Dr. Robert Reynolds
Ask a Pro- Colorectal Cancer Awareness


Dr. Dr. Robert Reynolds, Radiation Oncologist, Bismarck Cancer Center

Q:  My mother passed away from colon cancer a few years ago. Are there any signs or symptoms I should be watching for?

A:  In the early stages of colorectal cancer, symptoms may be minimal, or not present at all, which is why screening is so important. As a tumor grows, it may bleed or obstruct the intestine, causing symptoms such as weakness and sometimes shortness of breath. Additional warning signs include:

• Bleeding from the rectum

• Blood in the stool or in the toilet after having a bowel movement

• Dark or black stools

• A change in bowel habits or the shape of the stool (e.g., more narrow than usual)

• Cramping or discomfort in the lower abdomen

    Colon cancer usually begins as a noncancerous growth called a polyp that develops on the inner lining of the colon or rectum and grows slowly, over a period of 10 to 20 years. People with an average risk of colon cancer should consider screening at age 50, but people with an increased risk, such as family history of colon cancer, should consider screening sooner.  

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