- What is cancer?
- What is colorectal cancer?
- What are the key statistics about colorectal cancer?
- What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?
- Do we know what causes colorectal cancer?
- Can colorectal cancer be prevented?
- Can colorectal polyps and cancer be found early?
- American Cancer Society recommendations for colorectal cancer early detection
- Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer
- How is colorectal cancer diagnosed?
- How is colorectal cancer staged?
- What are the survival rates for colorectal cancer by stage?
- How is colorectal cancer treated?
- Surgery for colon cancer
- Surgery for rectal cancer
- Ablation and embolization to treat colorectal cancer
- Radiation therapy for colorectal cancer
- Chemotherapy for colorectal cancer
- Targeted therapies for colorectal cancer
- Clinical trials for colorectal cancer
- Complementary and alternative therapies for colorectal cancer
- Treatment of colon cancer by stage
- Treatment of rectal cancer by stage
- More treatment information about colorectal cancer
- What should you ask your doctor about colorectal cancer?
- What happens after treatment for colorectal cancer?
- Lifestyle changes after treatment of colorectal cancer
- How does having colorectal cancer affect your emotional health?
- If treatment for colorectal cancer stops working
- What`s new in colorectal cancer research and treatment?
- Additional resources for colorectal cancer
- References: Colorectal cancer detailed guide
Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer may cause one or more of the symptoms below. If you have any of the following you should see your doctor:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
- Rectal bleeding
- Blood in the stool which may make it look dark
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
Colorectal cancers can bleed. While sometimes the blood can be seen or cause the stool to become darker, often the stool looks normal. The blood loss can build up over time, though, and lead to low red blood cell counts (anemia). Sometimes the first sign of colorectal cancer is a blood test showing a low red blood cell count.
Most of these problems are more often caused by conditions other than colorectal cancer, such as infection, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease. Still, if you have any of these problems, it's important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
Last Medical Review: 10/15/2014
Last Revised: 10/31/2014