Colon cancer does not come overnight. But the first clues are uncharacteristic and cause no pain, they are easily dismissed as a disability. The lack of reliable early symptoms for colorectal cancer makes early detection even more important.
Colon cancer: symptoms
In colon cancer, non-specific symptoms often occur, such as:
- an indefinite reduction in performance
- increased tiredness
- pale skin
- unclear weight loss
- possibly a slight fever
- unusually strong night sweats
All of these general symptoms are uncharacteristic but may be the first indications of a developing colorectal cancer. Since they are too ambiguous, they are usually not rated correctly and the colon cancer has time to evolve.
The first signs of colorectal cancer, which are essential as a typical warning sign and should give cause to visit the doctor without further delay, are:
- visible blood in the stool
- Changes in bowel habits, especially changes between diarrhea and constipation, but also more frequent stool urgency and foul-festering stool odor
- recurrent abdominal pain and flatulence, especially with concomitant stool
The latter symptom is also called the "symptom of the wrong friend".
Signs of colon cancer in the rectum
In an English study of 5, 500 colon cancer patients, repeated bowel bleeding and changes in bowel habits proved to be the most conclusive signs of colorectal cancer. Nevertheless, it can never be said: No blood, so no colon cancer.
Since blood stains in the stool often occur in hemorrhoids, one should not simply ablate blood deposits, but also make it necessary to have a thorough examination for colon cancer even with existing hemorrhoids.
If the colon cancer is located in the rectum, it often causes painful bowel movements and mucus mixed blood deposits. If the tumor already constricts the rectum, a so-called "pencil chair" is the result and there is an involuntary loss of stool and wind. Occasionally a hardening can be felt, especially in the case of a colon tumor on the right side.
6 facts about colon cancer - © istockphoto, Ivanna Olijnyk
Use early detection of colon cancer as an opportunity
It should not come that far. The purpose of the early detection of colorectal cancer is to detect and remove colon cancer at an early stage, in which it does not cause any symptoms. Because colon cancer is 100 percent curable if it is detected early.
And there are good possibilities: colon cancer develops slowly; It takes about 5 to 10 years for a malignant tumor to develop from a precursor - a benign adenoma - through continued gene changes.
Over 90% of colorectal cancers develop on the basis of a pre-existing adenoma, which can be detected and removed in good time in a colonoscopy. From the age of 50, the risk of developing colon cancer increases rapidly. Statutory insured persons are entitled to the following check-ups in the context of colorectal cancer screening from this age:
- Every year, from the age of 50 to 55, a stool examination for hidden blood and a palpation of the rectum
- From the age of 55, there is a choice between a total of two colonoscopy (colonoscopy) at intervals of 10 years or a stool examination for concealed blood every 2 years.
Preventive examinations are underused
Depending on the type of risk, colorectal cancer screening should be initiated much earlier, if there is a familial risk of colorectal cancer or an increased risk due to a chronic inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. Since 2002, the Felix Burda Foundation has proclaimed the month of March to be the month of the colon cancer, in order to draw the attention of the population to this subject again and again.
Because unfortunately the screening for the early detection of colorectal cancer are still far too little claimed by the claimants. Only 34% of women and 17% of men use the opportunity to prevent colon cancer early on. But still in Germany every year 27, 000 people are victims of colon cancer.