Dr. Mutlu discusses what blood in the stool can mean.
Blood in the stool could come from a variety of reasons. The most, one of the most common reasons where one may see passage of blood from the rectum would be hemorrhoids or little cracks in the rectum called fissures. However, additionally blood in the stool can be seen with growths in the intestine that we call polyps. It can be seen with colon cancer, and it can be seen with inflammatory bowel disease.
So generally, when we examine blood in the stool, we sort of try to look at not only the sole symptom of bleeding, but we also ask our patients whether they do have additional symptoms to help us target towards one diagnosis or the other. Most people over the age of 35 to 40 for investigation of blood in the stool will need a colonoscopy and examination of the colon with a video camera to determine the exact cause, and most of the time the cause could be benign.
However, there are some instances where blood in the stool could be the first sign of an early tumor, and it makes a big difference to get a colonoscopy and get things diagnosed early, and it can save lives from cancers and tumors, it can lead to earlier treatments of inflammatory bowel disease, and it could, and it could prevent further problems from some of these diseases.
About Dr. Mutlu, M.D.:
Dr. Ece A. Mutlu, M.D., is Associate Professor of Medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in gastroenterology and nutrition, and her research interests include diet therapy in inflammatory bowel disease, role of microbiological flora on gastrointestinal illness, role of nutrition in gastrointestinal disease, complementary and alternative medicine for gastrointestinal disease, and antioxidant treatment of radiation proctitis.