Colon Cancer: Why You Should Know About It

Consulting with doctor during regular screenings

What is colon cancer?

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women and men in the United States. It’s expected to cause about 50,630 deaths during 2018.1 It develops in the colon or rectum, usually as a small growth called a polyp. Because it can take several years for the polyp to develop into cancer, regular screening can often help prevent colorectal cancer. How? By finding polyps that can be removed before they become cancerous.

What are colon cancer symptoms?

Don’t wait to experience symptoms before you take action. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends screening for colorectal cancer beginning at age 45 and before if you are at increased or high risk.2 Your doctor can help you determine your risk and how often to get screened.

When colon cancer does have symptoms, they may include:3

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Feeling that your bowel does not empty completely
  • Blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool
  • Stools that are narrower than usual
  • Frequently having gas pains or cramps, or feeling full or bloated
  • Weight loss with no known reason
  • Feeling very tired all the time
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Change in bowel habits

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. When colon cancer is detected early, treatment often leads to a cure.4

Lose weight and improve your overall health

Maintaining a healthy weight reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis.

Read about obesity and illness

Stay on schedule with your shots

Adults need vaccinations, too. Know which you’re up to date on and which to avoid.

Read adult vaccinations

Look up healthcare and health plan terms

From abrasion to X-ray, the Humana glossary offers explanations for common insurance and medical terms.

Browse our healthcare glossary