Bowel symptoms in an apparently well population

Dis Colon Rectum. 1986 Apr;29(4):243-7. doi: 10.1007/BF02553027.


The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of various kinds of bowel behavior and symptoms thought to be indicative of colorectal cancer in people randomly selected from the community. A probability sample of 330 dwellings in the inner western suburbs of Sydney yielded 202 completed interviews with occupants aged 30 years and older. Eight percent reported annoying abdominal pain that had lasted for two weeks or more in the preceding six months, while 19 percent reported a feeling of incomplete evacuation at least once every two weeks. Blood on the toilet paper was reported by 14 percent and blood in the toilet bowl by 2 percent. Twenty-one percent said they always looked at their stool in the toilet bowl and 34 percent always looked at the toilet paper after using it, but 43 percent seldom or never looked at either their stool or the paper. Of the 75 who said they looked at their stool about half the time or more, two (3.1 percent) reported seeing blood during the preceding six months. Symptoms that may be associated with colorectal cancer are common in apparently well adults. Whilst this includes bleeding from the rectum in toto, it may not be true for blood seen specifically in the toilet bowl. Because this latter symptom has potential discriminating value, it may be worthwhile to promote public education encouraging people to inspect their stools regularly, and to visit their doctor if blood is seen.

MeSH terms

  • Colonic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Defecation
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Rectum
  • Surveys and Questionnaires