Rectal cancer is cancer that forms in the rectum, the last part of the colon. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of rectal cancer typically do not appear until the cancer is in advanced stages.
Common signs of rectal cancer, as listed by the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center include a change in bowel functions, constipation, diarrhea, a feeling that the bowel doesn’t completely empty and rectal bleeding or a bloody stool. Other symptoms are narrower than usual stools, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, vomiting and general abdominal discomfort.
Awareness of the symptoms of rectal cancer is important because, according to the National Cancer Institute, treatment is much more likely to be effective when the cancer is detected early.
Most rectal cancers begin as an abnormal growth of tissue, called a polyp, on the wall of the rectum.
Most symptoms of rectal cancer are also symptoms of other conditions.
According to the National Cancer Institute, pain is not a symptom of early stage rectal cancer. Persons with any symptoms should not wait until pain is present to see a doctor.