Colon polyps are a common condition that affect up to 30 percent of older adults in the US. This condition is characterized by a small cluster of cells that form on the lining of the colon, also known as the large intestine. Most polyps are not cancerous and are simply a result of abnormal cell growth, but some can gradually turn into colon cancer, so regular screening and removal of all polyps is important.
Small polyps do not usually cause symptoms, but larger ones may cause rectal bleeding, bloody stools, constipation, diarrhea or pain. Polyps can form anywhere within the large intestine and are can vary in size and appearance depending on the type. The three main types of colon polyps are:
Adenomatous - most common and account for 75% of all colon polyps. If they are larger than about 5 millimeters, there is an increased risk of becoming cancerous
Hyperplastic - usually smaller than 5 millimeters and rarely cancerous
Inflammatory - may occur as a result of ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease and are usually benign
Certain factors may put you at a higher risk for developing colon polyps. Some of these factors include being over the age of 50, being male, a family history of polyps, smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity. Regular colon screenings are recommended for people over the age of 50. If any abnormalities are found or you are experiencing signs of colon polyps, your doctor may perform a series of diagnostic tests such as a digital rectal exam, barium enema, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.
If a colon polyp is discovered, it will likely be removed in order to prevent the chance of cancer. Most polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, while others may be burned with an electrical current or surgically removed. Surgical removal can often be performed laparoscopically to minimize scarring and recovery time.
You can help reduce your risk of developing colon polyps and cancer by having regular screenings and maintaining an active and healthy life. Talk to your doctor about different steps you can take.
To learn more about our Polyps Services, please contact us at (516) 627-5262 today to schedule an appointment.