Rectal bleeding (bleeding from the bottom)is often noticed as small amounts of bright-red blood on toilet paper or a few droplets that turn the water in the toilet pink.
In general, bright-red blood means the bleeding has come from somewhere near your anus and is a typical sign of piles (haemorrhoids) or a small tear (anal fissure) in the skin of your anus.
Although these are common problems, don't let embarrassment stop you seeing your GP. You should always get rectal bleeding checked to rule out more serious causes. Around 10% of adults experience rectal bleeding every year in the UK.
If the blood is darker in colour and sticky, the bleeding may have occurred higher up your digestive system. This type of bleeding can turn your faeces black or plum-coloured (known as melaena).
Havingplum-coloured, dark and sticky faeces may be a medical emergency you should see your GP immediately or contact NHS 111 .
If your GP needs to examine you to find out what's causing your rectal bleeding, they may carry out a rectal examination . This involves putting a gloved finger inside your bottom (rectum).
There's no need to feel embarrassed or nervous: it's a quick and painless procedure that GPs are used to doing.
The examination usually takes one to five minutes, depending on whether your GP finds anything unusual.
You may be referred to a hospital or specialist clinic if further examinations and tests are needed.
Many people with rectal bleeding worry they may have bowel cancer. While rectal bleeding can be a sign of early-stage bowel cancer, other factors may also be present for your doctor to think you're at risk.
You should be urgently referred to a specialist with suspected bowel cancer if you have rectal bleeding and:
Bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer, depending on where the cancer starts.
Find out more about bowel cancer , and read the NICE guidelines for being referred with suspectedcancer .
Some of the most common causes of visible rectal bleeding in adults are outlined below. However, don't try to diagnose yourself, and always see your GP for a proper diagnosis.
Click on the links for more information about these causes.
Some of the more unusual causes of rectal bleeding include:
Rectal bleeding (bleeding from the bottom) is often noticed as small amounts of bright-red blood on toilet paper or a few droplets that turn the water in the toilet pink. Although these are common problems, don't let embarrassment stop you seeing your GP.
Lester and his wife Carolyn talk about his experience of bowel cancer, and offer their advice to others.