Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Passing Blood In Your Stool

Bright red blood from the anus mixed with stools is a symptom of many gastro-intestinal diseases, such as infections (amoebiasis, typhoid ileitis, diverticulitis), inflammation (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis), vascular problems (bleeding peptic ulcers and hemorrhoids), trauma and neoplasms (bleeding polyps or cancer).

Of these causes, colorectal cancer is perhaps the most dreaded. Usually, bleeding from colorectal cancer is accompanied by other symptoms such as changers in bowel habits. Patients experience constipation or diarrhea, abdominal pain and sudden weight loss. The risk of developing colorectal cancer becomes higher with a low fiber, high fat diet and a family history of colorectal cancer.

To diagnose colorectal cancer, a doctor first performs a rectal exam to check for palpable masses. He may then request a gastroenterologist to perform a colonoscopy using an instrument designed to see the entire colon. If there are suspicious masses, then a biopsy will be done via the colonoscope. Sedation is often necessary for this.

Colonoscopy is usually recommended as a screening tool for those who are at risk for developing colorectal cancer, such as those who have had benign polyps or cancer before, or who have relatives with colon cancer or inflammatory bowel diseases. This is usually done at age 50, but those who are at high risk can have this done much earlier.



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