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Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer in Women

written by: Kimberly Sharpe • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 3/21/2011

Colon cancer symptoms in women are often overlooked by the sufferer because of embarrassment or denial. Early diagnosis and treatment offer the best prognosis for successful treatment.

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    Symptoms

    Colon cancer symptoms in women do not differ from those of men. The first indication that a problem may exist is a change in bowel habits. The sufferer may have bouts of constipation or diarrhea. The feeling of not being able to successfully evacuate the bowels may also exist or sudden urgency to go with very little control. Their may be pain or rectal bleeding.

    The stool may appear abnormal with spots of blood or deformed and overly thin. Frequent cramping may also indicate a problem. Women often assume the blood on the stool is from hemorrhoids. Even if the sufferer has a history of hemorrhoids they should still consult a doctor so further evaluations can successfully be made to determine the exact cause of the bleeding.

    As the cancer advances women may experience weight loss, lack of appetite and fatigue. Bloating can also be felt. Varying degrees of pain or discomfort exist, depending on the stage of the disease.

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    Tests

    A physician will usually order a stool test to determine the origin of any rectal bleeding. A stool test also has the capability of picking up the presence of blood even if it is not visible to the naked eye. Further testing may involve a colonoscopy, which allows the physician to physically see any areas of concern and immediately take a small sample for a biopsy to determine if malignant cells exist.

    A magnetic resonance imaging test, CT scan, ultra sound and X-rays may also be required to determine if the cancer has spread and help stage the disease. Nuclear medicine scanning can also aid the physician in seeing inside organs to look for any abnormal areas or growths that may exist.

    A woman with a family history of colon cancer may also wish to undergo genetic testing to screen for her possible risk of developing colon cancer. Some forms of colon/rectal cancer have a strong genetic background so determining if the patient carries the gene will help the physician evaluate her future risks.

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    Treatment

    Polyps that appear abnormal are often removed during a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Large tumors will require conventional surgery to successfully remove the tumor. The entire colon may require removal to successfully eliminate the tumor. If the cancer has spread to other regions of the body, known as metastatic cancer, the patient may be offered drug treatment options. Avastin, Erbitux and Vectibix have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for metastatic colon cancer. Conventional chemotherapy may also be used to treat the disease before or after surgery.

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    Follow-Up

    Monitoring colon cancer symptoms in women early will help aid in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Early diagnosis and treatment offers the greatest success recovery. Once the cancer has been successfully dealt with, the patient will still have to undergo regular checkups by a physician.

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    References

    Web MD: http://www.webmd.com/colorectal-cancer/guide/colorectal-cancer-overview-facts

    eMedicine Health: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/colon_cancer/article_em.htm

    Medline Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/colorectalcancer.html

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