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I've Been Constipated. Could I Have Colon Cancer?


Updated: April 14, 2007

I'm usually able to have a bowel movement at least two times per week. For the past three weeks, I haven't been able to have a bowel movement on my own. I've been taking a laxative once a week. Can this be a sign of colon cancer?

It's good that you're paying attention to what's a normal schedule for you. A lot of people don't, even though it's a great idea. Constipation can be a sign of colorectal cancer. Tumors in the left colon, sigmoid colon, and rectum can sometimes block the flow of solid stool, leading to difficulty having bowel movements. (Check out Anatomy of the Large Intestine and Top 10 Colon Cancer Symptoms for more detailed information.)

There's always a reason for constipation, even if it's not cancer. Have you been eating differently these past few weeks? Less fiber, more white stuff (bread, rice, pasta), more cheese? Have you exercised less? Have you sweat more? Drunk less? All of those things can lead to constipation, too.

I hope my answer helps somewhat. If you're concerned, please discuss this with your doctor. Depending on your age and other factors, she/he may recommend colon cancer screening. At the very least, you'll get some professional medical advice (which I can't provide) about the problem you're having.

Please remember that I am not a medical professional. I offer my input as a neighbor, a friend, sitting at the kitchen table talking about what's on your mind and trying to help if I can. This is not medical advice. Please don't consider it medical advice or pass it on to others as medical advice. Thanks.

  1. About Colorectal Cancer: Symptoms. Colon Cancer Alliance. 24 Jun. 2006 [http://www.ccalliance.org/about/symptoms/symptoms.html].
  2. Colon Cancer: Colon Cancer Symptoms. eMedicine. 25 Oct. 2005. 24 Jun. 2006 [http://www.emedicinehealth.com/colon_cancer/page3_em.htm].
  3. Colon Cancer: What are the Symptoms of Colon Cancer? MedicineNet. 24 Mar. 2005. 24 Jun. 2006 [http://www.medicinenet.com/colon_cancer/page3.htm].
  4. Constipation in Adults: Constipation Causes. eMedicine. 10 Aug. 2005. 24 Jun. 2006 [http://www.emedicinehealth.com/constipation_in_adults/page2_em.htm].
  5. The Facts: Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer. Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation. 23 Jan. 2006. 24 Jun. 2006 [http://www.preventcancer.org/colorectal/facts/symptoms.cfm].
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