If blood is present in your toilet bowl or on your toilet paper while wiping, should you be concerned? Undoubtedly, this situation requires attention! Rectal bleeding, or blood in stool, is a common symptom that can indicate a range of underlying conditions. Given that it might be a symptom of serious illnesses including colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, you should be concerned (IBD).In this article, we will discuss the potential reasons for blood in the stool and the appropriate treatments for each.
Is Blood In Stool A Serious Symptom To Worry About?
There are two sides to it. While inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer can be indicated by blood in the stool, less severe conditions like hemorrhoids or anal fissures can also cause bleeding.
The seriousness of blood in stool depends on various factors such as the amount of blood, its appearance, and the accompanying symptoms. Is the blood bright red, or is it darker and tarry in appearance? Bright red blood may be brought on by ailments like hemorrhoids or anal fissures. It could be a sign of bleeding in the lower portion of the digestive tract, such as the rectum or anus.
Darker blood, however, can signal to bleed further up the digestive tract, such as the stomach or small intestine. It can be a marker of ulcerative colitis or colon cancer.
If you get chronic blood in the stool or if you are suffering from intense pain, a fever, or other symptoms, it is important to make sure that you talk to a healthcare provider.
What Are The Causes Of Blood In Stools?
Various medical conditions can lead to rectal bleeding or blood in the stool. We’ll examine the most prevalent causes of this disease, dividing them into threatening and less threatening causes.
- Colorectal cancer: Colon or rectum cancer falls under this category. A stool that contains blood, especially if it is dark and persistent, could indicate an early symptom of colorectal cancer.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): IBD is a chronic condition that contains Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These illnesses result in digestive system damage, which causes bleeding and other symptoms.
- Esophageal Varices: These are enlarged veins in the esophagus that can rupture and cause bleeding. Esophageal Varices are often caused by liver disease.
- Peptic Ulcers: They are open sores that grow in the small or stomach intestinal lining. Peptic ulcers can result in bleeding as well as other symptoms including nausea and back ache.
- Infections: There are some serious infections that have an impact on inflammation and bleeding in the digestive tract.
Less Threatening Causes:
- Hemorrhoids: These enlarged veins in the rectum or anus might result in bleeding during bowel activities. Hemorrhoids are a common cause of bright red blood in the stool.
- Anal Fissures: These are tiny rips in the anus lining that could result in bleeding during bowel movements. Constipation or diarrhea frequently results in anal fissures.
- Diverticulitis: Inflammation and the formation of tiny pouches in the colon are symptoms of this illness. Diverticulitis can result in bleeding in addition to certain other symptoms including fever and abdominal pain.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): IBS is a common digestive disorder that can cause abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. In some cases, it can also cause bleeding in the stool.
- Medications: If you are on some medications such as aspirin and blood thinners for a longer period, there is a chance to have the risk of bleeding in the digestive tract.
So, these are the most common reasons for blood in your stool. However, it is important to note that blood in the stool can also be caused by other less common conditions such as radiation proctitis, ischemic colitis, and anal cancer.
What Are The Warning Signs Of Colon Cancer?
It’s important to pay attention to the warning signs of colorectal cancer. It is a type of cancer that affects the colon or rectum and is a significant contributor to cancer-related deaths worldwide.
In Singapore, it is one of the leading causes of death, affecting over 1,865 individuals annually. It often develops slowly over several years, usually beginning as a small growth called a polyp.
In the early stages, there may be no symptoms. However, as cancer grows and spreads, it can cause a range of warning signs, including:
- Blood in stool
- Changes in bowel habits
- Abdominal pain
- Unintended weight loss
If the bleeding is frequent and dark red, it could indicate colorectal cancer, particularly if it is accompanied by any of these symptoms. It is important to note, though, that not all cases of blood in the stool are caused by cancer. Most cases of blood in stool are caused by less serious conditions, such as hemorrhoids or anal fissures.
If you experience persistent or dark red blood in your stool, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention.
A thorough evaluation can determine the underlying cause of the bleeding and the most appropriate course of treatment.
It is recommended that anyone experiencing any of these symptoms, particularly those over 50 years of age or with a family history of colorectal cancer, should undergo regular screening to detect any potential cancer at an early stage.
How Do I Be Sure That The Blood In My Stool Is Not Colon Cancer?
If you notice blood in your stool, it is natural to be concerned about the possibility of colon cancer. Fortunately, there are diagnostic examinations that can assist in identifying the underlying cause if you are concerned about the potential development of colon cancer.
A colonoscopy is a commonly used diagnostic test to detect colon cancer. A long, flexible tube with a camera on it is put into the rectum during a colonoscopy and is then navigated into the colon. This allows a doctor to visually inspect the colon for any abnormalities or signs of cancer.
