What are the symptoms of rectal cancer?

Rectal cancer may not have any symptoms initially, but as it continues to grow, the rectum may narrow and changes in bowel movements may occur. If the tumor starts to bleed, blood may be seen in the stool. Pain may develop in the lower abdomen and pelvis and other nonspecific symptoms such as weight loss may occur.

Common symptoms of rectal cancer

Symptoms of rectal cancer include:

  • Abdominal bloating or cramping
  • Bloody stool (the blood may be red, black, or tarry in texture)
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Lower abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Pain or difficulty having a bowel movement, or incomplete emptying of the bowel
  • Sensation of fullness of the bowel
  • Thin stool
  • Unexplained weight loss

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

Rectal cancer can lead to serious complications, some of which can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have significant rectal bleeding. Seek prompt medical care for any of the following symptoms:

  • Bloody stool (the blood may be red, black, or tarry in texture)
  • Pencil-thin stool
  • Persistent changes in bowel movements
  • Persistent full sensation in the bowels
  • Unexplainable fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
INTRODUCTION

What is rectal cancer?

Rectal cancer starts in the rectum, the last portion of the colon, or large intestine. The rectum is located in the pelvis, and is where stool is stored until it is emptied through the anus. About 40,000 people are diagnosed with rectal cancer each year in the United States (Source: Read more about rectal cancerintroduction

CAUSES

What causes rectal cancer?

Cancer occurs when abnormal cells reproduce in an uncontrolled fashion. It is not known what causes this to occur, although risk factors have been identified for several cancers including rectal cancer.... Read more about rectal cancercauses

TREATMENTS

How is rectal cancer treated?

Treatment of rectal cancer begins with seeking regular medical care throughout your life. Regular medical care allows a health care professional to provide early screening tests. Regular medical care also provides an opportunity for your health care professional to promptly evaluate symptoms and your risks for developing rectal cancer.... Read more about rectal cancertreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

More Information on Cancer

This Article is Filed Under: Cancer