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What Are Colon Cancer Symptoms?

Getting a Handle on Colon Cancer Symptoms
Colon cancer symptoms aren't always obvious, but you can learn what these symptoms look and
feel like. Understanding colon cancer symptoms is important, because you can use this
knowledge to work with your doctor to find out the cause and take care of your long-term health.

What is the Colon?
In order to understand what colon cancer symptoms might feel like, it helps to learn a bit about
the colon. The colon is an important part of the digestive system, and as such, it has a major role
in helping the body absorb nutrients, minerals, and water. The colon also helps rid the body of
waste in the form of stool. The colon makes up the majority of the large intestine, approximately
six feet in length. The last six inches or so of the large intestine are the rectum and the anal canal.

What are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer can have many symptoms. However, in the early stages, people with colon cancer
often have no symptoms at all. This is why regular screening beginning at 50 is an important
investment in your healthy future.
Colon cancer symptoms come in two general varieties:
1. Local
2. Systemic
Local Colon Cancer Symptoms

Local colon cancer symptoms affect your bathroom habits and the colon itself. Some of the more
common local symptoms of colon cancer include:

Changes in your bowel habits, such as bowel movements that are either more
or less frequent than normal

Constipation (difficulty having a bowel movement or straining to have a
bowel movement)

Diarrhea (loose or watery stools)

Intermittent (alternating) constipation and diarrhea

Bright red or dark red blood in your stools or black, dark colored, "tarry"

Stools that are thinner than normal ("pencil stools") or feeling as if you
cannot empty your bowels completely

Abdominal (midsection) discomfort, bloating, frequent gas pains, or cramps

If you experience any of these for two or more weeks, call your doctor right away to discuss your
concerns and arrange for tests to get to the bottom of your symptoms.

Systemic Colon Cancer Symptoms
Systemic colon cancer symptoms are those that affect your whole body, such as weight loss, and

Unintentional weight loss (losing weight when not dieting or trying to lose weight)

Loss of appetite

Unexplained fatigue (extreme tiredness)

Nausea or vomiting

Anemia (low red blood cell count)

Jaundice (yellow color to the skin and whites of the eyes)

If you experience any of these for any length of time, even a few days, call your doctor right
away to discuss your concerns and arrange for tests to get to the bottom of your symptoms.
What Should I Do if I Have Colon Cancer Symptoms?

Call your doctor so he or she can set up an appointment to see you. During the appointment your
doctor will take a medical history, collect blood samples for testing, and schedule you for followup tests, if needed.
Many people are afraid of colon cancer screening. They worry that it will hurt and that it is
embarrassing. Your doctor and nurse have performed hundreds, and in some cases even
thousands, of these procedures. There is nothing to be embarrassed about and remember: Even
your doctor and nurse undergo these same tests to take care of their own health.
Preparing for Colon Cancer Tests

If you are worried about preparing for your colon cancer tests, ask your doctor about how best to
get ready for any procedures. There are different medications for clearing your colon of stool to
ensure a good screening. There is no reason to suffer in silence!

Diagnosis of Colon Cancer and How Not to Dread Colon Cancer Screening provide detailed
information on screening procedures, plus tips on how to make preparing for these tests easier.

Bowel Movement Changes Can Be a Symptom of Colon
Bowel movement changes typically aren't something you'd discuss at the dinner table, but you
should be aware of why this is an important topic. Changes in how often you are going to the
bathroom, and whether or not you experience constipation or diarrhea regularly, are important
clues to what's going on inside your digestive tract.

What "changes in bowel movements" means can vary from person to person. For example, if it is
normal for a person to have three bowel movements per day, and he or she is having only one per
day, or one every other day, this may signal constipation. On the other hand, another person's
typical bowel pattern may be to have a bowel movement every other day. In this case, having one
bowel movement per day may be unusually frequent, and it may signal a change in typical bowel
As such, it's a good idea to know what's normal for you. You certainly don't need to keep a
detailed record of your bathroom habits, but if you notice a change from what is typical for you,
pay attention. If the changes only last a short time, or you know the reason for the change (say,
you've been sick or you ate something that doesn't agree with you), you don't need to worry.
On the other hand, if you experience changes in bowel habits that last for more than a few weeks,
or if you struggle with chronic constipation, chronic diarrhea, or intermittent constipation or
diarrhea, you should make an appointment to see your doctor sooner, rather than later.
Changes in bowel habits can have many causes ranging from the not-so-serious to the very
serious. You don't want to ignore these changes. If they signal something serious, such as colon
cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, the sooner you get a diagnosis the better. With colon
cancer, for example, if it is diagnosed in the earliest stages, survival rates are well over 90%. If
the cancer is more advanced, and has spread beyond the colon, survival rates drop dramatically.
If you notice changes in your bowel habits, waiting to find out why is not a good idea. You may
be scared about the possibility of having colon cancer, but finding out now is the best way to take
care of yourself and get the medical care you need. In the overwhelming majority of cases, you
will find out that you do not have colon cancer and that something far less serious is causing
your symptoms.

Common Causes of Constipation The three most common underlying causes of constipation are:  Too much water is absorbed from the waste as it passes through the colon. include:  Not eating enough dietary fiber  Not drinking enough water and other liquids  Lack of exercise  Ignoring the urge to defecate until a more convenient time  Stopping a laxative after using one frequently . Anything that changes the colon's ability to regulate the amount of water in stool or that affects the muscles and nerves of the colon that are responsible for moving waste toward the rectum and anus can lead to constipation. may be scheduled to help your doctor diagnose you and make recommendations for treatment. What feels like constipation to one person may be normal for another. dry stools. such as a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy.A screening exam. resulting in hard. The colon (large intestine) controls the formation and passage of stool from the body. the body's solid waste.  There are changes in the colon's ability to coordinate the muscle contractions needed to pass the stool to the rectum and anus. "garden-variety" constipation that many people experience from time to time. causing stool to become "stuck. What Is Constipation? Constipation is a decrease in the frequency of bowel movements or difficulty in the formation or passing of stool. There are a variety of reasons why one of these three things can occur and lead to constipation. such as a tumor."  The colon is blocked by something. Common causes of occasional. The colon absorbs water out of the solid waste and moves the waste to the rectum and anus.

for example. particularly some chemotherapy drugs and those used for pain (opiates). or in the rectum. But it is better to err on the side of caution and get it checked out. can make it difficult for stool to pass by. nausea and depression Constipation As a Symptom of Cancer When stool enters the colon. See Your Doctor If. and has spread beyond the colon. it becomes thicker. leading to constipation. may be scheduled to help your doctor find the cause of your symptoms. the sooner you get a diagnosis the better. In many cases. As it progresses through the colon and more water is removed. A tumor in the middle to lower portions of the colon. With colon cancer. If you notice changes in your bowel habits. you can educate yourself so you know what to expect and don't have to dread your screening test. you will find out that you do not have colon cancer and that something less serious is causing your constipation. Using certain medications. If the cancer is more advanced..  Three or more days have passed since your last bowel movement.. two days if you have used a laxative  You see blood in or on your stool  You have persistent cramps or severe abdominal or rectal pain  You are vomiting in association with severe constipation  You are frequently or regularly constipated What is a Colonoscopy? Colonoscopy Examinations are an Important Part of Your Health Care Among the many tests used to screen for colon cancer is the colonoscopy. . If you are nervous about getting screened. This inhibits its ability to get around blockages and narrow areas. talk to your doctor. survival rates are well over 90%. Finding the Cause of Your Symptoms A screening exam. If you suffer from chronic or intermittent constipation. survival rates drop dramatically. if it is diagnosed in the earliest stages. it is a thick liquid that can flow around partial blockages or through narrow areas. such as a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy.

