Blood in the stool should always be a cause for concern and should never be ignored especially when over 50 years of age. Blood in your stool can be a sign of colon problems, including polyps or colon cancer, but could also be a result of more benign conditions such as hemorrhoids or anal fissures.
A Answers (6)
Lisa Ganjhu, MD, Gastroenterology, answered
Nothing’s more alarming than seeing a bit of blood on a tissue when you go to the bathroom. Check out this video with Dr. Janet Ganjhu, a gastroenterologist, to learn what passes for normal and what’s reason to head to the ER.
Blood in your stool is never normal. Blood on the toilet paper may simply be from hemorrhoids; however, it is extremely important to know that other serious diseases cause blood in the stool, in the toilet bowel, or on the toilet paper. Most importantly, these may also be symptoms of colorectal cancer and colon polyps. All rectal bleeding should trigger an evaluation by a gastroenterologist.
David Greenwald, MD, Gastroenterology, answered on behalf of American Society for Gastrointestinal EndoscopyBlood in the stool may be caused by benign (noncancerous) diseases such as hemorrhoids or inflammation in the lining of the colon. However, it might also indicate a more serious condition such as colorectal cancer. Blood in the stool should always be reported to a physician, who can help decide whether further investigation is warranted.
Colorectal cancer is often present in people without symptoms, making prevention and screening for colorectal cancer very important. A polyp may be found and removed even before it becomes cancerous, and before a person develops symptoms. Once symptoms appear, a colonoscopy may be performed to aid in diagnosis, rather than to screen for disease. The following signs or symptoms, however, might indicate colorectal cancer:
- blood in the stool
- narrower than normal stools
- unexplained abdominal pain
- unexplained change in bowel habits
- unexplained anemia
- unexplained weight loss
Yes, you should be worried about blood in your stool. Blood in stool can be as simple as a small hemorrhoid or irritation or as serious as colon cancer. It is not normal to have blood in your stool, so it should be checked out right away. Schedule an appointment with your physician as quickly as possible to have problems addressed.
Mehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answeredA small amount of bright red blood is usually nothing to be alarmed about. It most likely indicates hemorrhoids, and just a single drop of blood can turn the whole bowl red.
You can detect microscopic levels of blood with an at-home hemocult test, which is available at pharmacies and can be done every year after age 40. Don't worry-it's actually not as gross as it sounds; just follow the directions on the label. This test, as many at-home tests do, has false-positives, so you'll need to follow up with your physician (this week, not next year) if you do have a positive reading.
Blood can be a sign of many things, but it's important to look for it so that a colonoscopy-recommended every three years for people over 50, or over 40 for people with a family history of colon cancer-can catch the pre-cancerous polyps before they lead to colon cancer.