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This is the most common presentation of colorectal cancer and is characterised by:
Bloody discharges from the rectum (rectal bleeding).
Abdominal pain. Which is less intense and with a more latent onset than in the acute presentation
Changes in bowel movement rhythm (whether it be diarrhoea or constipation)
Weight loss, loss of appetite (anorexia) and/or tiredness. The presentation of these symptoms could be signs of an advanced tumour
Anaemia. Colorectal cancer occasionally manifests as anaemia (iron deficiency anaemia) due to unnoticed blood loss through the digestive tract.
The acute presentation of colorectal cancer, which is much less common than the chronic form, includes:
Intestinal perforation. This occurs when tumour growth affects the entire thickness of the intestine wall which eventually ruptures, subsequently allowing faecal matter to pass into the peritoneal cavity. This leads to acute peritonitis which manifests with abdominal pain and often fever.
Bowel obstruction. Similarly, tumours can grow until they obstruct intestinal transit, leading to abdominal pain and vomiting.
Antonio Maria Lacy FortunyGeneral and Digestive SurgeryGastrointestinal Surgery Department
Estela Pineda LosadaOncologyMedical Oncology Department
Francesc Balaguer PrunesGastroenterologistGastroenterology Department
Mª Rosa Costa QuintàsNurseGastrointestinal Surgery Department
Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018
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