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Recognizing and Identifying Colon Cancer Symptoms in Women
Whether you are a man or a woman, the symptoms of colon cancer are pretty much the same. However, here are a few ways in which colon cancer can appear differently in women than in men.
The National Cancer Institute in the United States has stated that colon cancer in both men and women ranks number four as being the most common. Though it is one of the more prevalent types of cancer that afflicts people, it is one of the more serious and aggressive types of cancer. Colon cancer, also called colorectal cancer, could affect anyone so it is important to know the signs and symptoms to look out for so you can be vigilant.
Risk Factors For Colon Cancer in Women
It is important to know if you have any of the risk factors for getting colon cancer as a woman. If you know you have risk factors then you can be more vigilant so that if a symptom appears you can have it checked out immediately.
Statistics show that women are more likely than men to get colon cancer. It is especially important for women to know that just by being female they are more prone to get colon cancer so they can watch out for symptoms of colon cancer.
If you are aged 50 or older then you are at an increased risk of getting colon cancer. Even though anyone under the age of 50 can also get colon cancer, the risk dramatically increases at the age of 50 and keeps increasing after each passing year.
Your genes can also play a role in if you are at risk for getting colon cancer. Statistics and studies have shown that if you have a parent or sibling that has had colon cancer, then your chance for getting colon cancer is increased by 20%. Also if you have anyone in your family that has been diagnosed with having polyps you are also at a higher risk for developing polyps that could be another risk factor for colon cancer. You are also more at risk if you are African-American.
Your Own Health
If you have had certain types of medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease or diabetes, you are at an increased risk of getting colon cancer. If you have had any type of cancer in the past, particularly uterine, ovarian, or breast cancer, you are at higher risk of getting colon cancer. If you have already had colon cancer in the past you could also get it again, especially after the age of 60 if you had it before you were 60.
Lifestyle and Diet
The type of lifestyle you have can determine if you are at risk of getting colon cancer. You are at a higher risk if you are a smoker, you drink alcohol regularly, have a diet that is high in cholesterol and fat, are overweight or obese, and do not get enough exercise or physical activity.
Just because you have one or more of these risk factors it does not mean that you will definitely get colon cancer. However, if you are at risk then you should be more careful about recognizing symptoms when they appear and staying on top of monitoring your body for symptoms.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer in Women
If you have even the beginning stages of colon cancer, fatigue is one of the most common symptoms in women. Women have often stated that they experienced fatigue well before any other symptoms. Since fatigue can be attributed to so many other conditions, or even something as simple as having a busy lifestyle, it is almost impossible to think that your fatigue alone would be an early sign of colon cancer. Fatigue in women with cancer is caused by the excess calories that the tumor is using to stay alive. Sometimes women with colon cancer experience unnatural bleeding with their stool, so can become anemic or overly fatigued due to the blood loss. If you are experiencing unnatural fatigue and are getting enough sleep at night, you should definitely see your doctor, especially if you are at risk for colon cancer.
If you are a woman that has a normal and regular menstrual cycle, suddenly not having a menstrual cycle (and not being pregnant), or all of a sudden having a lot of bleeding or spotting when you aren’t supposed to, is a symptom of colon cancer in women. Since having cancer can get your hormones off-track, it could cause irregular or non-existent periods.
Strange Weight Loss
If you are suddenly losing weight without trying, it is a sign of colon cancer. Oftentimes with colon cancer you may have a tumor that is located within the colon that can cause you to feel full if you are not, and make you eat less. It could also give you less of an appetite, so you will lose weight unexpectedly.
Alteration in Bowel Movements
A common symptom in women with colon cancer is a sudden or over time change that is noticeable in their bowel movements or schedule. If you have these symptoms for two weeks or longer, it is a sign of colon cancer and should be checked out. Sometimes these changes can come slowly, but usually they are sudden and are sometimes mistaken for a long-lasting stomach bug or virus that will not go away. You could have either constipation or diarrhea. You could also see a difference in the consistency and size of your bowel movements. Commonly the size will change to long and stringy or narrow.
Pain in the Abdomen
The symptom of having pain in the abdominal area is a common one in women with colon cancer. As reported, it usually starts off as a dull ache that may feel like a little gas or constipation that is trying to pass. After a short while the dull ache can turn into a stronger pain that can feel like it is either burning or stabbing and as it gets worse it can start to send waves of pain throughout the pelvic area and lower back. Sometimes you may also experience shock waves and muscle spasms in the area.
An early symptom of colon cancer in women is bleeding from the anus. If you are having bleeding that is not accompanied by a large or difficult to pass stool, this is a symptom. Another symptom in blood in the stool when you are not on your menstrual cycle and the blood has not come from anywhere else. The blood could range in color from black to dark maroon to bright red. The color depends on the location of the colon cancer or tumor.
There are other colon cancer symptoms in women that you should watch for. These include:
- Problems swallowing (advanced stages)
- Bloating or feeling bloated
- Unexplainable skin rashes
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Persistent cough
- Blood in urine
- Feeling like you are gassy or still need to have a bowel movement after you have already gone
It does not matter if you have any risk factors or not, if you have experienced or noticed any or more of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor to be screened immediately. Since colon cancer is one of the more aggressive types of cancer, you should be watchful and attentive at all times to any uncommon changes in your body.