Rectal Bleeding: Rectal bleeding (anal bleeding) can refer to any blood that passes from your anus, although it usually refers to bleeding from the lower colon or rectum. Rectal bleeding may show up as blood in your stool, on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. Blood that results from anal bleeding can range from bright red to dark maroon. Rectal bleeding may occur for many reasons including constipation and hemorrhoids, however, do not try to diagnose yourself, and always see your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
In general, bright-red blood means the bleeding has come from somewhere near your anus. If the blood is darker in colour and sticky, the bleeding may have occurred higher up your digestive system. This type of bleeding can turn your faeces black or plum-coloured (known as melaena).
Having plum-coloured, dark and sticky faeces may be a medical emergency – you should see your doctor immediately or contact the Emergency Services.
You should be urgently referred to a specialist with suspected bowel cancer if you have rectal bleeding and:
you are aged 40 or older and have passed looser or more frequent stools for the last six weeks
you are aged 60 or older and the bleeding has lasted for six weeks or more
your GP has found an abnormality (such as a lump) after examining you
you also have anaemia, a reduced number of red blood cells
you have a family history of bowel cancer
you have ulcerative colitis
Don't let embarrassment stop you seeing your doctor. You should always get anal bleeding checked to rule out more serious causes. Having plum-coloured, dark and sticky faeces may be a medical emergency – you should see your doctor immediately or contact the Emergency Services.