There are no symptoms during the early stages of colon cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. For this reason, the ACS recommends doctors screen men and women for this disease when they reach age 50. Those with a family history of this cancer begin screenings at an earlier age.
The symptoms of colon cancer can include unintentional weight loss, stomach pain, dark stools and fatigue. Bowel movement abnormalities may also occur, such as constipation, diarrhea or stool narrowing, but these symptoms can be attributed to other issues, according to the ACS. Individuals with these symptoms should consult a doctor to determine the cause.
It is generally easier to treat colon cancer before it has had the chance to spread, states the ACS. Screening can detect pre-cancerous polyps before symptoms have a chance to develop, and the growths can be removed. How often a person is screened for colon cancer depends on the type of test being performed but is usually every five or 10 years.
Treatment for colon cancer may consist of radiation, chemotherapy, surgery or a combination of all three. It may also include other types of therapy. Most treatments performed in the early stages of colon cancer are successful, and 90 percent of patients go on to live for five years or longer, according to the ACS.