Rectal Bleeding and Rectal Cancer

Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
I have had rectal bleeding for about one week. This has happened before several months ago and stopped.

I am seeing a Doctor about this later this month and am convinced I have rectal cancer. What are the other causes of rectal bleeding?

The OncoLink Editorial Team responds:

Dear OncoLink Reader:
Thank you for your question.

While rectal bleeding may be caused by adenocarcinoma of the rectum, most cases of rectal bleeding are due to other conditions. Rectal bleeding is not an uncommon symptom and is usually caused by benign disorders. The two most common causes of rectal bleeding are hemorrhoids and anal fissures (cuts). Other causes might be changes in defacatory habits, infectious, inflammatory, functional, drug side effects, rectal prolapse and ulcers etc.

However, rectal bleeding may be secondary to more serious disorders including rectal and colon cancer and always warrants medical attention. Even if the rectal bleeding stops on its own, medical advice must be sought and a cause of the bleed must be determined.