this is rare. or knock you out. talk to your doctor. This clears the stool out of your colon so your doctor can see everything clearly during the test. may turn into colon cancer. growths in the colon that if left untreated. but it uses a longer instrument and lets your doctor see your whole colon. either.What is a Colonoscopy? A colonoscopy is a test that doctors use to look for and remove adenomas and polyps. such as a colon puncture. your doctor inserts a long. Air or water will be put into your colon. your doctor or nurse will give you instructions for the day or two before. to allow for a better view. This makes this test much easier than most people imagine. as well. call your doctor. This test is also used to screen for colon cancer itself. during the procedure. This is the advantage of a colonoscopy over a sigmoidoscopy—no part of your colon is left unexplored. thin tube into your rectum and the full length of your colon. What Happens Next? If your doctor finds any suspicious growths. he or she will remove them at that time. . A colonoscopy is similar to a sigmoidoscopy. What Happens During the Test? During a colonoscopy. If you have concerns about serious complications. What are the Possible Complications of Colonoscopy? A possible complication of this test is puncture of the colon. This means you won’t feel a thing and you won’t remember the procedure. This colon tissue sample will be sent to a lab to check for cancer. but this is usually not serious. This will involve taking laxatives or other medications and possibly a special diet. along with tips for making this preparation easier. Will I Be Sedated? Your doctor will sedate you. You may have some gas pains or cramps after the test until the air leaves your colon. But most people find the test itself to be easy. If in doubt. How Do You Prepare for a Colonoscopy? To prepare for this test. because they don’t remember it! You may see blood in your stool for a day or two after the test. How Not to Dread Colon Cancer Screening provides detailed information on how to get ready for this test. but thankfully.

The only way to definitively tell if the abnormality is cancerous is by extracting tissue and taking a look at it under a microscope. liver or pelvis. especially blood thinners. The most common way to obtain a biopsy of the colon is through a colonoscopy. and the entire process takes about one hour. The colonoscopy uses a lighted probe. he or she may order a CT-guided biopsy. However. A CT-guided biopsy. blood in stool) were found during another screening test (double contrast barium enema or fecal occult blood tests). . or an enema to cleanse the inside of your colon. This type of biopsy is most frequently ordered when masses are found outside of the colon. CT-Guided Versus Colonoscopy There are different approaches to the biopsy procedure. such as cancerous or pre-cancerous cells. Talk to your doctor if you are diabetic or take prescription medications. is completed in the CT room at the hospital or clinic. Your doctor may order a combination of liquid laxatives. to visualize the interior of your colon. the doctor can extract tissues during that same test. The doctor uses the CT scanner to pinpoint the abnormal area. inserts a needle into the mass in question. you will be scheduled for a colonoscopy. This flexible probe allows the passage of specialized instruments that can retrieve (clip) a sample of tissue from your colon for the biopsy. The doctor is looking for abnormal tissues. and extracts tiny tissue samples. including those in the lungs. You can go back to work the same day.just because your doctor ordered a biopsy does not mean you have cancer.What is a Colon Biopsy? A colon biopsy is an exam that tests tissue samples from your colon. If irregularities (tumors. called a colonoscope. Why Biopsies are Ordered Your doctor found an irregularity in one of your colon cancer screening exams. also called a needle or CT-guided needle biopsy. if your doctor found abnormalities on your computed tomography (CT) scan that were not isolated in the colon. suppositories. Keep in mind –. won’t need sedation. your doctor will order a colonoscopy to take the biopsy. masses. which are dependent on where the irregular tissues were found. If the irregular tissues are confined to your colon. If abnormalities were found during a sigmoidoscopy or a colonoscopy. Preparing for Your Colon Biopsy The colonoscopy preparation requires a complete bowel preparation prior to the procedure. This cleansing procedure makes the lining of your colon visible by flushing out fecal matter and fluids in the large intestine. as your doctor may have special orders for you prior to the exam.

Discuss any prescription or over-the-counter medications with your doctor prior to the procedure. therefore. dizziness or notice blood in your stools following the biopsy. Do not hesitate to contact your doctor if you develop a fever. The potential risks of a colon biopsy include:  Bleeding  Infection  Bowel perforation  Hospitalization  Postpolypectomy syndrome  Failed colonoscopy  Complications from weaning off of blood thinners prior to exam  Complications from anesthesia If you have a complex medical history or are elderly. A nurse or staff member from the hospital or clinic may call you to review instructions prior to your procedure. Due to the sedation. chills. However. you will be sedated for the colonoscopy and biopsy. Your doctor will discuss the risks versus the benefits with you before the procedure. What Will Happen? Will it Hurt? In all likelihood. Following the procedure. Your judgment is considered officially impaired for 24 hours following sedation (don’t sign any legal documents. the sooner you learn if you have colon cancer. which may cause some cramping and passing gas. your risk factors may increase. a colon biopsy is not devoid of risks. either). even if you feel up to it. Air was inserted into your colon during the procedure. you shouldn't feel a thing.Potential Complications and Risks Like any medical procedure. where the staff will monitor you until you are awake and alert. Be sure to ask questions if the procedure details are not clear. the sooner you can begin treatment. you will not be allowed to drive yourself home. Waiting for Results . shaking. abdominal pain. you will be taken to a recovery area.

the report will display the cancer type (adenocarcinoma is the prevalent colon cancer type). Getting Your Results Once your doctor receives your biopsy result from the pathologist. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor and nurses questions at any point along the way. and will help your doctor decide the staging and grade of your cancer.type of cells found. Making the leap from symptoms or a family history to a diagnosis .Immediately following your biopsy. The doctor will want to discuss your results in person –.not over the phone or by email. The report describes if the tissues obtained were normal or cancerous. the surgeon will send the extracted piece of bowel to the pathologist. the tissue sample is shipped off to the pathologist. A pathologist is a special M. What the Pathology Report Says Your doctor has the medical background and training to explain your pathology report to you. who will then determine how far the cancer spread into healthy tissues. The medical professionals are there to assist you.  Invasion -– If your tissue was taken during surgery for colon cancer. If you do not already have an appointment to discuss these results. The pathologist will need time to examine your tissue sample thoroughly. check. such as normal (benign) or malignant (cancerous). check.but that doesn't mean you have colon cancer. he or she will call you. bloating. Although the wait may produce some severe anxiety. The grade explains how mutated the tissues are (are they somewhat similar to regular colon tissue. ask your doctor when you can expect results. it is better to sit down and talk with your doctor about results face-to-face. If malignant. Fullness.D. not identifiable at all.  Grade -– This is what the doctor uses to stage your cancer. Preferably before the procedure (as you may not remember afterwards). or some grade in between). You could potentially have every symptom indicative of colon cancer -. Diagnosis of Colon Cancer Do you have blood in your stool? Check. and then he or she will construct a pathology report. The pathologist’s report will include:  Where the lesion(s) were located -– anatomically in the colon  Histology –. He or she will be able to give you a ballpark figure and encourage you to make a follow-up appointment. one will be scheduled for you at this time. and excess gas? Check. (medical doctor) who examines tissues and blood under a microscope.

