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Can benign tumors cause blood in stool?

Blood in stool, also known as hematochezia, can be caused by a number of conditions, including benign tumors. While the presence of blood is always a cause for concern, it does not necessarily mean there is cancer present. Benign tumors in the colon, rectum or anus can sometimes erode the surface and cause bleeding. Other common causes of rectal bleeding from benign sources include hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and polyps.

What are some common benign tumors that can cause blood in stool?

Here are a few of the benign growths that may lead to blood in the stool:

  • Polyps – Polyps are abnormal tissue growths that form on the inside of the colon or rectum. While most polyps are benign, some types can become cancerous over time. Polyps often don’t cause symptoms unless they bleed or grow large enough to obstruct the bowel.
  • Hemorrhoids – Hemorrhoids are swollen, inflamed veins around the anus. They can develop internally or externally and may bleed during bowel movements. Straining or constipation can worsen hemorrhoids.
  • Angiodysplasias – These are benign blood vessel growths in the digestive tract. They can cause bleeding, especially in older adults. The cause is not totally clear but may be related to weak blood vessel walls.
  • Solitary rectal ulcer – This benign lesion occurs in the rectum, often related to persistent straining. Passing hard stool can damage the rectal lining, causing an ulcer that bleeds.

What symptoms may occur with benign tumors and rectal bleeding?

Symptoms that may happen along with blood in the stool from benign growths can include:

  • Bright red blood on toilet paper or in the toilet bowl after a bowel movement
  • Blood dripping or squirting from the anus
  • Blood on the surface of the stool
  • Constipation or diarrhea from a tumor obstructing the bowel
  • Pain or discomfort in the anus or lower abdomen
  • A feeling of needing to pass stool even after going
  • Sensation of incomplete bowel emptying

With hemorrhoids specifically, additional symptoms may include:

  • Itching around the anus
  • Swelling or lump near the anus
  • Leakage of feces
  • Painful bowel movements

How are benign tumors that cause rectal bleeding diagnosed?

Doctors use a combination of procedures and tests to diagnose benign tumors and identify the source of bleeding, including:

  • Medical history and physical exam – Your doctor will ask about symptoms, risk factors, and perform an exam of the anus and rectum.
  • Anoscopy or proctoscopy – Using a small scope inserted in the anus, the doctor views inside the anus and end of the rectum for abnormalities.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy – This test uses a flexible, lighted tube inserted in the rectum to check for polyps, cancer or hemorrhoids in the lower colon and rectum.
  • Colonoscopy – This procedure examines the full length of the colon with a camera on the end of a tube. It can find polyps, tumors or sources of bleeding.
  • Biopsies – Small tissue samples may be taken during a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy to be examined under a microscope.
  • CT colonography – This imaging test uses X-rays to create cross-sectional images of the entire colon and rectum.

How are benign tumors treated when they cause rectal bleeding?

Treatment depends on the specific type of tumor or growth found. Options may include:

  • Removing polyps – Polyps can often be removed during colonoscopy using tools passed through the scope. Removing prevents them from becoming malignant.
  • Hemorrhoid treatments – Hemorrhoids are managed with increased fiber, stool softeners, warm baths, OTC ointments and suppositories. Advanced cases may require procedures like rubber band ligation.
  • Endoscopy – Some small tumors can be removed through endoscopy using snares, radiofrequency devices or lasers.
  • Surgery – Larger polyps or tumors may need traditional surgery to remove part of the colon or rectum (partial colectomy).
  • Medications – Drugs that reduce tumor size, slow bleeding, or prevent recurrence may supplement other treatments.

When should you see a doctor for rectal bleeding?

It is important to see a doctor for any episode of rectal bleeding. While it may be coming from a benign source, the only way to know for sure is through medical evaluation. Other possible causes besides benign tumors include colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, infection, diverticulosis, and more serious conditions. Getting an accurate diagnosis is crucial, even if the bleeding stops on its own. Rectal bleeding should never be assumed to be from hemorrhoids without being evaluated first. The sooner benign tumors and other causes are identified, the sooner proper treatment can begin.


While alarming, blood in stool does not automatically mean cancer is present. Benign tumors like polyps, hemorrhoids and angiodysplasias can sometimes erode or bleed, leading to rectal bleeding. These abnormal growths in the colon, rectum or anus may produce bright red blood, especially noticeable on toilet paper after a bowel movement. Diagnosis requires exams and tests like a colonoscopy. Benign tumors can often be removed or treated through relatively minor procedures. However, it is crucial to see a doctor for any rectal bleeding episode to identify the cause and rule out serious conditions like colorectal cancer. Catching problems early allows benign tumors to be dealt with before they grow or have a chance to become malignant.