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Blood in the Bowel Motions

What is Rectal Bleeding?
The rectum refers to the last part of the large bowel just before the back passage or anus. Despite the term of “rectal bleeding”, blood in the stools may originate from anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract (e.g. stomach ulcer). Healthy bowel motions are usually brown. Bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract may have various appearances depending on the location and rate of bleeding.

> Black stools
> Maroon coloured stools
> Bright red blood in the stools
> Bright red blood coating the stools
> Blood on the toilet paper

Does Rectal Bleeding mean I have cancer?
Not necessarily. Seeing blood in the stools or on the toilet paper can be very alarming, but is actually relatively common. It is not possible to know what the cause of bleeding is without an examination. It is recommended that anyone with rectal bleeding see their doctor for an examination, irrespective of the amount of blood seen.

What are the causes of rectal bleeding?
The most common causes of rectal bleeding are haemorrhoids and anal fissures (a split in the anal sphincter). Other causes include bowel cancer, bowel polyps, diverticulosis (pockets off the bowel), angiodysplasia (abnormal blood vessels), colitis (large bowel/colonic inflammation) or gastrointestinal infection.

Should I see a doctor?
It is not possible to know what the cause of bleeding is without an examination.
It is recommended that ANYONE with rectal bleeding see their doctor for an examination

What tests are available to investigate rectal bleeding?
The required investigations will depend on the severity of the bleeding and the likely cause. A rectal examination, blood/stool tests or endoscopy (gastroscopy/colonoscopy) may be required depending on your individual circumstances.

What is the treatment for rectal bleeding?
This really depends on the cause of bleeding. Your GastroNorth specialist can give you more specific details of treatment once appropriate tests are performed, and a cause is found.

More information?
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Information about specific conditions treated at GastroNorth

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