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Signs of Colon Cancer in Women: Causes, Stages, Treatment & When Should I See Doctor!

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Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer. However, there are specific signs and symptoms that women should be aware of, as they can indicate the presence of colon cancer.Early detection and intervention are crucial for successful treatment and improved outcomes. This overview highlights the colon cancer symptoms in women, emphasizing the importance of regular screenings and seeking medical attention if any concerning symptoms arise.

What Is Colon Cancer?

An illness known as colorectal cancer occurs when tissues of the GI tract or rectum proliferate uncontrollably. In brief, colon cancer is the term used occasionally. The large intestine, also known as the colon, forms the gastrointestinal tract. The path from the intestinal tract to the anus is called the rectum. As you age, your chance of developing colorectal cancer rises—tumorous development in the large intestinal tract causes colon cancer. Early on, it typically shows no signs at all. If people observe consistent stool changes, they should consult a physician. Colon cancer can show little evidence at first. In actuality, several carcinomas of the colon indicators might also be brought on by other issues. 

Signs & Symptoms of Colon Cancer in Women:

Colon cancer can present with two types of symptoms: local symptoms and systemic symptoms. These symptoms can vary in severity and may provide important clues for early detection and diagnosis.

Local Symptoms: 

Local symptoms of colon cancer primarily relate to changes or discomfort in the digestive tract. These symptoms are often located in or near the abdomen and are directly related to the colon and rectum. Some common local symptoms include:

Change in Bowel Habits

Colon cancer can disrupt the normal functioning of the colon, leading to changes in bowel habits. This might manifest as alternating periods of diarrhea and constipation. Such shifts from one extreme to another can be indicative of an underlying issue.

Blood in Stool

Blood in the stool, also known as rectal bleeding, can be alarming. It might appear as bright red blood or dark, tarry stools. This symptom could arise from bleeding tumours in the colon or rectum, which should be investigated by a healthcare professional.

Abdominal Discomfort

Unexplained abdominal pain, cramps, or discomfort, especially in the lower abdomen, could be a sign of irritation, inflammation, or obstruction caused by a tumour in the colon.

Narrow Stools 

In a woman signs of colon cancer in stool can be one of the serious problems. The presence of tumours in the colon could partially obstruct the passage of stool, resulting in stools that are narrower than usual. This could be due to the reduced space available for stool to pass through.

Bowel Movement Urgency

If you experience sudden and frequent urges to have a bowel movement, often with a feeling that you need to go urgently, it could be related to the presence of a tumour affecting normal bowel movements.

Feeling of Incomplete Evacuation

A persistent sensation that you haven’t fully emptied your bowels after a bowel movement might be due to a tumour causing an obstruction or affecting the colon’s ability to contract and expel waste.

Tenesmus

Tenesmus refers to the feeling of needing to pass stools even after a bowel movement. It can be uncomfortable and is often caused by the presence of a tumour that affects the nerves and muscles controlling bowel movements.

Bowel Obstruction Symptoms

Advanced colon cancer could lead to a partial or complete blockage of the colon, resulting in severe abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, and an inability to pass gas or stools. This situation requires immediate medical attention.

Rectal Bleeding

Blood noticed in the toilet bowl, on toilet paper, or underwear after bowel movements could be a sign of tumours or abnormal growths in the rectum or lower colon.

Unexplained Gas or Bloating

Persistent gas, bloating, or cramping that cannot be attributed to dietary factors might be related to disruptions in the colon’s normal function caused by tumours.

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Mucus in Stool

 Presence of mucus in the stool could indicate inflammation or irritation in the colon, often caused by the presence of tumours.

Changes in Bowel Consistency

Signs of Colon cancer in women can lead to significant changes in the consistency of stools. This might involve sudden and consistent shifts between loose stools and hard, dry stools.

Systemic Symptoms:

Systemic symptoms of colon cancer are more general and can affect the entire body. These symptoms are not confined to the digestive system and may indicate that the cancer has progressed or spread. Some common systemic symptoms include:

Unexplained Weight Loss

Significant and unintentional weight loss can occur due to the body’s response to cancer. The cancer cells can affect metabolism and cause the body to lose weight even without changes in diet or physical activity.

