What are the signs of colon cancer? While there are some symptoms that should prompt a swift visit to your doctor, the leading sign of colon cancer doesn’t exist. That’s because many times, you could have precancerous polyps or colorectal cancer and not have any symptoms at all. Here are some symptoms to pay attention to:
- Abdominal pain, aches or cramps that don’t go away
- Blood in your stool or on your stool
- Change in bowel habits
- Diarrhea, constipation or feeling that the bowel doesn’t empty all the way
- Losing weight without explanation
However, the fact that colon cancer is often silent and exhibits no symptoms – yet is the second biggest cancer killer among all the cancers that affect both men and women – underscores the importance of routine screening tests.
The importance of screening tests for colorectal cancer is gaining traction, as the percentage of adults age 50 to 75 who were up to date with their screening tests increased by 1.4% from 2016 to 2018 to 68.8%. Screenings for colon and rectal cancer can catch the cancer before it begins and remove potentially troublesome polyps. Colonoscopies are the gold standard of screening tests for colorectal cancer, and there are other at-home screening tests available. Talk to your doctor about which one is right for you. When colorectal cancer is found at an early stage, the five-year survival rate is about 90%. This year, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be nearly 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed, and more than 50,000 people will die from it. Disruptions during the pandemic caused many adults to delay their colon cancer screening tests: in the spring of 2020, screening tests for colon cancer dropped by 90%.
Catching colon cancer early through screenings is critical because there often are no symptoms. Talk to you doctor about your family and medical history to see if it’s time to undergo a screening for colon cancer.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network cover colorectal screenings for most members beginning at age 45 to align with the recommendation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. For more information, click here.
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