushed for more tests since he wanted every answer possible. He went through a colonoscopy which found a tumor growing in his large intestine. He was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer.Read More
He immediately started a six-month chemotherapy regimen, and was later declared in remission. The experience taught him the importance of speaking up and recognizing possible symptoms when you feel like something is wrong. “If it doesn’t feel right, get it checked! Better yet, don’t wait and have a regular check-up,” Best told The Sun.
What is Bowel Cancer?
Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, refers to any type of cancer that starts in the large bowels, such as the colon. Depending on where it begins, patients may be diagnosed with either colon cancer or rectal cancer. The disease begins when polyps grow from the inner lining of the bowel. Usually these polyps are harmless, but if left untreated, they can become cancerous.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer affecting men and women in the United States, and the second most deadly. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 104,000 new cases of colon cancer and more than 45,000 new cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2021. The good news is that colorectal cancer is often preventable with regular screenings. In fact, research shows that as many as one third of all colon cancer deaths could be prevented with regular screenings.
Symptoms of Bowel Cancer
Unlike other types of cancers, where you can spot discolorations/changes on the outside of your body, colon cancer is trickier. The cancer forms on the inside, so it’s important to recognize early signs of colon cancer and consult your doctor immediately if you feel that something is different.
- Change in your bowel movements: While there is a varying spectrum of “normal” bowel patterns, you should be on the lookout for anything that is outside of your personal normal. You should also pay attention to any change in the caliber, or size, of your stool. If your stool looks unusually thin, this may be a cause for concern.
- Change in stool color: If your stool is bright red or black, you should seek prompt medical attention. This could be indicative of a serious issue that may pertain to colon cancer.
- Pain in the abdomen: If you’re experiencing unusual pain in the abdomen region, and it’s not related to a menstrual cycle, you may want to consult with a doctor.
- Unexpected weight loss: Disregarding factors like stress and worry – which can lead to diet changes, and thus, weight loss – if you are losing weight and you don’t know why, consult your doctor.
- Anemia: Be on the lookout for increased feelings of being tired or weak; this subtle change in energy may be the result of anemia. If you suspect you may have anemia – which can be caused by iron deficiency (this is the most common type of anemia), vitamin deficiency, and more – you should consult a physician. Anemia can be one symptom of colon or colorectal cancer.