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Stomach Cramps as a Symptom of Colon Cancer

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Updated: January 3, 2008

When we think we know what's causing our stomach cramps (that lunchmeat that tasted a little funny, perhaps), we tend to sit tight and wait for them to pass. That often works, but it's important to realize that stomach cramps can sometimes be a symptom of a serious condition.

Common Causes of Stomach Cramps

Lots of things can cause stomach cramps. Examples include anxiety, constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating, and PMS. Although stomach cramps are a fairly common occurrence, it's important to pay attention to them. Monitoring the frequency of your stomach cramps and noting their severity can help you -- and your doctor -- determine whether they may indicate the presence of a serious underlying illness, such as colon cancer.

Stomach Cramps as a Symptom of Cancer

Sometimes a tumor causes a bowel obstruction, which is basically a road block in your colon. Depending on the severity of the blockage, solids, liquids, and even gas may be prevented from passing through your system. This leads to stomach cramps that can be severe, especially if the blockage restricts blood flow to the colon. Painful stomach cramps may also indicate that a tumor has perforated (poked through) the bowel wall.

Medical Attention for Stomach Cramps

Please seek medical attention if you experience persistent or severe stomach cramps, especially if they're accompanied by other colon cancer symptoms. It's a medical emergency when a tumor restricts blood flow to the colon or perforates the bowel wall. Since late-stage colon cancer (usually stage 3 or stage 4) sometimes announces its presence in this fashion, many people have received a surprise colon cancer diagnosis after a trip to the emergency room.

Related Articles:

Sources:

"About Colorectal Cancer: Symptoms." Colon Cancer Alliance. Accessed 29 Aug. 2007 [http://www.ccalliance.org/about/symptoms/symptoms.html].

"Gastrointestinal Complications." National Cancer Institute 19 Jul. 2006. Accessed 29 Aug. 2007 [http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/gastrointestinalcomplications/Patient/page5].

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