Anemia is a condition that develops when your blood does not have a sufficient number of healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body, so a shortage of red blood cells means that cells in your body are not getting the oxygen they need. Some common symptoms of anemia are fatigue, shortness of breath, racing heart and paleness.
One of the many symptoms and warning signs of colon cancer is anemia. Tumors can bleed because they have their own fragile network of blood vessels, and you may feel fatigued and weak because the tumor is bleeding internally. Slow blood loss is characteristic of tumors located in the right colon where it is spacious and the tumor can expand and go undetected. Although signs of anemia are present, you may not see blood in your stool because the blood dries before it leaves the colon.
The left colon is much more constricted than the right colon, so a tumor is more likely to cause an obstruction in the bowel. Symptoms may develop more quickly because the diameter of the left colon is smaller. You may experience constipation, narrowed stool, diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps, bloating and bright red blood in the stool (Source: Colorectal Center Canada).
If you suspect that you are anemic, make an appointment to visit your doctor. Do not depend on visible symptoms; even a microscopic amount of blood loss can result in anemia if it is chronic. On the other hand, not all blood in the stool is indicative of colon cancer or will result in anemia. Constipation or hemorrhoids can bring on rectal bleeding, and foods such as beets or red licorice can tint the stool red. Pay close attention to your symptoms, and if they persist for more than a few days, do not delay in
scheduling an appointment with your doctor.