he or she can provide support and another set of ears. . Consider bringing a family member or trusted friend to this visit -. lighted probe with a camera. followed by more tests to identify if the cancer is localized in the colon or if it has spread (metastasized) to other areas in your body. your doctor will schedule a diagnostic workup for colon cancer. The doctor may also collect a stool sample for a fecal occult blood or immunochemical test. What to Expect at Your Initial Visit Following a positive screening exam or the presence of concerning symptoms. without the presence of any symptoms. to be given orally. sigmoidoscopies or during a CT scanguided needle biopsy. the doctor may also order a carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test. carefully examines the tissue samples. which identify trace amounts of blood in the stool. If you have a history of cancer.  Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy are procedures that use a small. Contrast agents make your colon more visible -. magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It's Colon Cancer. which can help identify if tumors have returned.requires tests to verify the presence of cancerous cells. Now What? You will be asked to come back to the doctor's office to discuss your test results and diagnosis. If the doctor finds polyps or unhealthy tissues in your colon. These tests are usually painless and can include x-rays. such as a colonoscopy. The doctor may order a contrast agent. clotting times (especially if you take blood thinners) and an electrolyte turning on the lights when you enter a dark room. inserted through your rectum. Your doctor may order further testing. Ask your doctor when to expect results. such as barium. help your doctor form a picture of your general health.  Diagnostic imaging tests use different forms of x-rays to see your colon and surrounding tissues. or rectal ultrasounds. or a special doctor who can differentiate between cancerous and non-cancerous cells. A pathologist. A diagnosis of colon cancer may come as a complete surprise following a routine screening exam. Colon biopsies can be completed during colonoscopies. computed tomography (CT) scans.  A biopsy refers to any time the doctor takes a tiny sample of tissue from your body. Biopsy results can take from 72 hours up to a week for processing. rectally or in an intravenous line before the picture is taken. to see inside your colon and rectum. including a complete blood count. such as:  Blood tests. he or she can take a biopsy during the procedure. painless test allows the doctor to check your rectum for any growths or masses. He or she will obtain a thorough medical history and examination that may include a digital rectal exam. This simple.

also known as staging the cancer. the next step involves finding out if the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other parts of your body.Once a diagnosis of colon cancer is made. but is largely based on the grade and stage of the cancer and your overall physical health. or how abnormal the cancerous tissue appears compared to regular tissue. liver and the peritoneum. . Clinical staging is the process by which your doctor compares the test results with your physical presentation. the TNM system is the most widely used system for staging colon cancers. radiation or a combination of treatments. Treatment Plan Your doctor will work with you to form a treatment plan for the colon cancer. he or she can also determine how mutated those cells appear. are desirable in staging as they signify that the cancer is small and localized (in situ). The three letters are used to stage the size of the tumor (T). which may include surgery. chemotherapy. Your doctor may order a:  Chest x-ray to make sure your lungs are clear and free of metastasis  Abdominal ultrasound to see if the cancer has spread to sites in your abdomen. Lower numbers. such as the liver. Similar to staging. which is more accurate. Another term you will come across is called grading the tumor. which will describe the severity of your colon cancer. This process. such as a 0. spread to lymph nodes (N). will require a few more tests before you can move forward to treating the cancer. or the abdominal lining. These systems include:  American Joint Committee on Cancer Staging System (TNM)  Astler-Coller  Dukes Out of the three. and the extent of metastasis (M). stomach or peritoneum  Positron emission tomography (PET) scan to take a look for cancerous growths within your entire body Colon Cancer Staging Tools There are two ways to stage the spread and severity of cancer: clinical and pathological staging. Pathologic staging. whereas very mutated or high-grade cancers have a higher probability of spreading quickly. usually a number. uses three systems to represent the extent of disease progression. cancers with a lower grade (a more normal appearance) are usually found early and are easier to treat. Each letter is followed by a descriptor. The most common sites for colon cancer metastasis include the lungs. Your plan will be tailored for your specific needs. When the pathologist identifies cancerous cells.

People have been testing stool for occult blood for many years. or FOBT for short. and is also the gold standard in testing. You cannot eat anything that might mimic blood in the stool for a few days prior to the exam. but I'm fairly sure we will never get to do those at home. if you are prone to nose bleeds. FIT Once medical science recognized the limitations of the guaiac stool test.even in trace amounts -could signify a polyp or the presence of a tumor. Foods to avoid include:  Red meat (beef. You must also avoid taking any over-the-counter medications or supplements without first talking to your doctor. and quick screen that tests for microscopic blood in your stool. furthering the accessibility and options for colorectal cancer screening tests. which is also known as FIT. As of summer 2014 the DNA stool test was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and made available to the general public. I'm no scientist. This test also checks for trace amounts of blood in the stool. for colon cancer testing in the comfort of your home. The medical name is called guaiac. Science has made leaps and bounds towards making simple screening exams available. such as the fecal DNA test. Before you get too excited about this news I must clarify one major point: A colonoscopy remains the only definitive test used to check for colon cancer. testing your bowel movements for DNA was a futuristic concept. which may result in a false positive test. the FOBT has several drawbacks. It's a simple. but you might know it as the fecal occult blood test. Although it is a very good screening tool. a new test was developed called the fecal immunochemical test. FOBT Stool testing for colon cancer is not a new concept. you may accidentally swallow some of your own blood. Ibuprofen.Home Testing for Colon Cancer As recent as a decade ago. The presence of blood in the stool -. cheap. but it can more accurately detect human blood. wild game. . aspirin and even vitamin C supplements can alter your test results. lamb)  Raw broccoli  Radishes (to include horseradish) and turnips  Cantaloupe Likewise. venison.

and follow up with your doctor. you still need to visit your doctor and obtain a prescription for stool testing. There are no dietary or pharmaceutical restrictions prior to collecting samples for a FIT test. stool DNA testing has less false positive results that stool blood testing. made by Exact Sciences. However. Unlike the FOBT or FIT.suggesting you have either blood or cancerous DNA in your stool -. While there are many different manufacturers of stool guaiac and immunochemical tests. Your doctor will review your results with you and provide further recommendations for your care. Stool Testing Frequency Despite the release of the DNA stool test. Follow Up for Positive Results In most cases. Think of the stool tests as entry-level screening tools -they cannot definitively prove if you do or do not have colon cancer. Preventive Services Task Force encourages Americans to adhere to the standards released that encourage FOBT or FIT annually for people over 50 years and for anyone with a strong history (personal or familial) of colorectal cancers. Obtaining the Test Despite the fact that you can collect the stool samples and complete these tests from home. False positives can and do occur with any of the three stool tests. the U. but rather DNA markers indicative of a cancerous growth in the you get both types of stool test with one kit. Typically your doctor provides you with the materials to complete FOBT or FIT. there is only one brand of stool DNA test currently and that is Cologuard. Cologuard contains both a stool DNA and FIT test in each kit -. There are test result variances as well. a positive FOBT. The DNA stool test is similarly completed. However. . DNA There are a few major differences between fecal occult blood tests and stool DNA tests.and not just the steak you had last night for dinner. FIT or DNA test is cause for further colorectal cancer screening and typically will lead to a colonoscopy. the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have proposed coverage of the stool DNA test with a proposed frequency of every three years for people who meet testing criteria. except that the kit is mailed to your home.S. stool DNA testing does not check for blood. and you mail the results to the laboratory once the specimens are collected. Try not to panic if your stool test is positive -.the stool DNA test costs about 25 times more than a simple guaiac. The final difference is in cost -.

