Rectal Bleeding: Should You Be Worried?

Rectal Bleeding… Beware That Which Is Concealed!

Passing blood in the stools is a common problem. For some patients, the sight of blood in the toilet bowl is alarming but others simply blame it on piles and brush it off.

Rectal bleeding is always significant and requires further investigation and assessment by a specialist.


Well, though the commonest cause is probably piles (which are usually just troublesome rather than serious) rectal bleeding can also be due to other diseases in the large bowel.

Even if you DO have piles – (because piles are so common) it is possible for someone to have piles but be bleeding from Something Else in the large bowel.

And that Something Else could be serious….


Possible Causes of Rectal Bleeding
  • Anal fissure
  • Anal fistula
  • Diverticular disease
  • Colitis & Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Angiodysplasia
  • Polyps
  • Cancer

Notice the last two?

Polyps & Cancer.

You certainly do NOT want to miss picking up a hidden colon cancer, just because someone called it piles without checking out your bowel.

And as for polyps, there is quite a lot of evidence to link polyps to cancer.

So, if you have polyps, you wouldn’t want to be keeping those either.

As for the other things, Diverticular Disease can cause massive serious bleeding as well as perforation or obstruction but at the end of the day, it is totally benign and does not keep getting worse with time, like polyps and cancer.


What To Do If You Have Rectal Bleeding

So if you’re thinking: does rectal bleeding have anything to do with cancer?

First, don’t scare yourself unnecessarily. We won’t know until we conduct a thorough examination.

Make an appointment to see me.

I would probably advise a scope examination of the large bowel, called a colonoscopy.

If after the scope examination everything inside you is normal, we can then blame the bleeding on piles and be certain that we are not missing something potentially dangerous inside.

Then we can both breathe a sigh of relief!


You might also want to read:


All You Ever Wanted To Know About Polyps

What Are Polyps?

Polyps are growths in the bowel.

They can have a stalk, like a cauliflower, or be flat like moss. Polyps can cause bleeding or mucus in the stools, and on rare occasions it can cause bowel obstruction.  There are 2 types of polyps: malignant as well as benign polyps.

However, evidence suggests that polyps kept for a long time in the body can turn cancerous.

Hundreds of Polyps In The Bowel?
Polyp as seen on colonoscopy
Polyp as seen on colonoscopy

Yes, some patients have a rare condition called Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP).

Patients with this condition have hundreds of polyps in the bowel.

These patients have a risk of cancer approaching 100%, mostly before the age of 40 years. If you suffer from FAP, the best course of action is to remove the entire large bowel leaving the small bowel, preferably before it becomes cancerous.

Do I Have Polyps and If So, How Do I Get Rid of Them?

If you do not have any symptoms, we can screen you to see if you might have polyps using a test called Faecal Occult Blood test to see if there is any blood mixed in the stool.

If it is positive, you should have a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is the best way to find out if you have polyps or not.

If we find polyps during the colonoscopy examination, we can remove them with a special snare.

If you are on “blood thinning medicines” (Aspirin, Clopidogrel, Ticlodipine, Xarelto or Warfarin) you need to stop taking these medicines at least 5 days before removal of a polyp to avoid bleeding from the stalk afterwards.