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Rectal bleeding

Patient delay in presentation

  • Original Contributions
  • Published:
Diseases of the Colon & Rectum


Patient delay in presentation of rectal bleeding has been identified as a factor in delayed diagnosis among patients with colo-rectal cancer. The aim of this study was to identify demographic or psychological factors, or beliefs or behaviors related to delay in presentation of rectal bleeding. In 93 patients presenting with this symptom to their general practitioner, delay ranged from 0 to 249 days with a median of 7 days; 27 (29 percent) delayed more than 14 days. Delay was unrelated to age, sex, ethnic origin, competence in English, length of schooling, social status, availability of social support, measured psychologic traits, and to the belief that the cause might be cancer. The proportions delaying more than 14 days were statistically significantly elevated among those who were not worried by the bleeding (47 percent delayed); those who did not regularly look at their feces or the toilet paper after use (37 percent); and those who took some other action before presenting to their general practitioner (43 percent).

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Work was conducted at Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, New South Wales, Australia.

Study was supported by a grant from the New South Wales State Cancer Council.

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Dent, O.F., Goulston, K.J., Tennant, C.C. et al. Rectal bleeding. Dis Colon Rectum 33, 851–857 (1990).

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