Weakness and Fatigue

Colon Cancer Symptoms: Page 2

By , Caring.com senior editor
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fatigue

One of the few signs of colorectal cancer that appears early in the progression of the disease is fatigue, weakness, and general malaise.

How it feels: You might feel more tired or weak, or notice that exercise or exertion takes more out of you. You may feel like sleeping more than usual or find it difficult to get out of bed. Some people notice dizziness with exertion, such as when climbing stairs or when they stand up suddenly. You might also notice that you look pale or feel cold easily. In extreme cases, intestinal bleeding can lead to shortness of breath.

What causes it: Large polyps or tumors can bleed into the digestive tract. Over time, the blood loss can lead to iron deficiency anemia and can lower oxygen levels in the blood. Lower sodium levels in the blood due to dehydration can also contribute to fatigue.

What to do: Pay attention to stools for any change of color or sign of blood. (Tip: Look at toilet paper closely after you wipe.) Darkened purplish or black stools can indicate the presence of blood. However, blood loss can occur without any blood being visible. Ask your doctor to perform a fecal occult blood test, which can detect blood that's not visible to the naked eye.