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Colon Cancer in Women: Symptoms to Look For and What You Need to Know

March 21, 2023
Blue colon cancer ribbon tied around patient’s finger

Many assume colon cancer is only a concern for men, given it is one of the most common types of cancer that affect them. However, almost as many women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer as men. According to the American Cancer Society, about 64,000 women learn they have colorectal cancer in the United States each year.

Thankfully, with cancer screenings and medical knowledge about the signs of colon cancer in women, early detection of the disease, and therefore early colon cancer treatment, is possible. Located in Staten Island, New York, Richmond University Medical Center has an experienced team of oncologists, nurses, and other care providers dedicated to diagnosing and treating colon cancer. Here, we explore colorectal cancer in women and detail what symptoms patients should be aware of as well as go over other important factors.

What Are the Warning Signs of Colon Cancer in Women?

Colon cancer develops from tiny growths in the inner wall of the colon. These growths are called polyps, and when cancerous, they allow cancer cells to enter the bloodstream and lymph system, reaching other areas of the body.

Detecting colon cancer in its early stages can be complicated because most of the time, patients show no signs of the disease until it is more advanced. However, there are warning signs patients can recognize. Indications of colon cancer tend to be the same in women and men, and can include the following:

  • Constipation, diarrhea, or other changes in bowel habits
  • Bloody stool
  • Pain or cramps originating from the abdominal region
  • Fatigue, weakness, or reduced levels of energy
  • Unexpected or unexplained weight loss
  • Rectal discomfort
  • A constant feeling that a bowel movement is not fully complete

For women, some symptoms of colon cancer can easily be mistaken for symptoms related to their menstrual cycle, such as fatigue and cramps. Women who question their symptoms and are experiencing constant fatigue or abdominal pain should speak with a medical professional. Women should also speak with their physicians should these symptoms feel different from what they normally experience around their menstrual cycle.

Risk Factors in Women

A risk factor is anything that increases the chances of developing an illness or medical condition. The same aspects that increase a man’s chance of having colon cancer apply to women. These risk factors include:

  • Older age
  • Family history
  • Unhealthy lifestyle
  • Radiation treatment
  • Personal history of polyps

In addition to these risk factors, other components may increase a woman’s probability of experiencing colon cancer. After menopause, a woman’s risk of all cancers increases, including colon cancer. Women may also be at an increased risk of developing a certain type of colon cancer called hereditary polyposis colon cancer (HPCC) if they have a history of cancer of the endometrium and are a carrier for the MMR gene mutation.

Answers and Treatment at Richmond University Medical Center

Women who believe they have symptoms of colon cancer, or those who wish to learn more about the disease, can get professional answers from the board-certified oncology team at Richmond University Medical Center. Located in Staten Island, New York, our physicians strive to provide compassionate and comprehensive care of the highest quality. The team is here to answer any questions patients have or discuss any topics concerning their health, including the signs of colon cancer in women.

For more information about the relationship between women and colon health, or to schedule an appointment with the medical team, contact us today.