© Provided by Best Life
In tragic news, it was announced this morning that Chadwick Boseman, who rose to fame as the star of Black Panther, died on Friday evening after a four-year battle with colon cancer. As fans grieve the loss of this iconic actor, also known for playing pivotal black figures like Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, and James Brown, what particularly stings is the unfairness of his young age: Boseman was just 43.
A statement released via the actor’s Instagram account shared that Boseman learned in 2016 that he had Stage III colon cancer—a diagnosis with a daunting 40 percent survival rate. Despite “countless surgeries and chemotherapy,” the statement explains that his cancer progressed to Stage IV over the following four years.
Boseman’s sad and untimely death is a wakeup call to many for whom colorectal cancer is at best an afterthought, and at worst a taboo. That’s why we’re sharing the seven signs of colon cancer you should never ignore: knowing the symptoms and seeing a doctor for routine screening are your two best tools for avoiding a late-stage cancer diagnosis.
1. A persistent change in your bowel habits
Though changes in your bowel habits could be the result of dietary or lifestyle changes, you’ll want to take notice if they persist over time. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Constipation or diarrhea that lasts longer than a week may indicate the presence of a large colon polyp,” which can develop into cancer on the inner lining of the colon.
2. Abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
You may experience cramps or gas after eating something that doesn’t agree with you, but if the pain is severe and persistent, your body could be trying to alert you to something far more dangerous. Many colon cancer patients also experience bloating and discomfort brought on by eating.
3. Rectal bleeding or bright red blood in your stool
If you notice blood in your stool, this could be a telltale sign of colon cancer. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), “Colorectal cancers can often bleed into the digestive tract. Sometimes the blood can be seen in the stool or make it look darker, but often the stool looks normal.” If you notice this symptom, ACS recommends having a blood test, which can reveal a low red blood cell count in early stages of the cancer’s development.
4. A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
If you regularly feel that the need to empty your bowels isn’t relieved by actually going, this could be a sign of colon cancer. Some patients describe feeling as though their bowels don’t empty completely, and note that it takes longer for them to go.
5. Weakness or fatigue
Polyps can cause internal bleeding in the colon, which can ultimately lead to fatigue and weakness, according to the American Cancer Society. As WebMD points out, “Cancer-related fatigue is one of the most common side effects of colorectal cancer and its treatment. It is not predictable by tumor type, treatment, or stage of illness. Usually, it comes on suddenly, does not result from activity or exertion, and is not relieved by rest or sleep.” If you notice weakness or fatigue paired with any other symptoms on this list, ask your doctor about having a screening.
6. Unexplained weight loss
Unexpected and unexplained weight loss can be a sign of various types of cancer. In particular, this symptom may point to colon cancer because polyps can affect the way your body metabolizes food, making it harder to keep weight on. Blockages in the colon can also interfere with digestion, and the resulting discomfort may lead to a decrease in food intake.
7. Changes in stool color or consistency
OK, so it’s unpleasant to talk about, but knowing these signs could literally save your life! Those with colon cancer often notice changes in their stool, including darkened color (usually the result of blood entering the digestive tract), softened consistency, or a more “narrow” shape. If you notice any prolonged changes, be sure to talk to your doctor about screening for colon cancer.
Article by Lauren Gray for BestLife