Educate yourself on which guidelines apply to you.What Are Current Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines? Question: What Are Current Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines? The guidelines for colon cancer screening are vitally important for preventing deaths.  You have no personal history of inflammatory bowel disease. familial adenomatous polyposis. such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. The American Cancer Society recommends the following: First. Are you at average or high risk? How do you know? You are at average risk if all of the following are true for you:  You have no family history of the disease. Yet only 1 out of 5 (just 20% of) doctors follow current colon cancer screening guidelines for their patients. such as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome). Answer: Colon cancer screening guidelines differ. juvenile polyposis or Peutz-Jeghers syndrome. Acceptable strategies for screening for precancerous polyps and colon cancer include:  Flexible sigmoidoscopy* every five years (sigmoidoscopy examines the lower part of the colon)  Colonoscopy every 10 years (colonoscopy is the most complete test and examines the entire length of the colon)  Double-contrast barium enema* once every five year  CT colonoscopy (virtual colonoscopy)* once every five years . consider your personal risk for colon cancer.  You have no personal history of colon polyps or adenomas or colon cancer. depending on an individual's risk for developing the disease. If you do not fall into any of the above categories.  There are no genetic conditions in your family that are linked to a higher colon cancer risk. colon cancer screening should begin at age 50 for men and women.

In addition to this. familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). The above tests are preferred over the ones below.  There are genetic conditions in your family that are linked to a higher colon cancer risk. Most gastroenterologists feel that a regular colonoscopy is still the best test for preventing colon cancer. such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.  You have a personal history of colon polyps or adenomas or colon cancer. If any of these describe you. you likely need to begin colon cancer screening earlier than age 50. your first step is to talk with your doctor to determine which colon cancer screening schedule is best for you. siblings. ask your doctor how often you may need this test Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines for People at Higher Colon Cancer Risk If you are at above average risk for colon cancer. and especially if that relative was under age 50 at the time of diagnosis. particularly in a first-degree relative (parents. juvenile polyposis (JP) and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS). children). you should familiarize yourself with the detailed colon cancer screening recommendations for people at increased or high risk from the American Cancer Society.*If any of the marked tests are abnormal (shows a polyp or other growth) a full colonoscopy should be performed. recommended frequency varies. which can only detect colon cancer. You have a higher-than-average risk for colon cancer if any of the following are true:  You have a family history of colon cancer. You also may need to be screened more often than someone at average risk. How Reliable are DNA Stool Tests? Question: How Reliable are DNA Stool Tests? . not precancerous polyps:  Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test every year  Stool DNA test. such as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).  You have a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease. Keep in mind that the guidelines change as technology changes.

Is this true? If so. originally couldn't reliably identify colon cancer cells in the stool samples and had a very low . Snakes shed skins. or embarrassing doctor’s visits. with a positive meaning that there is the presence of DNA suggesting cancer in your colon. you may have seen the key words "sensitivity" and "specificity" mentioned. Despite these new. Unlike other stool sampling tests. and a negative meaning no cancerous DNA was found. which have been evolving for the last decade. but the accuracy of these tests still isn't perfect. it's the most sensitive test for colon cancer to date. while the patient is sedated). can find cancerous and precancerous growths in your large intestine. Your colon sheds dead tissues along with food waste in each bowel movement. DNA stool tests can identify these shed cells as colon tissue versus food particles. This test. are constantly regenerated. So far. If your colonoscopy is positive for growths that can soon become cancerous. the DNA stool test might not even pick up their presence. stool DNA tests are most likely to only detect cancer once it has formed — not when it is still in the precancerous stage. As cells die. your doctor can remove them before they get the chance to mutate. they're not yet approved by the FDA. the cells are then chemically altered to see if they contain certain genes identifiable with the types of colon cancer. and they're not in routine clinical use. Sensitivity correlates to the test's ability to pick up the microscopic traces of shed DNA in the stool. trees get new leaves. this test requires a complete stool sample. which is the main reason that. which means that there is a chance for falsepositive and false-negative results. These tests. and you do not have to touch or manipulate your stool at all.I've heard that there is a test that can tell you if you have colon cancer without any tubes. You simply return the collected sample to your doctor for processing. they are dispersed throughout your bowel movements and replaced by healthy. Sensitivity Versus Specificity If you've followed studies on DNA stool testing. and certain cells in your body. such as your skin cells. Your results are either positive or negative. The innermost lining of your large intestine is routinely shed. new cells. even if you do not eat or drink anything. the golden standard for colon cancer diagnosis remains the endoscopic colonoscopy. how accurate are the tests? Answer: There are DNA stool tests that can detect the presence of colon cancer using only your fullyformed bowel movement. although invasive (a tube with a camera on the end is inserted through the anus to visually inspect the colon. And though like any test it's not 100 percent accurate. How Do The Tests Work? Every living organism has a regeneration process that allows it to grow or maintain life. A collection tray is provided with the kit. such as the fecal occult blood test. But the tests are not yet 100 percent accurate. or ship it directly to the lab. needles. but in some cases. noninvasive tests. you will continue to make and pass stool.

 The test does not identify pre-cancerous growths that are typically removed during colonoscopy.9 percent were identified with fecal occult blood testing. such as the colonoscopy. If you are still interested in having this test. How Not to Dread a Colonoscopy . you will still need a colonoscopy to confirm. Specificity relates to the likelihood that a person without colon cancer will have negative test results. But more recent studies. studies show that a colonoscopy is twice as likely to find cancer in your colon as the DNA stool test.  If you have a positive result.  You can request (and pay for) the test on your own — you are not dependent upon the rules and screening guidelines set forth for more invasive tests. like one published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology in 2007. and more colon cancer cases are being caught by having yet another diagnostic tool available for people who cannot — or will not — have a routine colonoscopy.  It is not covered by Medicare or most private insurances. a test used to check for trace amounts of blood in the stool. whereas only 12. costing hundreds of dollars per sample. He or she can further discuss the benefits and drawbacks of this test and help you select a screening method suitable to your health and needs.sensitivity rate. 51. and most treatable. as well as one that can diagnose colon cancer in its earliest. showed a sensitivity of 52 percent and a specificity of 94 percent. talk to your doctor. stages.  The tests are still fairly expensive. showed that the DNA stool test was superior in colon cancer sensitivity. The cons of this test are counterpoint to the stated benefits:  Although the test is simple and painless. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that compared the fecal occult blood test. so there's no pain or downtime: it's as simple as sending off a complete stool sample and waiting for the results. and possibly remove and biopsy smaller growths. The pros of DNA stool testing for colon cancer are pretty obvious:  The test is non-invasive.6 percent of cancers were identified with DNA in the stool.  The sensitivity of these tests is improving dramatically. In this study.

