Can Chemo Cause Blood in Stool?

Women Getting chemotherapy (chemo) Treatment in Hospital

Yes, chemotherapy (chemo) can potentially cause gastrointestinal side effects, including symptoms such as blood in the stool. While not a common side effect of all chemotherapy drugs, certain medications used in chemotherapy can affect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and result in various gastrointestinal issues.

Chemotherapy-induced gastrointestinal problems may include:

  • Mucositis: Chemotherapy drugs can damage the lining of the digestive tract, leading to inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes in the mouth, throat, stomach, or intestines. This damage can result in bleeding, which may manifest as blood in the stool.
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding: Some chemotherapy drugs may cause irritation or ulceration in the digestive tract, leading to bleeding. This bleeding can occur in the stomach, esophagus, or intestines and may be seen in the stool.
  • Increased susceptibility to infections: Chemotherapy can weaken the immune system, making individuals more prone to infections. Gastrointestinal infections can also lead to inflammation and bleeding in the digestive tract, resulting in blood in the stool.

If someone undergoing chemotherapy notices blood in their stool, it’s crucial to inform their healthcare provider immediately. Blood in the stool can be a concerning symptom and might indicate various conditions, including gastrointestinal irritation, ulcers, infections, or other underlying issues.

Healthcare providers can perform diagnostic tests, such as stool tests, blood tests, endoscopic procedures (like colonoscopy or upper endoscopy), or imaging studies, to identify the cause of the bleeding and determine an appropriate course of action.

It’s essential for individuals undergoing chemotherapy to maintain open communication with their healthcare team regarding any new or concerning symptoms they experience. Prompt reporting of symptoms like blood in the stool helps in timely evaluation and management to ensure proper care and support during cancer treatment.

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