Rectal cancer, which is cancer that’s confined to the six or so inches at the end of your colon — your rectum — isn’t terribly common. In 2023, the American Cancer Society predicts that there will be slightly more than 46,000 diagnoses of rectal cancer.
However, when combined with colon cancer, the numbers are more worrisome as the two diseases are expected to lead to 52,550 deaths this year.
Our goal is to help our clients avoid this second statistic, so we’re focusing on early signs of rectal cancer here. In the following, the team of colorectal experts here at Fairfax Colon & Rectal Surgery presents six potential signs of rectal cancer.
Please note that each of these signs can be associated with other issues, but if you’re experiencing ongoing problems with one or more of the following, it’s time to come see us.
One of the most common signs of a problem in your rectum is changes in your bowel movements. For example, you may develop constipation or diarrhea for reasons you simply can’t figure out as your diet and lifestyle are the same. Or, perhaps, you’re having bowel movements more frequently than usual.
Another red flag that there’s a potential problem in your rectum is blood in your stool. This blood can range in color from bright red to a darker red or maroon color.
While you may not pay attention to the circumference of your stool, you do notice that your stool is decidedly thinner. This could indicate a narrowing in your rectum caused by rectal cancer.
You may feel something strange in your rectum, such as the sensation that not all of your stool came out during your bowel movement.
Like many other cancers, you may feel tired, weak, or exhausted more than normal if you have rectal cancer. This occurs because your body is fighting a disease.
As rectal cancer advances, it can lead to lower abdominal pain.
As you can see above, some potential signs of rectal cancer are quite common, such as constipation or diarrhea. You should take this into consideration and look out for a combination of symptoms or symptoms you can’t easily explain.
We also want to point out a few general characteristics of rectal cancer that may help guide you. First, the average age of diagnosis for rectal cancer in both men and women is 63.
Rectal cancer tends to affect men more than women, but not by much. The lifetime risk for colorectal cancer in men is 1 in 23, as opposed to 1 in 26 for women.
When it comes to race, rectal cancer tends to affect black people more than white people for reasons we don’t understand.
We present these points to guide you, but we feel strongly that you should always err on the side of caution. If you’re experiencing any of the six signs we mentioned above, regardless of whether you fall into the risk categories, it’s best to come to see us. Hopefully, we won’t find rectal cancer and can, instead, remedy your symptoms.
For expert rectal cancer evaluation and screening, please contact one of our offices in Fairfax, Fair Oaks, Alexandria, Gainesville, Woodbridge, or Lansdowne, Virginia, to schedule an appointment.