Signs & Symptoms

Colorectal cancer usually begins in the colon or the rectum. It often begins as a polyp, an abnormal growth of tissue in the lining of the colon. These polyps can become cancer. Having regular screenings such as a colonoscopy can help doctors find and remove polyps early before they have a chance to become cancer.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

Since symptoms of colorectal cancer are often silent, it is important to get screened regularly. You should make an appointment with your doctor immediately if you notice any of the warning signs or symptoms listed below. 

  • Change in your bowel habits that last for more than a few days and cannot be explained by travel or illness:  
    • Diarrhea
    • Constipation
    • Stools that are narrower than usual
  • Blood in your stools or blood on the toilet paper
  • Feeling that your bowel does not empty completely
  • Frequent gas pains or cramps, feeling full or bloated
  • Unexplained weight loss 

Most often, these symptoms are not due to cancer and are caused by other health problems. However, if these symptoms are persistent or ongoing, see a physician as early as possible.

For more information about the Cancer Institute or for a physician referral, please call the Cancer HelpLine at (800) 882-4123 or (813) 870-4123.