The colon, also referred to as the large intestine or large bowel, is one of the organs in the digestive system. It is 6 feet long and is divided up into four different sections:
– Ascending colon
– Transverse colon
– Descending colon
– Sigmoid colon
The colon plays an important part in the final stages of digestion. It removes any remaining food after the nutrients have been removed from it during the earlier stages of digestion. This process is known as peristalsis. Salts and liquids are removed from the leftover food waste as it makes its way through the colon. That waste is then eliminated as a bowel movement.
Like any other organ in the body, the colon can be affected by cancer. Colon cancer is very prevalent and understanding the signs and symptoms are vital, because if left untreated, it will progress, possibly spread, and potentially cause death.
Constipation is a relatively normal condition. It is described as difficulty emptying the bowels, and that difficulty is usually accompanied by hardened stools. Additionally, stools become less frequent – a person can go several days or more without having a bowel movement.
In most cases, though constipation is uncomfortable, it isn’t a cause for concern. It can be a side effect of not drinking enough water, not eating enough fiber, stress, or taking certain medications or supplements. However, constipation can also be a sign of colon cancer. Tumors within the bowels can prevent the colon emptying waste.
As a result, that waste gets trapped in the lower portion of the digestive tract, hardens, and can become difficult to pass. Many patients who are diagnosed with colon cancer report that they have experienced constipation. If you’re having difficulty passing bowels, speak to your doctor to find out the cause.