7 Subtle Signs of Colon Cancer You Shouldn’t Ignore

 Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and early detection significantly improves the chances of successful treatment. Unfortunately, many early signs of colon cancer can be subtle or mistaken for other conditions. Here are seven early warning signs of colon cancer that people often miss:

1. Changes in Bowel Habits

Description: Any persistent change in your normal bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or a change in the consistency of your stool, can be a warning sign. This includes frequent urges to have a bowel movement, a feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely, or narrowing of stools.

Why it’s missed: These symptoms are often attributed to dietary changes, stress, or minor gastrointestinal issues.

2. Blood in Stool

Description: The presence of blood in your stool, which can be bright red or dark, indicating bleeding in the colon or rectum.

Why it’s missed: Blood in the stool can be mistaken for hemorrhoids or minor tears in the anal area. Darker blood may be overlooked entirely.

3. Unexplained Weight Loss

Description: Significant and unexplained weight loss can be a sign of many types of cancer, including colon cancer.

Why it’s missed: Weight loss is often celebrated or attributed to dietary changes or increased exercise, rather than being recognized as a potential health concern.

4. Persistent Abdominal Discomfort

Description: This can include cramps, gas, or pain. Persistent pain, especially if it's on the right side, could be an indication of colon issues.

Why it’s missed: Abdominal discomfort is frequently attributed to indigestion, gas, or other non-serious gastrointestinal issues.

5. Fatigue and Weakness

Description: Feeling unusually tired or weak without a clear reason can be a sign of colon cancer. This is often due to the body losing blood internally, leading to anemia.

Why it’s missed: Fatigue is commonly blamed on busy lifestyles, stress, or lack of sleep, and not immediately associated with a serious health issue.

6. A Feeling of Incomplete Evacuation

Description: A persistent feeling that you need to have a bowel movement even after having one can indicate a growth in the colon or rectum.

Why it’s missed: This feeling is often thought to be due to constipation or other non-threatening bowel issues.

7. Narrow or Thin Stools

Description: A change in the shape of your stool, especially if it becomes narrower than usual, can indicate a blockage in the colon.

Why it’s missed: Changes in stool shape are often attributed to diet or dehydration rather than being seen as a sign of a potential problem.

Additional Considerations

Age and Risk Factors: Colon cancer is more common in individuals over 50, but younger people can also be affected. Family history and certain genetic conditions increase risk.

Screening: Regular screening, such as colonoscopies, can detect polyps or early signs of cancer before symptoms appear. It’s recommended to begin screening at age 45 or earlier if there are additional risk factors.

When to See a Doctor

If you experience any of these symptoms for more than a few weeks, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional. Early diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment and can significantly improve outcomes.


Being aware of these early warning signs can help you catch colon cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage. Regular medical check-ups and attention to changes in your body are key components of preventive health care.

If you have concerns or a family history of colon cancer, it’s important to discuss screening options with your doctor.

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