Colon cancer has been in the news a lot lately, and this is good since it is raising awareness of the disease, which should increase early detection and treatment rates. However, knowing that colon cancer can cause blood to appear in your stool may send you into a panic if you one day experience this symptom. Here's the good news: colon cancer is not the only problem that can cause blood to appear in your stool. Here are four other possible causes of bloody stool:


Is the blood bright red? It may be coming from a hemorrhoid, which is a swollen vein in the anal area. Hemorrhoids can cause feelings of pain and pressure when you pass stool. Then may bleed often, or just occasionally. The good news is that they are easy to manage. There are creams you can apply to shrink and soothe them, and in the worst cases you can have them surgically repaired.

Anal Fissures

Are you feeling acute pain in your anal area -- and is the blood bright red? If these symptoms came on after you passed a particularly hard stool, they may be due to an anal fissure, which is basically a small tear in the tissue around your anus. Place some antibiotic ointment on the sore area; it should heal up in a day or two.


If the blood is very black and looks to have been well digested, it may be coming from an ulcer. Ulcers are basically holes in the lining of the stomach or small intestine. They bleed, introducing blood to your digestive system. Ulcers may also cause stomach and upper chest pain after eating. They can be caused or made worse by stress and medications like aspirin. The good news is that they are easier to treat than colon cancer. Your doctor may recommend a modified diet and acid-reduction medications to allow the ulcer to heal.

Noncancerous Polyps

It's possible that you have some bleeding polyps in your colon that are non-cancerous. These would be akin to non-cancerous moles on your skin. Your doctor will want to remove them since they can turn cancerous later on, but you won't have to undergo any chemo, radiation, or other extensive treatments as you would with colon cancer.

If you notice blood in your stool, do not assume it is due to colon cancer. Schedule an appointment with your gastroenterologist to get checked out. Although there is a chance it is cancer, it's more likely that you have one of the more minor issues discussed above.