Cancer Keys: Rectal bleeding

Potential pitfall:

Rectal bleeding is a key symptom of colorectal cancer, but there are also a number of other benign causes. Tumours often bleed intermittently, so careful history taking is vital if other concerning symptoms are present.

Helpful hint:

NICE NG12 guidelines recommends referring adults using a suspected cancer pathway referral (for an appointment within 2 weeks) if they are 50 and over with unexplained rectal bleeding; and to consider a referral in adults aged under 50 with rectal bleeding and any of the following unexplained symptoms or findings:

  • abdominal pain
  • change in bowel habit
  • weight loss
  • iron‑deficiency anaemia.

Cancer Keys are brought to you by GatewayC.

Find out more:

  • Download this Cancer Key here
  • Read NICE NG12 guidance here
  • Access GatewayC’s Colorectal Cancer – Early Diagnosis course here

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