As uncomfortable as the constant toilet trips may be. or a strong familial history of colon cancer. one of them has already had a colonoscopy. What? Will it hurt? The technical explanations and pre-procedural instructions were probably lost as you entertained an internal dialogue of questions. as they can stain the colon. positive test results. watery stools. Stay close to a bathroom. The doctor can find and possibly remove polyps or abnormal tissues before they have the chance to become cancerous.if they are over 50 years old. Your bowels must be squeaky clean to help the doctor see the lining clearly.You’re sitting in the pastel-walled examination room and your doctor just told you he wants to schedule a colonoscopy. like bloody bowel movements. or observable problems. Do I Have To? Look at the people around you –. enemas. you will probably be in there quite a bit. if your doctor prescribed this test. do not provide a definitive diagnosis. follow the preparation orders to the letter. and a clear liquid diet to induce bowel movements and clean out the colon. The doctor may order laxatives. Subjective symptoms. such as purple sports drinks or gelatin. If you want to breeze through the dreaded colonscopy prep. If your bowels are not cleaned out. You may have frequent. Routine screening colonoscopies find problems before they start. know this: Almost 60 percent of colon-cancer related deaths might have been avoided with early screening. ask your doctor these questions before you begin:  Can you prepare a couple days in advance or does the laxative solution need to be taken on the night before the procedure?  Can the solution be refrigerated? . such as chronic diarrhea. Colonoscopies are not without risk. Diagnostic colonoscopies are performed when there are symptoms. there is a chance you will have to repeat the procedure. do not eat or drink anything with red or purple food coloring. Before you toss your prep instructions in the trash and avoid making that appointment. If you are placed on a clear liquid diet. which can take up to 10 years. it was not ordered arbitrarily. Your doctor has ordered a colonoscopy as a routine screening exam or a diagnostic tool. Preparation The preparation for a colonoscopy cleans out your colon.

The procedural room may contain a couple television-like monitors. It is okay if you feel groggy. An intravenous catheter. such as commercial drink powders or sports drinks. while you are sedated for the procedure. Try taking deep breaths while the catheter is being put in to relieve discomfort. while the doctor advances the scope through the entire colon looking for unhealthy tissues. this feeling should pass shortly. but you may get to keep your socks on. Your nurse will continue to monitor you closely until you are safe to go home with a responsible adult. A flexible probe will be gently inserted into your rectum. This allows the nurse to monitor your wellbeing during the exam. Following the procedure. you may pass more gas than usual. The procedure will take approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Bring your wallet. It’s Over – What Now? . such as when to expect test results.that may help decrease the number of pokes you experience. You may also notice some bright red blood in your stool. The nurse will connect a blood pressure cuff on your arm. What to Expect on Test Day Arrange for someone to drive you home from the procedure and leave your jewelry and expensive items at home. and other assorted medical devices. Feel free to tell the nurse where your best veins are if you know -. which should pass shortly. You may feel pressure or an urge to bear down. Your nurse will obtain a written consent for the procedure. This helps prevent vomiting. to improve the taste? You may be instructed not to eat or drink four to six hours prior. this is a good opportunity to ask any remaining questions or concerns. Is it okay to add flavoring. so be sure they don't have holes. and electrodes on your chest. Recovery You may spend an hour or two in a recovery area while the sedative wears off. emergency equipment. You will be asked to remove your clothing and change into a hospital gown. this is a normal effect. a probe on your finger. you will need at least one form of identification to check in at the facility. inserted into your arm or hand. and possibly choking. which may be normal if the doctor took a tissue sample or removed polyps. as air was introduced into your colon during the procedure. will pinch a bit at first but is necessary for the medications to help keep you relaxed during the procedure.

vomiting. location or intensity of the pain lets he or she know if this needs to be investigated further now or if you can take a wait-and-watch approach. the majority of people deny any symptoms prior to getting diagnosed with colorectal cancer. you made it through this exam. Although the amount of questions may seem ridiculous. Be prepared to answer questions about the description of your pain -. how long it hurts for. Talking to Your Doctor Hopefully you've arranged an appointment to discuss this pain with your doctor. burning. Regardless of the cause. passing stool). cleansing breath. Are Chronic Stomach Pains a Sign of Colon Cancer? Chronic pain of any kind -. but it doesn't always signify a lifethreatening illness. bladder) or reproductive organs. your doctor will have a plan for you. or a general achy cramp? Also be ready to discuss the frequency that you hurt. or a clean bill of health and a promise of no more colonoscopies for five to 10 years.or pain that lasts longer than three months -. duration.can be an indication that something in your body is not working quite right. Whether it involves a referral to a specialist. You made it through the dreaded colonoscopy. During the Exam . you can make it through your next challenge as well. Actually. If the pains haven't abated in three months there is a very good chance they will not go away without medical intervention. or even from a problem with your blood supply or muscles in that area. your doctor has very good reason for the inquisition. urination) or makes the pain worse (standing. any type of chronic pain needs to be investigated by your doctor. The term stomach pain is a poor catchall phrase.Whatever your test results bring. he or she will ask many questions about your stomach pain. although it often gets labeled that way. a deep. You have many different organs in your abdomen. walking. Although most "stomach pains" are caused by a problem within your gastrointestinal system. When you go to see the doctor. or vent to loved ones. but another person may have long term pain in his or her belly caused by endometriosis. One person may suffer chronic pain in his or her lower back. Chronic "stomach pains" can be a sign of late colon cancer. Your doctor is gathering this detailed history because sometimes the type. and if there is anything that helps relieve the pain (passing stool. but it has been around it sharp and stabbing. but it is not all that common. perhaps from a herniated disc. Take a walk. and there is no way to be sure that your stomach is the culprit of any abdominal pains. abdominal pain can also arise from your genitourinary (kidneys.

Some of the most common causes include:  Cirrhosis  Gallstones  Crohn's disease or Ulcerative Colitis  Diverticulitis  Endometriosis  Irritable Bowel Syndrome  Ulcers  Pelvic Inflammatory Disease  Pancreatitis .or hands on -. it is important to bring an up to date medication list to your appointment. He or she will be looking at your abdomen to see if there are any unusual findings that support your complaints of pain including:  Bloating  Rigidity  Too loud or absent bowel sounds  Tenderness or pain with pressure  Any unusual masses or lumps Your doctor may also ask many questions that seem completely unrelated to "stomach pain" including questions about diet.During the physical -. What Could Be Causing It? There are literally dozens of reasons people suffer chronic abdominal pain. Make sure to include any over the counter or herbal supplements you might be taking as well. Sometimes. the chronic pain can be caused by nothing more than a medication interaction that can be quickly remedied but changing your prescriptions or stopping an over the counter supplement. weight loss and your menses (for women).portion of your exam the doctor is looking to complete the picture you provided with your pain and medical history. Likewise.

