Most people would rather not think about rectal bleeding. Many tend to shrug off an incident as a case of hemorrhoids, but it could be the sign of a deeper problem.

“We see a lot of people in our office for rectal bleeding and bright red blood on the tissue paper and toilet. Sometimes it can be accompanied by rectum pain. A lot of people think ‘oh it’s just hemorrhoids’ and that’s not always the case,” says Dr. Jeffrey Neale, colorectal surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins that can turn bowel movements into intensely painful experiences. While 75% of people will have at least one occurrence, other conditions present this way too, including clotted hemorrhoids and fissures.

“In the office we would do a full body exam and then specifically look around for the rectal area and make sure there’s no abnormalities. And then they would undergo a digital rectal exam to make sure there’s no obvious masses inside the anal canal,” says Neale.

The most important thing to rule out is cancer. Colorectal screening generally begins at age 50, but if someone is experiencing symptoms such as bleeding, doctors recommend a colonoscopy.

“If they present with painless bleeding and there’s nothing seen on the outside of that area, then we are concerned about internal hemorrhoids or polyps or definitely cancer,” says Dr. Neale.

Tests may well confirm hemorrhoids. Understanding the cause of your bleeding should give you a measure of relief.

View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

Visit leememorial.org

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