Signs & Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

Ed Yakacki, III
Stage IV Colon Cancer
Dx: Age 30
Gibbstown, NJ

Ed didn’t tell anyone at the time, but remembers having bathroom issues throughout his twenties. He experienced extreme bouts of constipation and diarrhea.

There are some common signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer (CRC)… and some not so obvious when you are  a young adult! Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of:

  • Diarrhea (that will not stop) that lasts for more than a few days, not just after eating Taco Bell
  • Constipation (you can’t “go” to save your life) that lasts for more than a few days
  • Unintended or unexplained weight loss (or weight gain)
  • Vomiting
  • Narrow stools – poo looks pencil-thin
  • Change in stools – poo just looks different, smells different
  • Gas, bloating and cramps
  • Weakness and fatigue – no energy at ALL
  • Anemia
  • Feeling like you need to go poo – and still feeling like you need to poo once you’ve gone
  • Killer abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Blood in stool (although not always visible.) Blood can be rectal bleeding, dark stools or blood on the stool, although the stool will look normal.
  • Passing a large amount of blood

***This is NOT to be taken as medical advice. Most of these symptoms are NOT necessarily colorectal cancer and can be caused by other conditions such as IBD, hemorrhoids, infection, etc. Know your body and if you have ANY signs or symptoms – demand a colonoscopy! You are never “too young” for colorectal Cancer – it can happen to ANY ONE at ANY age!***

It’s just a hemorrhoid…

Many times, even though the symptoms are very clear, young adults are misdiagnosed or their diagnosis is prolonged due to their age. Know your body and if you are having trouble being diagnosed – don’t stop until you have answers! Over the years, here are some of the assumed diagnoses our Featured Survivors received before doctors discovered their colorectal cancer:

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Stress
  • Pregnancy pains
  • IBS
  • Parasite
  • Colitis or Crohn’s Disease
  • Depression and psychiatric help
  • Appendicitis
  • Spastic colon
  • Spiritual problems
  • Ulcer
  • Gall bladder problems
  • Hernia
  • Low fiber or poor diet
  • Working out too hard or too much
  • “Female” problems
  • Anal fissure
  • “Just a tear”
  • Food allergies
  • Gas
  • Lactose intolerance

Colorectal Cancer is on the rise among young adults!

Colorectal cancer is “on the rise” among young adults (those >50 yrs), specifically rectal cancers. In fact, 1 in 7 colorectal cancer diagnosis are in those under 50 years of age!

Maegan Holton
Stage IV Rectal Cancer
Dx: Age 20
Waycross, GA






You are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer if you have a any of the following conditions:

Family History

If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you are at an increased risk. Screening needs to begin ten years earlier from the age of your family member’s diagnosis.

Family history typically involves first-degree relatives like moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. However, do not dismiss second-degree relatives’ history when examining colorectal cancer or colon polyps within your family.

IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease)

If you’ve been diagnosed with IBD (Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease) you are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer and should be screened earlier. Talk with your physician about the appropriate time for YOU to have a colonoscopy.

FAP – Familial Adenomatous Polyposis

Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is a genetic disorder that causes hundreds to thousands of polyps to line the colon. The majority of those with FAP inherit the disorder from mom or dad and 100% will develop CRC if their colons are not removed usually by the age of 18.

Lynch Syndrome (HNPCC)

Patients with Lynch Syndrome carry a genetic mutation in the “spell check” genes that create a high risk for developing colorectal cancer (80%) within their lifetime, among other cancers such as breast, ovarian, stomach, urinary, etc. If you or someone in your family has tested positive with Lynch Syndrome please go to the HEROIC Registry and register to help further research and future treatments!