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Rectal cancer mimic: a rare case of syphilitic proctitis
  1. Rajashri Veeresh Patil1,
  2. Iain Stephenson2,
  3. Cathy J Richards3 and
  4. Yvette Griffin1
  1. 1Radiology, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester, UK
  2. 2Infectious Diseases Unit, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester, UK
  3. 3Pathology, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rajashri Veeresh Patil; rajukalappanavar{at}


Syphilitic proctitis is a rare presentation of sexually transmitted infection that poses a diagnostic challenge as it mimics rectal cancer clinically, radiologically and endoscopically. We report a case of a 66-year-old male patient with a background of HIV infection presenting with obstructive bowel symptoms and initial diagnosis of rectal cancer on CT. Sigmoidoscopy and histopathology were non-diagnostic. A diagnosis of secondary syphilis was suspected after obtaining sexual history and diagnostic serology, avoiding planned surgical intervention.

  • infection (gastroenterology)
  • HIV / AIDS
  • syphilis
  • radiology

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  • Contributors RP and YG were involved in the patient’s direct care by reporting some of the relevant imaging during the patient’s hospital admission with details provided in the case report. RP collected the relevant data and drafted the case report under the supervision of YG. Both authors contributed to the final version of the manuscript. IS was the consultant in infectious diseases and CR was the consultant histopathologist also involved in the patient’s care. Both have also contributed to the paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.