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Age, race, gender, environment, diet and genetics are causative factors in the development of colon cancer, according to About.com, as are obesity, not getting enough exercise, smoking and polyps. Drinking alcohol can also place a person at risk of contracting this type of cancer.


Colon cancer symptoms include a change in bowel habits such as diarrhea or constipation as well as a change in the consistency of an individual's stool, explains Mayo Clinic. Individuals with any colon cancer symptoms should consult their doctors, and individuals above the age of 50 should schedule


Symptoms of black stool cancer, or bowel cancer, include bloody stools, a change in bowel habits, weight loss and a cancerous lump, reports Cancer Research UK. An abnormally low level of red blood cells, or anemia, may be present as well.


A physician sometimes orders blood tests to determine if a patient has colorectal cancer or to help monitor the disease after diagnosis, according to the American Cancer Society. If those tests show signs that the patient could have colorectal cancer, the patient undergoes testing that more accurate


Tests that a doctor can perform if symptoms of colon cancer are present include a colonoscopy, fecal occult blood tests to check for blood in the stool, and imaging tests such as a CT scan, according to WebMD. Additional colon cancer screenings are a double-contrast barium enema and a sigmoidoscopy.


Small, hard stools are indicative of a wide range of medical and dietary conditions, but they are not the cause of cancer, according to Doctor Oz. The shape, size, color and odor of human stool can suggest the presence of several gastrointestinal conditions, including colorectal cancer.


Many people do not experience any symptoms when colon cancer is in early stages, according to Mayo Clinic. The presence and severity of symptoms depends on where the cancer is located in the colon. A change in bowel habits or blood in the stool are often warning signs.


There are five major stages of colon cancer: 0, I, II, III and IV. Stages II through IV are also divided into substages that indicate how the cancer has spread within each stage, according to the National Cancer Institute.


Stage IV colon cancer is when the cancer has spread through the lymph nodes and the blood to other parts of the body, such as the lung, liver, ovaries or abdominal wall, according to the National Cancer Institute. Stage IV colon cancer is composed of stage IVA and stage IVB.


Persistent abdominal pain, sometimes associated with gas or cramps, may occur in patients with colon cancer, states Mayo Clinic. In the early stages of the disease, there are often no symptoms. When symptoms occur, they vary depending on the size of the cancer and its location within the large intes