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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is blood in the stool a symptom of cancer of the bowel?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 6


    Bowel Cancer Australia is the leading community-funded charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and care for everyone affected by bowel cancer. We … View Profile

    Possible signs of bowel cancer include blood in the stool.

    In its early stages, bowel cancer often has no symptoms.  This is why it is important to screen. Like most diseases, bowel cancer can often cause symptoms which are similar to other unrelated conditions.
    If you are experiencing blood in the stool, it does not mean that you have bowel cancer, but it is very important you discuss them with your doctor. 
    Whilst bowel cancer is more common in people aged 50+, bowel cancer increasingly affects all age groups.
    If you have higher-risk symptoms, do not accept ‘you’re too young to have bowel cancer' as an explanation for your symptoms - ask your doctor to be referred for further investigations.
    Information taken from the Bowel Cancer Australia website

  • Dr Simon Benstock


    Dr Simon Benstock completed his advanced training in Gastroenterology at Prince of Wales and St Vincent’s hospitals in Sydney. His major interests are colon cancer … View Profile

    It can be, so it is important to have that excluded.

  • 3


    Dr Michael Swan


    Michael Swan is a Gastroenterologist specialising in endoscopy, pancreaticobiliary disease and gastrointestinal cancer screening. Michael trained in clinical endoscopy with leaders in the field both … View Profile

    Blood in the stool can be from a variety of causes including bowel/colorectal cancer.

    It is a symptom that you should discuss with your local doctor or GP.

    When patients present with bleeding from the bowel, there are a several causes that need to be considered including     

    • haemorrhoids
    • diverticular disease
    • inflammatory bowel disease
    • anal fissure/tear
    • colorectal polyp
    • colorectal cancer
    • infective diarrhoea 
    The diagnosis of the cause can be suggestive on the history and possibly also at examination, however some form of internal examination such as a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy would be recommended to conclusively rule out conditions such as a cancer, polyp or diverticular disease.

    As the Bowel Cancer Australia response states although bowel cancer more commonly affects people over the age of 50, even younger patients can be affected. 

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