Fatigue

Ongoing fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest can result from the body diverting energy and resources to combat the cancer. Anaemia, often associated with colon cancer, can also contribute to feelings of fatigue.

Anemia

Colon cancer can cause chronic bleeding in the digestive tract, leading to a decrease in red blood cells. This results in anemia, which can lead to symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, paleness, and shortness of breath.

Loss of Appetite

A decreased appetite might stem from the body’s response to the cancer or could be due to the obstruction caused by a tumor, leading to a feeling of fullness even after consuming small amounts of food.

Jaundice

Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice) can occur if the cancer has spread to the liver or bile ducts, obstructing the normal flow of bile. This can lead to a buildup of bilirubin, causing the characteristic yellow colour.

Enlarged Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes, which are part of the immune system, can become enlarged if cancer has spread to them. Swelling in the neck, armpits, or groyne might be indicative of this spread.

Fever

Some cases of colon cancer in women can cause the immune system to respond with a fever. A persistent or recurrent fever without an obvious cause should be evaluated by a medical professional.

Night Sweats

Unexplained night sweats, particularly drenching sweats that disrupt sleep, can be associated with advanced cancer. These sweats might be related to the body’s response to cancer-related inflammation.

Abdominal Distension

 An increase in abdominal girth or bloating can occur due to the growth of tumors, accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites), or bowel obstruction caused by the tumor.

Pelvic Pain

Pain in the pelvic region might indicate that the cancer has spread to nearby structures or is causing pressure on nerves and blood vessels.

Bone Pain

If colon cancer spreads to the bones, it can cause bone pain. This pain might be constant or intermittent and can occur in any bone but commonly affects the spine, hips, and long bones.

Neurological Symptoms

 In advanced cases where the cancer has spread to the nervous system, symptoms like headaches, dizziness, weakness, or numbness might occur.

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What causes colon cancer in females?

The development of signs of colon cancer in women  is influenced by a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. While the exact cause of colon cancer is not always clear, several risk factors have been identified:

Age: 

The signs of colon cancer in women increases with age, with most cases diagnosed after the age of 50.

Family History:

A family history of colon cancer or certain genetic syndromes, like Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), can increase the risk.

Personal History: 

Individuals with a history of inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, are at a higher risk.

Diet: 

A diet high in red and processed meats, low in fiber, fruits, and vegetables can contribute to an increased risk.

Physical Inactivity: 

Sedentary lifestyles are associated with a higher likelihood of developing colon cancer.

Obesity: 

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of colon cancer, particularly in women.

Smoking and Alcohol: 

Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can elevate the risk of colon cancer.

Type 2 Diabetes:

 Individuals with type 2 diabetes have an increased likelihood of developing colon cancer.

Radiation Exposure:

 Previous exposure to radiation therapy for other medical conditions can increase the risk.

Certain Medications: 

Long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and certain hormone replacement therapies might impact risk.

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Prevention of Colon Cancer in Women:

Prevention Measures: 

Preventing colon cancer in women  involves a combination of adopting a healthy lifestyle and undergoing regular screenings. Here are some prevention strategies that women can follow:

Healthy Diet:

Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limit red and processed meats, as well as foods high in saturated fats and sugars.

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High Fibre Intake: 

Include foods high in fiber, like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, as they promote regular bowel movements and support colon health.

Regular Exercise: 

Engage in regular physical activity, aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Exercise can help maintain a healthy weight and promote overall well-being.

Limit Alcohol and Avoid Smoking: 

Reduce alcohol intake and avoid smoking, as both alcohol consumption and smoking have been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer.

Maintain a Healthy Weight:

Strive to maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise, as obesity is associated with a higher risk of colon cancer.

Stay Hydrated: 

Drink plenty of water to keep your digestive system functioning optimally.

