Colon Cancer in Women: Signs, Symptoms, and Complications

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Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women in the United States. In general, the lifetime risk of colon cancer in men is slightly higher (4.3%) than in women (4%). The symptoms of colon cancer are usually the same in men and women, but symptoms in women can be mistaken for gynecological or menstrual problems.

Obtain medical information / Teresa Chiechi

Common symptoms

Not everyone will have the first symptoms of colon cancer, and these can vary depending on the size and location of the cancer. If symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Changes in bowel habits that last more than a few days. This can include changes in stool consistency, diarrhea, or constipation.
  • Bright red rectal bleeding
  • Bloody stools that make the stool look brown or black.
  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Involuntary weight loss
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Feeling that the intestines are not emptying completely during a bowel movement.

You should discuss any symptoms with your doctor, especially if you have risk factors such as a family history of colon cancer.

Advanced stage

If left undiagnosed, colon cancer can lead to serious complications and symptoms. This includes:

  • Cancer spreads to lymph nodes
  • Cancer has spread to other organs in the body, such as the liver.
  • Blockage in the colon causing intestinal obstruction.

Colon cancer symptoms and gynecological problems.

The median age at diagnosis of colon cancer in women is 71 years, compared with 67 years for men. When rectal cancer is included, the average age is 69 for women and 66 for men.

Colon cancer is more common in older women who no longer have their periods. However, the number of people under the age of 50 who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer is on the rise. Between 2012 and 2016, the incidence of colorectal cancer increased annually by 2% among those under 50 years of age and 1% annually among those aged 50 to 64 years.

Some symptoms of colon cancer can be mistaken for normal menstruation symptoms or other gynecological problems. These symptoms include:

  • Bowel changes, diarrhea, and constipation, which are also common during menstruation.
  • Abdominal cramps, which can be mistaken for menstrual cramps.
  • Tired feeling that might not have been mistaken for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) .

When to contact a healthcare provider

Any change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, abdominal discomfort, and unintentional weight loss are symptoms that should be discussed with your healthcare provider.

If you have risk factors for colon cancer, you should discuss your colon cancer screening options with your doctor.

Colon cancer screening

The American Cancer Society recommends that women and men at average risk for colon cancer begin regular colon cancer screenings at age 45. For those with risk factors, such as a family history of colon cancer, your doctor may recommend that you start the test earlier.

Screening tests allow healthcare providers to detect colon cancer even if the person has no symptoms. Colon cancer often begins with abnormal growths in the colon called polyps . Screening tests, such as stool analysis or colonoscopy, can find these polyps before they become cancerous, allowing your healthcare provider to remove them before they become a problem. Regular screening tests also allow healthcare providers to detect colon cancer at an early stage, when treatment is most effective.

Even if you are younger than the recommended age for screening, your healthcare provider may recommend that you start regular screening due to your risk factors.

Risk factor's

There are several risk factors that can increase your chances of developing colon cancer. If you have any of these risk factors, you should discuss your options with your healthcare provider.

Colon cancer risk factors fall into two categories: those that can be changed and those that cannot be changed.

Risk factors that can be changed include lifestyle factors.

  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Lead a sedentary lifestyle and don't exercise regularly.
  • A diet rich in red meat or meat products.
  • Low in vitamin D
  • Of smoking
  • Drinking alcohol, even mild to moderate

However, some risk factors cannot be changed. This includes:

The lifetime risk of colorectal cancer for people with Lynch syndrome can be as high as 50%, depending on the genes involved. Women with Lynch syndrome are also at very high risk for cancer of the endometrium (lining of the uterus).

Whether you have risk factors that you can change through lifestyle changes or risk factors that you cannot control, it is important to discuss your risk and any symptoms with your healthcare provider.

Hormone replacement therapy

Studies have shown that postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can reduce the risk of rectal cancer in women. although this is still under investigation. The decision to start HRT should not be based solely on colon cancer risk. Taking estrogen and progesterone after menopause can increase a woman's risk for various diseases, as well as lung and breast cancer. You should discuss the benefits and risks of HRT with your doctor.

Get the word of drug information

Colon cancer can be scary and it can be difficult for women to distinguish symptoms of colon cancer from symptoms of menstruation or gynecological problems. Remember, having symptoms does not mean you have colon cancer. If you are ever in doubt or experience symptoms, you should speak to your doctor.

Regular screening means that colon cancer can be found early when treatment is most effective. You can reduce your risk of colon cancer with simple steps like maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and leading a healthy lifestyle.

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