What can be expected with colon cancer that has spread to the lungs and liver?

Each person’s disease progresses in its own way, and it’s not always possible to predict what can happen as a disease progresses. Someone with colon cancer may have symptoms specifically related to the tumor in the colon and may have symptoms caused by the general effects of cancer on the body. When cancer spreads to the lungs and liver the person may also experience symptoms related to the tumors in these areas.

Pain may occur in the areas where the cancer is located. The person may also experience side effects related to medications.

Someone with colon cancer may experience abdominal pain and tenderness. The person may have blood in the stool or experience diarrhea, constipation, or other changes in bowel habits. Sometimes a tumor in the colon may cause more serious problems such as an intestinal obstruction.

Someone who has a tumor in the lungs may experience shortness of breath, also known as dyspnea. Coughing may be present throughout the illness or at advanced stages.

When cancer affects the liver, jaundice may develop, which makes the skin and eyes turn yellow. This indicates that the liver is not clearing bile as it should, and toxins that the liver normally clears are building up in the bloodstream. If the liver is not functioning well, a person may become drowsy or confused.

Someone with colon cancer may also experience symptoms that are common to most cancers generally, which affect energy, strength, appetite, breathing and responsiveness.

Medications can help with many of these specific symptoms. The symptoms usually can be controlled so the person is comfortable.