Is my poo supposed to look like that?

Know the signs of colorectal cancer.


It’s probably a long time since you had an adult conversation about No. 2, even with your doctor. And that’s perfectly okay. 

But sometimes there’s a change in your bathroom habits. You don’t know if it’s normal, or a reason to worry. When should you blame a bad burrito? And when should you talk to your doctor about what happens in the bathroom?

Most changes you see in your stool are caused by something you ate. For example, you can get hard stool from eating too little fiber. Or drinking too little water. 

A bright red color can be a sign of a problem. It can also come from taking certain medicines, or even just eating beets.


Get screened


Schedule your colon cancer screening. 

Find care in your state 


One of the most serious medical problems that can affect stool is colorectal cancer. That's cancer of the large intestine or rectum. Often, this type of cancer shows no symptoms at all. 

Signs of colorectal cancer

The signs of colorectal cancer include:

  • Blood in or on the stool
  • Bleeding from the rectum 
  • Changes in bowel habits, like bigger or smaller stool, or going more or less often
  • Stools that are narrower than usual, which can be caused by a growth that partly blocks the intestine
  • General stomach pains (bloating, fullness, cramps, etc.)
  • Throwing up
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or the feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
  • Frequent gas pains
  • Weight loss for no clear reason
  • Feeling tired all the time, or getting tired out by something you used to enjoy doing with no problem

These symptoms have many different causes. It’s not unusual to get any of them for a few days or so. But if they last for more than two weeks, see your doctor as soon as you can. It isn’t normal. You may need to get a quick colon cancer screening, such as a colonoscopy.

Most people think it’s strange to share the details of their bathroom visits. But if you know when you should, it can save your life. 


Will Medicare cover a colon cancer screening?


Original Medicare covers these tests at 100% of the Medicare-approved amount when you get them from a provider who accepts Medicare

  • Fecal occult blood test
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy

You pay nothing (no deductible or coinsurance).

Medicare Advantage plans must also cover them without applying deductibles, copays, or coinsurance when you: 

  • See a network provider, and 
  • Meet Medicare’s rules for the service


  • Medicare Interactive 
  • American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.