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Rectal bleeding

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Rectal bleeding indicates that the patient complains of the presence of blood passed per rectum. The patient is not simply faecal occult blood positive.

It is a common symptom in adults of all ages.

In the vast majority of patients in primary care, the cause will be benign and most often a benign anorectal condition such as haemorrhoids and/or an anal fissure. However, rectal bleeding may be a symptom of colorectal cancer or ulcerative colitis (1).

It must not be attributed to haemorrhoids without proper investigation.


  1. Walsh CJ, Delaney S, Rowlands A. Rectal bleeding in general practice: new guidance on commissioning. Br J Gen Pract. 2018 Nov;68(676):514-515.

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