But it is not always a herald of colon cancer. in very rare cases. ranging from abrasive toilet paper to a large. Seeing blood in your bowel movement is very frightening. the treatment of your pain is dependent upon the cause. It should be noted that sometimes. the lining of the colon is very vascular and has a . or even computed tomography (CT) scans to find the cause of your pain. bleeding polyp. for example. painless. and carry very little risk. x-rays. Ask yourself these questions:  Was the blood in the stool. Treatment Since the etiology of abdominal pain is so diverse. Like the lining of your mouth or nose.)  Did you have to strain to pass the bowel movement?  How frequently do you have bowel movements?  Do you have other symptoms?  When was your last colon screening exam or colonoscopy?  Do you have a history of polyps or a family history of polyps? What Causes the Bleeding? Many things can cause blood in the stool. Rectal bleeding has many causes. your doctor will not be able to target a cause of the pain. The best action you can take now. but only one of them is colon cancer. to advocate for yourself.Your doctor may choose to encourage further testing. It is also an indication that something is not working right. is to pay attention to this symptom and be prepared to discuss it with your doctor. such as blood labs. The majority of these tests are very straightforward. Ulcerative colitis is treated far differently than endometriosis. Advice About Bright Red Blood in Stool Blood is supposed to stay in your body. a drop of blood in a toilet bowl will turn all of the water red. toilet bowl or on the toilet paper?  Was the blood bright red or dark red?  Approximately how much blood did you see? (Keep in mind.

During Your Doctor’s Visit Your doctor will complete a physical exam to look for any overt causes of the rectal bleeding (hemorrhoids. He or she may order tests to further investigate the cause. This is why fecal testing is suggested yearly. Pregnancy and straining on the toilet are two common causes of these swollen blood vessels. it is most likely from the left side of the colon (descending colon. Untreated bowel infections. such as irritable bowel disease (IBD). Anal intercourse can also cause these tiny fissures and rectal bleeding. You may or may not feel any associated discomfort with a hemorrhoid. Caught early. mostly benign problem. A smear of blood on the toilet paper may be nothing to worry about. The infection requires antibiotic therapy. called fissures. Constipation and straining to pass a large bowel movement can lead to smears of bright red blood on the toilet paper. Colon cancer can cause blood in the stool. sometimes the larger ones can bleed. uncomfortable tears in your anal tissues. sigmoid colon or rectum). Let your doctor know if you are straining to pass bowel movements. low-fiber diets and a lack of exercise can lead to constipation. If a tumor is bleeding to the point where you see the blood in your stool. such as Escherichia coli (E. the cancer may be at an advanced stage. which are easily treatable and may even resolve on their own. most cancers of the colon do not generate any symptoms. Hemorrhoids are a common. irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This straining can lead to tiny. Talk to your doctor. even if it is obvious. the doctor may want to check if your blood is too thin (runny) .healthy blood supply. Untreated polyps can lead to colon cancer. Most polyps are benign growths that do not stimulate any symptoms (hence the importance of routine colon screening). can cause bloody diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. Inflammatory processes in the colon. Crohn’s disease. ulcerative colitis or diverticular disease. but don’t take a chance. which may require a colonoscopy for investigation and removal of the polyp. coli can stem from eating undercooked meats or unpasteurized juice or dairy products. E. If the visible blood in your stool is from colon cancer. to catch cancer very early. The doctor might order a:  Complete blood count: Determines how much blood you may have lost. coli). They are the No. However. Not drinking enough water. can cause bright red or dark red blood in the stools. 1 cause of bright red blood smears on the toilet paper. Colon polyps can and do bleed at times. especially following a colonoscopy or biopsy. Any blood from the right colon will merge with the stool and is probably undetectable to the human eye. anal abrasion) and obtain a medical history.  Clotting time: If you take anticoagulants (blood thinners). He or she will help you discover the cause.

but this is less common. Cancer cells typically grow more rapidly than other body cells. How Does Chemotherapy Work? Many chemotherapy medications target fast-growing cells. you notice large amounts of blood or have foul-smelling stools with a coffee-grain appearance.  Sigmoidoscopy – Similar to a colonoscopy. as needed. such as surgery and radiation therapy. Unfortunately. your doctor will discuss the findings with you.  X-rays: Films of the lower intestinal tract may show any large deformities of the colon. Your doctor will have to find – and stop – the cause of the bleeding. potentially order further testing if abnormalities are found or develop a treatment plan. This means chemotherapy will affect cancer cells more than most other cells in the body. Other forms of chemotherapy are taken orally. bleeding polyps from the lining of the colon. Following the test(s). including the sigmoid colon and the rectum. some of our normal healthy cells do grow and divide . How is Chemotherapy Used to Treat Colon Cancer? Chemotherapy can be an effective way to manage colon cancer. as a pill. Some of these medications are given intravenously (into a vein).  Colonoscopy: Uses a scope to take a look inside the colon. Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT): Checks for the presence of blood in the stool. and possibly remove. either alone or used together with other forms of treatment. but allows the doctor to see only the final portion of the colon. in an outpatient setting. When to Call the Doctor Now If the bleeding does not stop. What is Chemotherapy? The term chemotherapy covers a lot of different medications that are used to treat cancer. A few types of chemotherapy may require that you are admitted to the hospital for a day or two to receive them. you need to seek treatment right away. This test allows the doctor to see.

Fortunately. mouth sores. chemotherapy is given in cycles. nurse. too. Or you might take chemotherapy every day for one full week. and cells in the mouth. Talk to your doctor or nurse about options to help you get through treatment with minimum side effects. or dietitian about special diet guidelines for during chemotherapy. and digestive tract cells the most. with this pattern repeating for several months. meaning into your vein or intravenously (IV). Many side effects can be eliminated or at least minimized enough to allow you to continue the activities that matter most to you. If you talk to someone who went through chemotherapy 15 or even 10 years ago. diarrhea. How Do I Manage Chemotherapy Side Effects? The two most important things you can do to manage side effects of chemotherapy are to: 1. many cancer patients experience few major side effects. How is Chemotherapy Given? Typically. The schedule will depend on your cancer and the type of chemotherapy. too. throat. throat. Chemotherapy is given as an infusion. 2. Some forms of chemotherapy are taken as pills. there are many more medications today to manage chemotherapy side effects than in years past. you might take chemotherapy once a week for eight weeks. but some general diet guidelines include: . because it’s easier to prevent side effects than to treat them once they occur. and these are affected by chemotherapy. Take all of your medications as prescribed. For example. you may hear about these side effects and other "horrors" of cancer treatment. immune system. and low immune cell (blood) counts. You shouldn’t assume that because someone you know had a difficult experience with cancer treatment that you will. immune system cells. nausea. What are the Side Effects of Chemotherapy? Chemotherapy affects hair. You might take chemotherapy once a month for nine months. Keep the lines of communication open with your medical team. How your receive your chemotherapy will depend on the type of medications your doctors feel is best for treating your cancer. so common side effects include hair loss. followed by three weeks off. skin. So many medical advances have been made in recent years that other than hair loss. and digestive tract. What works to manage side effects for one person may not work for you. This includes hair and skin cells. mouth. Do I Need to Follow a Special Diet During Chemotherapy? You can ask your doctor. Don’t accept that feeling badly is a natural part of chemotherapy.rapidly as well.

