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Colon Cancer: You Should Be Concerned if You Have this Newly Understood Symptom

While colon cancer has been a concern for older adults, a worrying trend has emerged: an increase in diagnoses among younger individuals.

colon cancer

There are a variety of symptoms that could be a sign of colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer. One such symptom only recently revealed is “pencil-thin” stool.

This is according to Dr. Michael Cecchini, co-director of the colorectal program at the Center for Gastrointestinal Cancers and medical oncologist at Yale Cancer Center, who spoke about colon cancer in an interview with the Huffington Post.

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One warning sign doctors look for is a change in stool consistency, particularly if your stools become much narrower, resembling the width of a pencil. Sometimes in patients with colorectal cancer “stools are much thinner, or they’re pencil in thickness and size, which is a description that some patients with colorectal cancer will have,” Dr. Cecchini said.

When it exists, it is highly concerning,” Cecchini added. “It’s just not one of the more common symptoms of the disease.”

While colorectal cancer has traditionally been a concern for older adults, a worrying trend has emerged: an increase in diagnoses among younger individuals. The exact cause for this rise remains a puzzle for medical professionals.

“There’s a strong consensus that lifestyle and environmental factors are likely at play,” explains Dr. Cecchini, a leading researcher in the field. “However, pinpointing the specific culprits has proven elusive.”

“It’s very easy in younger individuals to think, ‘Oh, it’s just hemorrhoids,’ or something like that … and it may be, but also those things can coexist,” said Cecchini. “People certainly have hemorrhoids and cancer, or it can be something else completely.”

Researchers are actively investigating various possibilities, including dietary changes, environmental exposures, and even potential unknown risk factors.

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is a type of cancer that develops in the colon or rectum. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

Several factors can increase your risk of developing colon cancer. Some of these risk factors can be modified, while others cannot.

Modifiable risk factors include age: The risk of colon cancer increases as you get older. Most cases of colon cancer are diagnosed in people over the age of 50.

Also, having a close relative (parent, sibling, or child) with colon cancer increases your risk as well as a history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease for more than eight years can increase your risk.
Lifestyle factors:
Diet: A diet low in fiber and high in red meat and processed meats can increase your risk.
Obesity: Being overweight or obese can increase your risk.
Smoking: Smoking cigarettes increases your risk of colon cancer.
Alcohol use: Heavy alcohol use can increase your risk.
Physical inactivity: A lack of physical activity can increase your risk.
Non-modifiable risk factors include:

Colon cancer often doesn’t cause any symptoms in its early stages. However, as the cancer grows, you may experience some of the following symptoms such as blood in your stool, a change in your bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea, rectal bleeding, narrow stools, abdominal pain or cramps and unexplained weight loss.

Early detection is key to successful treatment of colon cancer. Several screening tests are available to detect colon cancer early, when it is most treatable.

The treatment for colon cancer depends on the stage of the cancer, as well as your overall health. Treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment.



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