Specific symptoms of right colon cancer that you should not miss

The symptoms of right colon cancer may be different from those of left colon cancer. They may include bleeding, which can lead to anemia. In some cases, anemia is the first sign of the disease.

The symptoms of right-sided and left-sided colon cancer can differ due to where the cancer is located and where it can metastasize. Because the right side of the colon is larger than the left, tumors may take longer to cause noticeable symptoms. This article looks at how colon cancer symptoms differ between the right and left sides. It also reviews the diagnosis, treatment, and outlook for colon cancer and lists conditions with similar symptoms.

Symptoms of colon cancer on the right side

Symptoms of right colon cancer can include blood in the stool, anemia, and weight loss. In cases where the cancer is near the cecum, which joins the small and large intestines, the first symptom is usually anemia due to chronic blood loss.

On the other hand, the symptoms of left-sided colon cancer are as follows:

– a change in bowel habits
– constipation
– narrow, ribbon-shaped stools when the cancer is located in the lower part of the rectum.

This difference in symptoms is explained by the location of the cancer.

The right side of the colon is known as the ascending colon. It pushes digested food up the right side of the abdomen before crossing the middle and down the left side toward the anus.
The opening on the right side of the colon is wider than the opening on the left side. This means that tumors on the right side can grow before the person experiences symptoms. Tumor growth on the right side also tends to be flat, making tumors even less noticeable until they grow larger.

Because the opening on the left side of the colon is narrower, cancer growth makes the intestinal canal smaller, which can create a partial blockage. This can lead to more obvious symptoms.
Cancer in the right colon can metastasize to the tissues lining the pelvis and abdomen, but the left type can metastasize to the liver and lungs.

Right or left colon cancer

Here are some of the differences between right-sided and left-sided colon cancer.

point of origin

The right side of the colon is connected to the cecum, which is the bag that connects the small intestine to the large intestine. The tumors usually grow in the space of the colon. Rather, the left side of the colon is connected to the rectum, where waste leaves the body. This cancer tends to grow around the wall of the colon and surround it.


Right colon cancer can metastasize to the peritoneal region, which is the tissue that lines the pelvic and abdominal area. Metastasis is the process by which cancer cells spread from a primary tumor and form secondary tumors in another part of the body. In contrast, left colon cancer metastasizes to the lungs and liver.


The outlook for colon cancer depends on the type and stage of the cancer, whether it has spread, and other factors. According to a 2018 study, if right-sided colon cancer is stage 1 or 2, the prognosis is better than early-stage left-sided cancers. But if right-sided colon cancer is stage 3 or 4, the prognosis is worse than left-sided colon cancer at these stages.
Because of the difference in symptoms and the time it takes for them to appear, people with right-sided colon cancer may be diagnosed later than people with left-sided cancer. Earlier research, conducted in 2008, looked at the prognosis of 77,978 people with colon cancer. The median survival time for people with right-sided colon cancer was 78 months, while for people with left-sided colon cancer it was 89 months.

Diagnosis of colon cancer on the right side

Doctors base the diagnosis of colon cancer on the following tests:

– Physical exam
– stool blood test
– colonoscopy, which allows you to view the entire colon and rectum
– biopsy, which consists of an analysis of the tissues of the area suspected of cancer

– blood tests, such as:
complete blood count, which measures different types of blood cells
tumor markers, which some colon cancer cells produce
liver enzymes

– Imaging tests, such as:
computed tomography
chest x-ray

Since colon cancer may not cause any symptoms until it has progressed, it is recommended that you begin regular screening starting at age 45.

Treatment of right colon cancer

Colon cancer treatment can be local or systemic.

local treatment

Local treatment affects the area of ​​the colon where the tumor is located, but not the entire body. Doctors use it most often for early-stage cancers. These are the possible options:


Types of surgery include:

– polypectomy, which involves removing a polyp
– local excision, which involves removing a small cancer with a small amount of surrounding healthy tissue
– colectomy, which involves the removal of all or part of the colon, as well as nearby lymph nodes.

Ablation and embolization

Sometimes when cancer metastasizes, doctors can use ablation and embolization to destroy small tumors in other parts of the body. The ablation destroys the tissues selected by the doctor. The types of ablation are:

– high energy radio waves
– electromagnetic waves
– freezing
– Radiotherapy

This involves the use of high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. For some colon cancers, concurrent chemotherapy makes radiation therapy more effective.

systemic treatment

Systemic treatment involves the use of drugs capable of reaching cancer cells circulating in the body. Options include:

– chemotherapy, which kills cancer cells
– targeted therapy, which focuses on specific changes in cells that cause cancer
– immunotherapy, which helps the immune system identify and destroy cancer cells.

Other conditions that cause these symptoms

There are a number of other diseases that can cause symptoms similar to right colon cancer. A person should see a doctor for a diagnosis.


Diverticula are small pouches that form and push out of the colon wall. Diverticulitis develops when they become inflamed. Symptoms include:

– pain in the lower abdominal area
– swelling
– diarrhea or constipation
When a blood vessel bursts in the diverticula, it can cause bleeding from the trusted source, which can be serious.

inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes two diseases: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both cause visible damage to the intestinal tract. Symptoms include

– bloody stools or rectal bleeding
– weightloss
– abdominal pain
– persistent diarrhea
– fatigue


Hemorrhoids are swollen, inflamed veins around the anus or lower rectum. They can be external or internal. Symptoms of the external type are as follows:

– anal pain
– anal itching
– hard and tender lumps near the anus
Internal hemorrhoids can cause bleeding, which results in the appearance of bright red blood in the stool. They can also extend or fall through the anal opening.

colon polyps

Polyps are noncancerous growths on the lining of the colon and rectum. They often don’t cause symptoms, but when they do, symptoms can include:

– black, tarry stools due to bleeding
– observable blood in stool
– fatigue due to anemia


The symptoms of right colon cancer may be more subtle than those of left colon cancer. They include bleeding and anemia. According to a reliable source, anemia is the first symptom and it occurs due to continuous blood loss. Because the lumen on the right side of the colon is larger than the lumen on the left side, tumors can grow without causing symptoms. That’s why regular screenings are recommended for adults over 45 years of age. If a person is concerned that they have colon cancer, they should see a doctor as soon as possible. There are a number of other conditions that can explain the symptoms. If a person needs cancer treatment, early diagnosis can make a significant difference in prognosis.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information provided can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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