herbs.  Avoid dry and crunchy food such as crackers. Some inherited genetic conditions -. in order to help your kidneys process the chemotherapy medications. Polyps can develop into colon cancers. Symptoms of Colon Polyps . People with a family history of these conditions need intensive colonoscopic screening (colonoscopies done on a regular basis) and surgical consultation. and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) -cause polyps to begin growing much earlier in life (sometimes as early as the teen years) and markedly increase the risk of colon cancer. and food served from bulk containers if your blood counts are low.  Avoid alcohol unless your medical team says it is OK to drink. dry cereal.  Avoid over-the-counter medications. or minerals unless your doctor. vitamins. such as citrus fruit and juice. and one that has a long stalk is called pedunculated.  Always use safe food handling practices in your home. or colon. about 8 cups per day. which is why they are typically removed during a colonoscopy. Peutz-Jeghers syndrome . Avoid raw or undercooked meat and eggs. Polyps Colon Polyps A colon polyp is a growth that occurs on the wall of the large intestine. Inherited Causes of Colon Cancer Polyps typically begin growing in the colon when a person is between the ages of 40 and 60 years.hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC [also known as Lynch syndrome]) . or dry toast if your mouth is sore. Polyps are common in people over the age of 40 and often grow slowly. if your mouth or throat is sore. Some polyps grow very slowly and can take as many as 10 years to turn cancerous. or dietitian has given you the OK to use them.  Avoid acidic food.  Always thoroughly wash or peel raw fruit and vegetables if you blood counts are low. A polyp that is flat in shape is called sessile. deli meats.  Drink plenty of water. dietary supplements. nurse.

polyps can go undetected until they are found during a colonoscopy or other test on the colon. polyps do not cause any symptoms.In most cases. and include:  A high-fat diet.  Obesity. Some of these risk factors include:  Age over 50 years.  Bleeding from the rectum. Peutz-Jeghers syndrome. Because they typically don't cause symptoms.  A family history of colon cancer. . exercising.  A history of cigarette smoking. Some rare genetic conditions can cause polyps to grow in younger people. and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). When polyps do cause symptoms. because of age or family history. are at increased risk of developing colon cancer. folic acid supplements. There is no one specific way to prevent developing colon polyps.  A personal history of cancer in the uterus or the ovaries. hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC [also known as Lynch syndrome]). and a daily low dose of aspirin may also protect against the development of polyps. People who have these disorders. even teenagers. Those at Risk for Colon Polyps Certain people are more at risk for developing polyps in their colon than others. but living a healthier lifestyle by eating properly. and not smoking or drinking may help.  Constipation or diarrhea that doesn't go away.  A history of drinking alcohol  A sedentary lifestyle.  A family history or personal history of polyps. Calcium. they can include:  Blood in the stool (black or red). Other risk factors for colon polyps are due to lifestyle.

These polyps are common. and villous adenoma (tubulovillous adenoma).except for patients in certain risk groups who need screening earlier and more frequently. They are commonly sessile. Villous Adenoma or Tubulovillous Adenoma. it does not have the opportunity to turn cancerous. it will be tested for cancer. Sessile polyps are more likely to turn cancerous than pedunculated polyps. which means that if it is left in place in the colon. If it is removed. How Polyps Cause Colon Cancer A polyp is a precancerous growth. such as during a colonoscopy. inflammatory. People who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Any hyperplastic polyps found in the colon would be removed and tested to ensure they are not cancerous. and especially those who have had ulcerative colitis for 10 years or more. which makes them more difficult to remove. Adenomatous or Tubular Adenoma. it may turn cancerous. Those who are at high risk for colon cancer because of a personal or family history of cancer are at higher risk and should be tested more frequently and at a younger age than those that don't have any risk factors. are also at a higher risk for colon cancer. This type of polyp has a risk of turning cancerous. and do not turn cancerous. They occur as a result of the chronic inflammation that takes place in the colon of people with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. and is the most common.Types Of Polyps There are four main types of colon polyps: adenomatous (tubular adenoma). Some tests that might be used to look for polyps include:  Colonoscopy  Sigmoidoscopy . small. and are at a low risk of turning cancerous. When this type of polyp is found. After a polyp is removed. it will be tested for cancer by a pathologist. hyperplastic. Anyone who has these polyps will need periodic screening to check for any more polyps and to have them removed. Inflammatory polyps most often occur in people who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Hyperplastic. These types of polyps are also known as pseudopolyps because they are different from the other three forms. Inflammatory Polyps. This type of polyp carries a high risk of turning cancerous. Colon Cancer Screening People older than 50 should get screened for colon cancer -.

but can only be removed during a sigmoidoscopy or a colonoscopy. Chemotherapy Side Effects What are common chemotherapy side effects? These medications work by interfering with cell division. Everyone experiences chemotherapy differently depending on the medications used and other factors. Your doctor may prescribe anti-nausea medications at the time of your treatment in an effort to prevent nausea from occuring altogether. Diarrhea can be a dangerous symptom. Cancer cells are continuously dividing and are therefore most susceptible to these medications. such as age. . sex. often prompting a change in the dose of chemotherapy or discontinuing treatment. white blood cells and platelets are continuously produced in the bone marrow and often affected by chemotherapy. but ways of managing this symptom have come a long way in recent years. If you are concerned about your risk of colon cancer.  Coping With Anemia (Low Red Blood Cell Count)  Coping With Neutropenia (Low White Blood Cell Count)  Coping With Thrombocytopenia (Low Platelet Count) Digestive Symptoms Nausea is one of the most dreaded side effects of chemotherapy. You may have several of the symptoms below. and many of these can be controlled with medications and other therapies. and general health. but may also be due to the cancer itself. or you may not experience any symptoms at all. Virtual Colonoscopy Polyps might be detected through the above tests. Bone Marrow Suppression Red blood cells. speak to your doctor about when and how often you should be screened. Dehydration is also a concern if diarrhea is present. and bone marrow) are also affected. but some normal cells that divide frequently (such as those lining the stomach and mouth. Management of side effects has come a long way over the last few decades. hair follicles. Be sure to let your cancer team know about any symptoms you are experiencing during chemotherapy. Loss of appetite may occur as a side effect of chemo. so they can work with you to make the journey as comfortable as possible. Your oncologist will monitor these cells with blood counts during your therapy.

and maybe more. or they may occur weeks to months after treatment. and Taxol (paclitaxel). but it can be distressing nonetheless. and in some cases may be permanent. following completion. Some medications are more likely to cause hair loss than others. this is most commonly seen with Platinol (cisplatin).  What is Cancer Fatigue?  Tips for Coping With Fatigue During Chemotherapy Oral Symptoms Both mouth sores and taste changes can make eating difficult for some people. Talking about options such as wigs and other head coverings before you lose your hair can ease some of the anxiety at this time  More About Chemotherapy Induced Hair Loss Fatigue Of all the chemotherapy side effects. With lung cancer. tingling. The first step toward coping with cancer-related fatigue is to understand that it is normal and common. Navelbine (vinorelbine). and it is not uncommon to lose eyebrow hair. Fatigue may begin shortly into treatment and can persist for up to a year. Mouth sores often develop a week or so after beginning chemotherapy and resolve soon after treatment is finished. facial hair. According to research. Taxotere (docetaxel) .  Coping With Mouth Sores  Coping With Taste Changes Peripheral Neuropathy Some medications can cause symptoms of numbness. It helps to be aware (and frequently comes as a surprise) that all hair can be affected. fatigue is one of the most distressing. These symptoms may occur early on in treatment and go away. Clinical trials are in progress to find ways of preventing peripheral neuropathy related to chemotherapy. “whole body” tiredness or a feeling in which even the most mundane activities require effort.  Coping with Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy . hair loss is one the most feared side effects of chemotherapy. and hair loss can range from a little thinning to total baldness. chemotherapy-related fatigue is frequently described as tiredness that does not resolve with rest. and even pubic hair. or burning in the hands and feet. Unlike ordinary tiredness.Hair Loss Hair loss is usually more of a nuisance than a symptom. Hair loss usually begins a week or so after the start of chemotherapy and begins to grow back 6 to 8 weeks after completing therapy.

