of Colon Cancer

Symptoms and signs of colon cancer most commonly include blood in the stool or a change in bowel habits.

  • Visible blood in the stool or a darkening of stool color as a result of the presence of blood.
  • A change in bowel habits.
    • Diarrhea, constipation or a feeling that the bowel does not completely empty.
  • Pencil thin or narrowing of stool.
  • Bloating or frequent gas pains, fullness, or cramps.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting

Risk factors

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get colon cancer and not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer, it simply means that you are at greater risk than normal to develop the cancer.

Risk factors for colorectal cancer include the following:

  • Having a family history of colon cancer in a first degree relative (parent, sibling, or child).
  • Having a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (Ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease)
  • Having a personal history of previous colon, rectal, or ovarian cancer.
  • Having inherited changes in certain genes associated with familial colon cancer and polyposis syndromes.
    • Lynch syndrome
    • Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP)
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • More than 3 drinks of alcohol per day.

Older age is also a risk factor for most cancers. The chance of getting cancer increases as you get older.

Next: Diagnosis & Tests for Colon Cancer


American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2017.