Hematochezia in the Young Patient: A Review of Health-Seeking Behavior, Physician Attitudes, and Controversies in Management
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Hematochezia, defined as the passage of blood or clots from the rectum, is common and can be quite alarming. Few patients in general consult their physicians for this symptom. Various reasons have been explored for this behavior. Physician attitudes also shed some light onto why some patients are referred and others are not. Hematochezia may be associated with an anal cause in most healthy young adults (<50 years of age), but some may end up being diagnosed with colorectal cancer (CRC). Many studies have looked at the usefulness of clinical presentation in helping to decide which patients need further evaluation and what the optimal mode of investigation should be. Of note, studies on patients less than 50 years of age presenting with rectal bleeding have been few and far between. The results of these studies have been contradictory to the point where, today, there is no single set of consensus guidelines on the approach to hematochezia in young patients. In this review, the value of clinical symptoms and the underlying risk of CRC in guiding this clinical decision will be discussed.
KeywordsClinical presentation Hematochezia Delayed diagnosis Colorectal cancer Young patients
We are indebted to Drs Richard Goodgame and Hashem El-Serag for their critical review of this article.
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