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Colorectal Cancer: Symptoms

What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?

People with colorectal cancer often do not have symptoms right away. By the time symptoms appear, the cancer may have grown or spread to other organs, which may make treating it harder. That’s why routine screening is important.

As cancers in the colon and rectum grow, warning signs may arise. You should tell your health care provider and get prompt medical attention if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • A change in bowel habits that lasts for more than a few days, including diarrhea, constipation, or a sensation that your bowel is still not empty after a bowel movement

  • Bright red or very dark blood in your stool

  • Constant tiredness

  • Pica (unusual food cravings), such as for ice

  • Stools that are thinner than usual

  • Stools that appear slimy or that have a mucous film on them

  • Persistent gas pains, bloating, fullness, or cramps

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Vomiting

These symptoms may be caused by colorectal cancer or by other, less serious conditions. It is important to check with your healthcare provider to be sure.

When to see your healthcare provider

Many of these symptoms may be caused by other, more common health problems. But it is important to see your healthcare provider if you have these symptoms. Only a healthcare provider can tell if you have colorectal cancer.