and swelling of the feet and ankles. life. Cardiac Concerns Chemotherapy can cause cardiac effects early in treatment.  Heart Problems with Doxorubicin  What Is the MUGA Scan? . meditation. I chose to add in therapies such as acupuncture. In most cases. as well as other treatments for cancer. resulting in a decreased ability to pump blood through the body ( heart failure ). may cause damage to the heart muscle as well. but in some cases the effects may not show up until much later.Final Thoughts Chemotherapy. During my own chemotherapy treatments I chose a different friend to accompany me to each of my "visits. If you have been treated with Adriamycin. keep in mind that everyone is different. as well as reaching out to friends that "get it" but I hadn't spent much time with. Symptoms may include increasing shortness of breath. your doctor may recommend a MUGA scan to monitor how your heart is pumping. And that’s how it should be. such as radiation therapy to the chest area. a possible long term side effect is weakening of the heart muscle. Yet it's also an opportunity to see the glass as half full rather than half empty. the benefits of treatment far outweigh any possible complications down the line. Some people may have several of these side effects. fatigue. it's important to understand the long term side effects of chemotherapy that may occur months or years after treatment is completed.. are physically and emotionally draining..An Integrative Approach  How to Keep a Positive Attitude During Cancer Treatment Long Term Side Effects of Chemotherapy for Cancer The long term side effects of chemotherapy aren’t usually your first concern when you find out chemotherapy is recommended for your cancer. well. What can help you not only cope with these symptoms. One notable example is heart damage following treatment with the medication Adriamycin (doxorubicin) . Managing the side effects can also be an opportunity to not only accept a new normal. Side effects also vary considerably depending on the particular chemotherapy medications that are used. With this drug." I cherish those times to spend several hours wtih each of these friends without the distraction of kids and. Other cancer treatments. But with improved survival from many types of cancers.. while many will have none.. and qigong to help me cope. Before addressing possible long term side effects. but thrive during treatment?  Alternative Treatments That May Help With Cancer Symptoms . but to strive for an awesome new normal. Everyone is different.

most people deal with fatigue -. Chemobrain symptoms can be very frustrating. or malnutrition. Infertility following treatment varies with the dose and type of chemotherapy medications used. In most cases. It is important to share this symptom with your doctor.  Chemotherapy Drugs Known to Cause Infertility  Infertility After Treatment Peripheral Neuropathy Peripheral neuropathy. alcoholism. Some drugs that can cause this side effect in up to a third of people include Taxotere (docetaxel) and Taxol (paclitaxel). and Novelbine (vinorelbine). chemobrain symptoms improve over time.  Coping With Neuropathy from Chemotherapy . loss of fertility after chemotherapy can be heartbreaking. is another long-term side effect of chemotherapy.a constellation of symptoms that includes problems with memory and concentration -. because many causes of fatigue are reversible.  Details on Chemobrain Infertility Primarily a concern for younger people with cancer. This side effect occurs more commonly in people with a history of diabetes.  How Is Cancer Fatigue Different from Being Tired?  Coping with Cancer Fatigue Chemobrain "Chemobrain" -. along with constipation.has only recently been recognized as a long-term side effect of chemotherapy. can also result in peripheral neuropathy. Left Breast Radiation May Damage Coronary Arteries Fatigue During chemotherapy. Oncovin (vincristine). Other medications. such as Platinol (cisplatin). but an awareness of things you can do to cope with the symptoms can be very helpful. If you believe you may want to have children after treatment (for both men and women).yet a third of people continue to experience fatigue for months to years after chemotherapy is completed. experienced most often as a sensation of numbness and burning in your feet and hands. and doesn’t affect everyone. talk to your physician about the options available to you before you start treatment.

Chemotherapy has also been associated with osteomalacia. or blood in your urine. Other medications may also cause hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). the liver has a remarkable potential to regenerate most of the time. a medication used for many cancers including lung cancer. Secondary Cancer . Kidney and Bladder Effects Certain chemotherapy medications. and changes in diet that accompany cancer and its treatment can amplify the problem. This may be more pronounced when chemotherapy is combined with radiation therapy to the chest area. as long as other damaging effects (such as excess alcohol intake) are avoided. can cause damage to the kidneys and bladder.  What You Need to Know About Osteoporosis Respiratory Effects Chemotherapy can cause scarring of the lung (pulmonary fibrosis) and decreased lung capacity in some people. Thankfully. bone loss related to a deficiency of vitamin D. such as cisplatin.  Ototoxicity – Damage to Hearing Caused by Medications Skeletal Effects Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones) is the most common late effect of chemotherapy. Liver Effects Many chemotherapy medications can cause toxic damage to the liver (hepatotoxicity). is hearing loss. Effect on the Eyes Steroids are often given along with chemotherapy or for symptoms and side effects related to cancer. Symptoms of bladder irritation may include pain or urgency with urination.Hearing Loss One of the most common long-term side effects of Platinol (cisplatin) . This can hasten the development of cataracts in some people. This can result in a decreased ability of your kidneys to filter your blood. The greatest concern over the long run is fractures that can result from this bone loss. Most chemotherapy drugs cause bone loss to accelerate. Damage to the bladder can also occur and may be temporary or permanent.

 Let your doctor know if you experience any new symptoms or worsening of current symptoms you have.  Engage in regular physical activity. What Can You Do to Lower Your Risk? Until we know more about long-term survivorship issues following chemotherapy for adults. hearing loss.  If you smoke. tests for heart problems.  Make regular appointments with your dentist and eye doctor. there are a few things you can do:  Ask your oncologist about any late effects that you may expect from the particular chemotherapy drugs you were given. quit. or osteoporosis) that she would recommend?  Keep a record of your chemotherapy regimen with you in case you see a physician who is unfamiliar with your medical history.Due to the mechanism by which chemotherapy medications work. they can cause DNA damage in normal cells. which may result in secondary cancers down the line. Medications used to treat lung cancer that may cause a secondary cancer (though less likely) include Vepesid (etoposide) and Platinol (cisplatin. Some chemotherapy medications are more likely to cause this damage. Are there any screening tests (for example. For childhood cancer survivors.  Limit your intake of alcohol. with a category called alkylating agents being most likely (an example of these is Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) ). survivorship issues have been addressed in an excellent review: .

Adolescent. Long Term Follow-Up Guidelines for Survivors of Childhood. and Young Adult Cancers .