- Fecal Occult Blood Test
In addition to colonoscopy, fecal occult blood tests are another diagnostic test used to detect colon cancer. These tests look for hidden blood in the stool.
- CT Colonography
CT colonography is a test that uses a CT scan to create detailed images of the colon.
- Digital Rectal Exam
Besides these diagnostic procedures, your doctor may also inquire about your health history and any current symptoms. They may also conduct a physical examination, including a digital rectal check, to look for any signs of abnormality in the rectum or anus.
It’s important to seek medical attention immediately if you notice blood in your stool in order of finding the true cause and receive appropriate treatment. Early detection of colon cancer can improve the chances of successful treatment and recovery.
What Happens If Blood In The Stool Is Not Serious?
As we discussed earlier, in most cases, blood in stool is caused by less serious conditions such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or small tears in the rectum.
These conditions may cause bright red blood in the stool or on the toilet paper after wiping. The bleeding may occur during bowel movements, but it is usually painless and does not last long. These are known as not-so-serious symptoms.
However, if you experience blood in your stool and have identified that it is not a serious condition, you should still take action to manage the underlying condition.
This may include adopting healthy lifestyle changes such as drinking more water and eating a balanced diet to prevent constipation. You can also use over-the-counter medications such as stool softeners or topical creams to alleviate the discomfort.
It’s important to monitor your symptoms and seek medical attention if they persist or worsen. The risk of having more severe diseases can increase if you have a family history of colon cancer or other gastrointestinal disorders. In such cases, regular screenings and check-ups with your doctor are recommended to catch any potential issues early.
What Should I Do If It’s Colon Cancer?
To create a treatment plan that is specific to your requirements, it is crucial that you cooperate and communicate with your healthcare professionals after receiving a diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Treatment for colon cancer often includes surgical removal of cancer as well as radiation or chemotherapy to eliminate any persistent cancer cells.
In addition to seeking medical attention, it is indeed important to take care of your whole well-being by adopting a healthy diet, exercising often, and avoiding excessive alcohol and tobacco usage.
The survival rate of colorectal cancer is over 90 percent if it’s detected early. In Singapore, the survival rate for people with Stage 1 colorectal cancer ranges from 85 to 95 percent. For people who receive this diagnosis, there is still a significant deal of hope!
Treatments For Colon Cancer
Which treatments are most likely to help you depends on your particular situation, including the location of your cancer, its stage, and your other health concerns.
Treatments For Early-Stage Colon Cancer
- Polypectomy– If your cancer is small, this treatment can be performed
- Endoscopic mucosal resection– Using special tools to remove the polyp and a small amount of the inner lining of the colon
- Laparoscopic surgery– Polyps that can’t be removed during a colonoscopy may be removed using laparoscopic surgery
Treatments For Advanced Colon Cancer
- Surgery– This is not a treatment to cure cancer, instead it relieves signs and symptoms, such as blockage, bleeding, or pain.
- Radiation therapy– Use of X-rays and protons, to kill cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy– When performing Chemotherapy, the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells is what happens
- Targeted therapy– This treatment does the blocking of specific abnormalities letting the cancer cells die
- Immunotherapy– Immunotherapy incorporates a drug treatment to your immune system to increase the capability to fight the cancer
When To See A Doctor For Blood In Stool
If you encounter any of the below, it is good to consult a doctor:
- Continuous Bleeding: It’s essential to get professional care if you notice blood in your stool for several consecutive days.
- Dark, Tarry Stools: Dark or tarry stools may indicate bleeding in the upper digestive tract, such as the stomach or small intestine.
- Abdominal Pain Or Discomfort: Abdominal pain or discomfort: If you experience abdominal pain or discomfort along with blood in your stool, it may be a sign of a more severe issue.
- Changes In Bowel Habits: Blood in stool, combined with changes in bowel habits such as diarrhea or constipation, could indicate a more serious issue.
- Family history: You might have an increased risk and should speak with your doctor if your family has a history of colorectal cancer or other digestive diseases.
In general, it is important to remain cautious and seek medical assistance if you observe blood in your stool, even if you think a less serious illness may be to cause.
Early Detection Is The Best Prevention
At the Centre for Screening and Surgery (CSS), our focus is providing medical care for identifying and diagnosing cancer in its early stages. For screening, diagnosis, and treatment, our medical team incorporates advanced technologies, such as high-definition gastroscopy and colonoscopy.
We are also equipped with the latest surgical technologies including Robotic Surgery. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you are experiencing any unusual symptoms.