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Rectal Cancer Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Rectal Cancer

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Updated June 03, 2014

Rectal Cancer Symptoms
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Rectal cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the rectum, the bottom portion of the colon (large intestine) closest to the anus. Like other organs in our body, the rectum is vulnerable to many diseases and conditions, including cancer.

In the early stages, a patient with rectal cancer may not have symptoms. With advanced disease, more symptoms may appear. Every patient is different. The following are a list of symptoms possible with rectal cancer. Remember that all of these symptoms can be seen with other more common and less serious conditions.

Rectal Cancer Symptoms

Blood in the Stool: Rectal bleeding is a common symptom of rectal cancer. It may not always be apparent, though. The fecal occult blood test (FOBT) detects blood in the stool that cannot be seen. It is also associated with less severe health problems, such as hemorrhoids and anal fissures.

Remember that some foods, like beets, watermelon, and red licorice can cause changes in stool color. To be on the safe side, always report changes to your doctor.

Thin Stools: A change in the pattern of a bowel movement to thin or ribbon-like stools may indicate a problem. A growth in the color or rectum that is partially obstructing the bowel can change the size and shape of stool as it exits the body. Other conditions may also cause thin stools, like a large benign polyp or hemorrhoids.

How thin is too thin? A thin stool is considered to be as thin as a pencil. If you consistently notice thinner stools, and this is a change for you (even if they aren't as thin as a pencil) let your doctor know.

Sensation of Rectal Pressure or Fullness: If you feel like you have to empty your bowel, even after just doing so, or feel you are repeatedly not emptying your bowel fully, talk to your doctor. A mass in your rectum can give you that sensation.

Fatigue: Fatigue that last more than a few days can indicate a medical problem. Fatigue related to rectal cancer can be due to anemia, because of blood loss in the stool. Like other symptoms of rectal cancer, fatigue is a vague symptom and can be related to many other less serious conditions.

Sources:

Detailed Guide: Colon and Rectum Cancer: What Are the Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer? American Cancer Society. 7 Mar. 2006. 14 July 2009.

Overview: Colon and Rectum Cancer: What Causes Colorectal Cancer? American Cancer Society. 15 Mar. 2006. 14 July 2009.

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