Colon Cancer Symptoms

Colon Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of colon cancer are typically grouped into nine stages. When you have colon cancer, your healthcare providers will try to figure out the stage of your disease. Knowing the stage helps them plan treatment and check how well it’s working.

It also can tell them if you need more testing or if they should look for a second opinion. But remember The survival rate for people with stage I is about 70%. And even though most people say “stage IV,” this isn’t an official staging system that doctors use to describe their patients’ cancer. Here is some common information that might help you understand what your doctor might be talking about when s/he gives you the stage of your colon cancer.

Colon Cancer Stages:

There are seven stages of colon cancer:

Stage 0-Tis, no evidence of a tumor. This is also known as adenoma in situ-adenomas are noncancerous growths that can turn into cancer. Usually, no treatment is needed after a diagnosis of stage 0 except for watching and waiting to see if it changes or gets worse.

Sometimes this stage is used to describe a polyp that tests positive for the APC gene mutation. And doctors may call this precancerous, meaning there’s a higher risk of it turning into colon cancer. But most polyps don’t become colon cancers.

Stage I-Cancer is found in the inner part of the colon or right side of the colon, plus it has spread to 1 to 3 nearby lymph nodes (N1).

Stage II-Cancer is found in the inner part of the colon or right side of the colon, plus it has spread to 4 to 6 nearby lymph nodes (N2).

Stage III-Cancer is found in the inner part of the colon or right side of the colon, plus it has spread outside 1 axillary lymph node on only one side (N0), with NO distant metastases. Since this case describes cancer that’s only affected your axillary lymph node and not other parts of your body, the stage is Stage III.

Stage IV-Cancer has spread to nearby organs, such as your liver, or it has spread to other parts of your body (metastasis). This is the most advanced stage of colon cancer.

STAGE 0: These polyps are precancerous and can sometimes turn into colon cancer later. But most don’t. Some experts now call this stage APC-positive polyp or a mutated gene adenoma because about 30%–50% of these polyps have changes in the APC gene that cause them to be abnormal and could lead to cancer. It’s not clear how much risk people with this condition have for getting colon cancer, but doctors will likely recommend watching and waiting, instead of removing the polyp.

STAGE I: Cancer has grown into a nearby lymph node but not very far beyond it. The cancer is only found in the inner part of the colon or right side of the colon. It has spread to one to three nearby lymph nodes (LN1), usually on only one side (unilateral). At this stage, you might have some symptoms, but they’re likely minor—and many people don’t even notice them until later.

STAGE II: Distant metastases mean that cancer cells have traveled beyond your lymph nodes and are growing at other sites in your body. At this stage, the tumor may be any size and could be either unilateral or bilateral (both sides).

STAGE III: At this stage, cancer cells have spread from the inner lining of the colon through the wall to other tissues and organs near your colon. In some cases, they may be growing in nearby lymph nodes on both sides (bilateral).

OR Stage IIIC-Distant metastasis means that cancer cells have traveled beyond your lymph nodes and are growing at other sites. The most common place for these distant metastases is in the liver (hepatic metastases; also called the hematogenous spread) or lung (pulmonary metastases). It’s not unusual for people with advanced colorectal cancer to develop more than one kind of distant metastasis.

Stage IV: Cancer has spread to distant organs beyond the colon or has grown into nearby tissues. In some cases, it may have spread to distant organs on only one side (unilateral).

early symptoms of colon cancer:

shortness of breath, cough, hoarseness, coughing up blood (hemoptysis), pain or burning when passing urine (dysuria), blood in the stool (melena), or more frequent need to urinate during the night.

Some other symptoms include:

a change in normal bowel habits lasting more than a few days, persistent abdominal distention, and unexplained weight loss.

These are generally not early symptoms; they usually appear only after cancer has had plenty of time to grow.

Early warning signs may also be present; however, if these signs do not cause any discomfort and go unnoticed by the patient then there is no chance that they can become cancerous. Therefore it becomes important for an individual to get regular checkups done and get an early screening test like a colonoscopy, to detect and prevent cancer.

There is no advantage of knowing the signs and symptoms if they do not bother you or cause discomfort. It is important to understand that it may not be cancer in many cases so there is no need for anxiety or panic. It is always better to err on the side of caution but wait until it gets unbearable before consulting your doctor.

If someone suspects having any such symptom then they must see their doctor immediately for further diagnosis and treatment. If it turns out that they have bowel polyps then usually removal of these polyps helps in warding off colon cancer in the future etc.


Individuals should go for regular screenings tests at least once in three years to detect early signs of cancer.

If the first attempt at screening test is positive then further tests are done to confirm it. After confirming, patients should consult their doctors for further treatment. Treatment depends on the stage of cancer, its spread, and other associated problems. Surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy are some of the common methods followed by doctors throughout the world for treating colon cancer successfully.

After completing the treatment individuals need not be anxious but take precautions so as not to get colon cancer again in the future. This includes eating a healthy diet high in fiber content, exercising regularly to maintain optimal weight and avoiding smoking, etc.

colon cancer causes:

The exact cause of colon cancer is not known. The risk of developing colon and rectal cancers depends on age, family history, and lifestyle factors such as excess body weight and diet.

You may inherit a tendency to develop bowel polyps or colorectal cancer from your parents, but often there are no obvious reasons why the disease develops.

Colon cancer is common in developed countries where people eat high-fat diets and lead inactive lifestyles.

The majority (90%) of the tumors begin within the inner lining of the large intestine (the mucosa) which is made up of cells that can divide and grow rapidly (cells in this lining go through a rapid turnover every 4–5 days). These cells gradually accumulate mutations (genetic defects) that lead to uncontrolled growth.

However, this is not true in certain ethnic groups, where the disease affects people with a low incidence of more serious cancers linked to environmental factors such as smoking and diet. These differences can usually be explained by a difference in a few genes involved in the repair of damaged DNA.

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