Bowel cancer, or colorectal cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in the rectum or colon. Bowel cancer can cause a variety of symptoms in females, many of which can go unnoticed.
When the cancer first begins, a person may experience mild and indistinct signs or symptoms. As the cancer progresses, the symptoms can become more obvious.
Females have a
This article reviews the signs and symptoms of colorectal (bowel) cancer in females.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
Symptoms do not vary much between sexes.
Colorectal cancer also
The only way to know for sure if a person has colorectal cancer is to get screenings.
People with average risk factors should get screening
Stages I and II
Catching colorectal cancer is not always easy to do in the earlier stages.
The reasons for this include:
- symptoms or signs
oftendo not present until the cancer is in later stages
- symptoms, when they do present, may be mistaken for other conditions
Two of the more common symptoms in early-stage colorectal cancer include:
- changes to bowel habits that last for several weeks
- changes in consistency of stool
In some cases, a person may also experience some other signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer. These can include:
- abdominal or rectal pain
- discolored stool, black, tarry stool or blood in stool
- weight loss
Stages III and IV
In later stages of colorectal cancer, it is more common to experience symptoms compared to earlier stages.
Some common symptoms of stages III and IV can include persistent:
- changes in bowel movement habits
- blood in the stool
- abdominal discomfort, pain, or bloating
Other possible symptoms of colorectal cancer can include:
- unexplained weight loss
- anemia diagnosis
- bleeding from rectum
- excessive fatigue or weakness
- urge to pass a bowel movement that does not go away even after having passed one
Since stage IV cancer has spread to other areas of the body, a person may experience additional symptoms.
What symptoms present depends on the area where the cancer has spread. Colorectal cancer
- distant lymph nodes
- lining of the abdominal cavity
Some of the symptoms of colorectal cancer can resemble symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle, such as bloating, cramping, or fatigue.
A person should talk with their doctor if they notice any changes or long lasting symptoms they often associate with their menstrual cycle.
Bowel cancer affects males and females similarly with regards to their symptoms. However, there are a few distinctions between the sexes.
Females have a lifetime risk of
Risk factors associated with lifestyle choices, such as eating red meat, can differ between the sexes.
Bowel cancer occurs when cells in the colon or rectum start to grow out of control. Several risk factors
Some risk factors that a person cannot help include:
- getting older
- family or person history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
- inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- genetic syndromes, such as familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome)
In addition, a person can increase their risk of developing colorectal cancer with certain lifestyle choices.
Some things that can increase a person’s risk of developing bowel cancer include:
- drinking alcohol
- high fat, low fiber diet
- diet high in processed meats
- minimal physical exercise or activities
- limited fruits and vegetables in diet
The current recommendation for people with minimal risk factors for developing bowel or colorectal cancer is to start screenings at
People with higher risk factors should talk with their doctor about when they should start getting screened.
Females who are going through menopause may be able to reduce their risk of developing bowel cancer via hormone therapy.
Some other steps a person can take to help reduce their risk of colorectal cancer include:
- exercising regularly
- eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and fiber
- maintaining a moderate weight
- avoiding excessive alcohol use
- not smoking
A person should contact their doctor if they notice abnormal bowel movements that persist for several weeks.
They should contact their doctor immediately if they experience bleeding during bowel movements or bloody, black stool.
Bowel or colorectal cancer affects biological females the same as biological males.
Minor differences include the lifetime risk and the potential use of hormone replacement therapy as a possible preventive measure for colorectal cancer.
Everyone should start screening for colon cancer by age 45. However, those at higher risk should get screening done earlier.