Colon cancer doesn’t come overnight. But the first signs are uncharacteristic and there is no pain, so the symptoms are easily dismissed as a mood disorder. The fact that there are no reliable early symptoms of colon cancer makes early detection all the more important.
Colon cancer: symptoms
In colon cancer, unspecific symptoms often appear at first, such as for example:
- an indefinite reduction in performance
- increased fatigue
- pale skin
- sudden weight loss for no reason
- possible light fever
- unusually strong night sweats
All these general symptoms are uncharacteristic, but may already be the first signs of developing colorectal cancer. Since they are too ambiguous, they are usually not correctly evaluated and the colorectal cancer has time to develop further.
3 Typical warning signals for colorectal cancer
The first signs of colorectal cancer, which must serve as a typical warning signal and should give cause to visit the doctor without further delay, are:
- visible blood in the stool
- changes in stool habits, especially changes between diarrhoea and constipation, but also a more frequent urge to stool and a rotten, pungent stool odour
- recurrent abdominal pain and flatulence, especially with accompanying stool discharge
Signs of colorectal cancer in the rectum
In a british study of 5,500 colorectal cancer patients, repeated intestinal bleeding and changes in stool habits proved to be the most conclusive signs of colorectal cancer. Nevertheless, it is never possible to say: no blood, therefore no bowel cancer.
Since blood admixtures in the stool often also occur in haemorrhoids, blood deposits should not simply be dismissed, but an in-depth examination for intestinal cancer should also be carried out if haemorrhoids are present at the same time.
If the colon cancer is located in the rectum, it often causes painful bowel movements and blood deposits mixed with mucus. If the tumour already narrows the rectum, the result is a so-called “pencil stool” and involuntary stool and wind loss. Especially in the case of an intestinal tumour on the right side, a hardening can occasionally be felt.
Using early detection of colon cancer as an opportunity
It wasn’t supposed to come to that. The aim of early detection of colorectal cancer is to detect and remove colorectal cancer at an early stage when it has not yet caused any symptoms. Bowel cancer is 100 percent curable if detected early.
And there are good possibilities: Colon cancer develops slowly; it takes about five to ten years for a preliminary stage – a benign adenoma – to develop into a malignant tumour through continued genetic alterations.
Preventive examinations for the early detection of colorectal cancer
More than 90 percent of colorectal cancers develop on the basis of a pre-existing adenoma, which can be detected and removed very well in advance during a colonoscopy.
From the age of 50, the risk of developing bowel cancer increases rapidly. Statutorily insured persons are entitled to the following preventive examinations within the framework of early detection of colorectal cancer from this age:
- From the age of 50 until the age of 54, an annual stool examination for hidden blood and a palpation examination of the rectum.
- From the age of 55, there is a choice between a total of two colonoscopies every ten years or a stool examination for hidden blood every two years.
Preventive medical check-ups are used not enough
If there is a family risk of bowel cancer or an increased risk due to a chronic inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, depending on the type of risk, bowel cancer screening should be started much earlier. Since 2002, the Felix Burda Foundation has proclaimed the month of March to be the month of colorectal cancer in order to intensively draw the attention of the population to this topic again and again.
Unfortunately, the screening for early detection of colon cancer is still far too little used by those entitled. Only 34 percent of women and 17 percent of men take the opportunity to prevent bowel cancer from developing at an early stage.
Can aronia berries protect against colon cancer?
In colon cancer there are concrete study results for the effect of aronia berries, however so far only from animal experiments and test tube investigations. They have shown that the intestinal cancer cells are affected by the extract.
Apparently fewer colon cancer cells
In some surveys, fruit extracts from blueberries, blue grapes and aronia were compared. The aronia berries performed best. The growth of intestinal cancer cells decreased by 50% after 48 hours. Healthy intestinal cells, on the other hand, were hardly affected.
Another study result: Apparently, a certain enzyme (COX-2 = cyclooxygenase-2), which may play a role in the formation of tumours, can be slowed down by aronia extracts from fresh aronia berry. (Aronia Berry Blog, Vittorio Andreozzi in Edmonton, Canada)