Blood in the stool or bloody bowel movements is also known as rectal bleeding. Most of the time rectal bleeding is due to non-serious conditions such as hemorrhoids or anal fissures (anal tears). However, certain serious conditions may present as rectal bleeding. These conditions include rectal cancer, colon cancer, polyps, and inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis to name a few.

It is of utmost importance to contact a doctor if you notice blood in your stool. If you are over 40, there is an increased risk of colon cancer. If your physician is concerned about the blood in your stool and there are no obvious causes (such as hemorrhoids), he or she may order several tests for further evaluation. These tests include anoscopy, examination of the anal canal and lower rectum for hemorrhoids and tears. If the results are normal, he may order a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Both of these tests involve placing a light into the rectum with a camera attached so that the inside of your rectum and colon can be viewed. If any suspicious lesions are present, your physician may biopsy them.

Always contact a physician if you experience rectal bleeding.