Screening Guidelines: 

Adhere to recommended screening guidelines. Most guidelines suggest regular colonoscopies starting at age 50, earlier if there are risk factors or family history.

Know Your Family History: 

Be aware of your family’s medical history, especially concerning colon cancer. If there’s a history of the disease, consider earlier and more frequent screenings.

Manage Chronic Conditions: 

If you have conditions like diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, or a history of polyps, work with your healthcare provider to manage them effectively.

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Treatment for Colon Cancer in Women:

The decision to initiate treatment for signs of colon cancer in women involves various factors, including the stage of cancer, overall health, and individual preferences. Treatment options for colon cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Here’s when treatment may be considered:

Diagnosis and Staging: 

After a confirmed diagnosis of colon cancer, your doctor will determine the stage of the cancer to understand how advanced it is and whether it has spread. The stage helps guide treatment decisions.

Early Stages: 

For early-stage colon cancer, where the cancer is confined to the colon or rectum and hasn’t spread to nearby lymph nodes or distant organs, surgical removal of the tumour may be the primary treatment. Additional treatments might be recommended based on the specific situation.

Advanced Stages:

If the cancer has advanced or spread, a combination of treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy, might be recommended to target the cancer cells and prevent further progression.

Individualized Treatment Plans: 

Your healthcare team will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan tailored to your specific condition, health status, and preferences.

Discussing Options:

It’s important to have open and honest discussions with your doctor about treatment options, potential side effects, and expected outcomes. This will help you make informed decisions about your care.

Timely Initiation: 

Treatment should be initiated promptly after a diagnosis is made and a treatment plan is established. Early treatment can improve the chances of successful outcomes and reduce the risk of cancer spreading further.

Remember, every individual’s situation is unique, and treatment decisions should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider. Seeking treatment for colon cancer involves a collaborative approach between you, your doctor, and the entire healthcare team to ensure the best possible care and outcomes.

When should I see the Doctor?

To identify and cure the reason, you should consult your physician if you experience any of these. The primary indications of signs of colon cancer in women are:

  • A significant shift in one’s stool patterns, including loose stool, diarrhea, or shrinkage of the feces
  • An urge for stool that doesn’t go away when you’ve had one
  • Bright crimson blood dripping from the rectal area
  • Bleeding in your stool could give it a black or dark brown appearance.
  • Inflammation in the abdomen or stomach
  • Sluggishness and exhaustion
  • Losing weight without any effort

Colon cancer frequently doesn’t show signs before it has advanced or propagated. Because of this, it’s advisable to get diagnosed with the disease even before indications appear.

Conclusion

Therapy for rectal or colon cancer varies depending on the kind of malignancies, its size, and how far the tumor has progressed. Among the possible treatment forms are the immunotherapy course, selective therapy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. Many patients receive multiple kinds of care. You must communicate honestly with the physician, and feel free to clarify any confusion you may have. You can carry along a set of queries to pose to your physician.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How long is it possible to ignore tumors in the colon?

According to the findings, people had an average lifespan of two years (range: 16–42 months). It was discovered that the year’s likelihood of survival remained 65 percent and the two-year survivor rate was twenty-five percent. Additionally, a satisfactory standard of living was noted.

Q2. Is there a complete cure for colon cancer?

When limited to the intestines, colon cancer is a very manageable and frequently curable condition. About half of patients respond well to surgery, the main kind of therapy. Relapse after surgical procedures, however, is a serious issue and frequently the last cause of mortality.

Q3. Can colorectal cancer develop quickly?

Once malignancy of the colon has taken hold, one’s age and general health status, as well as the cell structure of the tumor, will all play a role in how cancer progresses. Colon cancer generally progresses slowly. However, it remains a dangerous condition that has to be treated right away.

Q4. Can malignancy of the colon cause a person to die young?

Patients with intestinal cancer can survive as long as they would normally if they don’t get an outbreak again. The individual’s options for therapy will determine how long they live if the cancer returns. If surgery is possible, patients who have recurrences may be cured.

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