- Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: A Guide for Patients and Families
- Anxiety, fear, and emotional distress
- Appetite, poor
- Blood counts
- Blood in stool
- Blood in urine
- Fluids (lack of) and dehydration
- Grooming and appearance
- Hair loss
- Leg cramps
- Mouth, bleeding in
- Mouth dryness
- Mouth sores
- Nausea and vomiting
- Scars and wounds
- Shortness of breath
- Skin color changes
- Skin dryness
- Skin (pressure) sores
- Sleep problems
- Stomas (or ostomies)
- Swallowing problems
- Treatment at home
- Tubes and IV lines
- Weight changes
- When death is approaching
- To learn more
Blood in stool
Blood in the stool may be caused by irritation of the bowel during a bowel movement. It can also be caused by straining very hard, by an ulcer or a tumor in the bowel, by hemorrhoids (enlarged blood vessels in or around the anus), by a pressure sore or ulcer in the anal area, or by a low platelet count. (See the section called “Blood counts.”)
What to look for
- Blood on toilet tissue
- Blood on underwear, sheets, or underpads
- Streaks of blood in stool
- Bright red blood from rectum
- Dark red or black bowel movements (But remember that eating beets can cause red stools, and iron tablets or bismuth medicines such as Pepto-Bismol® and Kaopectate® can cause black stools for 2 to 3 days. This is normal.)
What the patient can do
- Check how much blood is being passed.
- Avoid placing anything in the rectum, including suppositories, enemas, thermometers, etc.
- Keep stool soft by taking in plenty of fluids and fiber.
- Use stool softeners if OK with your doctor.
- Wash anal area very carefully with warm, soapy water, rinse well, and pat dry.
- Take a sitz bath (sitting in warm water), which may be helpful for hemorrhoids.
What caregivers can do
- Help the patient watch for bleeding.
- Offer extra fluids, fruits, and vegetables to keep the patient’s stool soft.
Call the doctor if the patient:
- Has blood on toilet tissue 2 or more times
- Has blood streaks in stool
- Has bright red blood coming from rectum
- Has dark red or black stools
Last Medical Review: 11/05/2013
Last Revised: 11/05/2013