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Colorectal Cancer Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Risk Factors

  • Symptoms: The most common symptoms of colorectal cancer are changes in your bowel movements, including persistent constipation or diarrhea; feeling as if you are not able to empty your bowel completely; rectal bleeding; blood in your stool; long, thin stools; abdominal pain; bloating; fatigue; unusual loss of appetite; unusual weight loss; or you have been diagnosed with anemia.
  • Diagnosis: Beginning at age 50, everyone should be screened every 10 years for colorectal cancer. If you are considered at high risk for colorectal cancer, earlier screening may be recommended. To screen for colorectal cancer, your doctor will perform a colonoscopy, an evaluation of your colon and rectum with a scope. If your doctor sees any abnormal areas during the colonoscopy, a tissue sample will be taken for biopsy. If the biopsy confirms colorectal cancer, your doctor may order an X-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan to see if the cancer has spread to any other parts of the body.
  • Treatment: Colorectal cancer is usually treated with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
  • Risk Factors: Some risk factors for colorectal cancer may include the presence of colon polyps, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease; related inherited medical conditions; or exposure to chemicals such as chlorine or asbestos.
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