Find out if bloody stools can be the only symptom of colon cancer.

How likely is it that if you see blood in your stools, but do not have any other symptoms (e.g., unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain), that you can actually have colon cancer?

“Colon cancer often presents with no symptoms,” says Michael Blume, MD, a gastroenterologist at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, Baltimore.

You’re probably wondering how such a patient’s colon cancer is then discovered if there are no symptoms.

It may be found incidentally, via imaging for an unrelated issue, or during a routine colonoscopy.

“Not all colon cancers bleed, and when they do bleed, it’s often is not visible, i.e., occult bleeding, which can be picked up on chemical tests, but not visible,” says Dr. Blume.

“This is why it is very important to have screening colonoscopies at the appropriate time, even if you have no symptoms.  Remember that lack of symptoms does not mean lack of a problem.”

Blood in Bowel Movements and Colon Cancer

“Colon cancers usually do not cause tarry stools,” continues Dr. Blume.

“The bleeding that one sees is usually bright red or maroon.  Bleeding may be the only sign that one may see, even with an advanced cancer.

“One can see pain, bowel dysfunction, weight loss, etc., with colon cancer.

“Usually, when one sees these symptoms when they are related to a colon cancer, it is often quite advanced.

“It is important to understand, however, that if one sees bleeding per rectum, the lack of other symptoms, such as pain, bowel dysfunction, weight loss, etc., does not mean that one does not have a cancer.”

In practice for 20+ years, Dr. Blume treats over 65 conditions including abdominal pain, appetite loss, blood in stool, celiac disease, colon cancer, esophageal and liver disease, gas and IBS.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 
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