What Are Early Signs and Symptoms of Intestinal Cancer?


Quick Answer

Early signs and symptoms of intestinal cancer can include black or bloody stools, diarrhea, a mass in the abdomen and pain in the abdomen, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The pain may come and go and be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The person may also experience unexplainable weight loss.

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Early symptoms of intestinal cancer can also be silent or vague, explains Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Sometimes, the tumor is found when the patient sees her doctor for other maladies. Abdominal pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting is a medical emergency. This may mean the tumor has grown large enough to obstruct the bowel. Pain and vomiting can also mean the tumor has grown through the bowel, and its contents have invaded the abdominal cavity.

Intestinal cancer can be diagnosed through an upper gastrointestinal series, which includes a barium enema, endoscopic treatment, CT scan and enteroclysis, states Cancer Treatment Centers of America. During the barium enema, the patient drinks a barium solution and a technician takes X-rays as the solution travels down the GI tract. During enteroclysis, the barium solution is passed through the patient's mouth or nose via a tube. Endoscopic treatments use a lighted tube attached to a video monitor to examine the GI tract. The CT scan is like an X-ray but produces three-dimensional images of the bowel.

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