A colon polyp is a small growth on the inner lining of your large intestine (colon). Your colon is a tube-like organ that collects your stool.
Most polyps are harmless. Polyps can occur in any part of your colon. Colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. By having a colon polyp removed, you may have significantly reduced your risk of developing colon cancer.
There are several types of polyps. Your doctor will tell you the type of polyp present and when you will need to return for a repeat examination.
The three most commonly found polyps are:
The majority of polyps. Only 5% progress to cancer. Doctors remove all adenomatous polyps that are found. Current theories state that it takes about 10 years for a small adenoma to become cancer.
They are usually small and generally do not become cancerous.
Sessile Serrated polyps
Some risk of turning into cancer. Doctor remove all sessile serrated polyps.
Anyone can develop colon polyps. Most colon polyps do not cause symptoms. However, any bleeding in your stool may be a sign of more serious conditions and must always be discussed with your doctor.
We do not know exactly what causes polyps to form, but we can reduce the risks of developing more polyps by:
•Cutting smoking and alcohol
•Increasing exercise and losing weight
•Decreasing red meat intake and increasing fruits and vegetables
Your doctor may also have additional ideas that they want to share with you. Do not be afraid to ask!
Polyps are removed using an instrument called a colonoscope. This is a long flexible tube which is attached to a video camera.
What is Screening Colonoscopy?
• Screening refers to a colon exam that is done in patients without any symptoms.
• Screening should occur at age 50 in the white population and age 45 in the black population.
• A screening colonoscopy should occur every 10 years.
• If a polyp is found, the evaluation will probably occur before 10 years depending on the polyp size and type.
Risk Factors for Polyp Formation Include:
• Personal history of polyps or colon cancer
• Family history of polyps or colon cancer (parents, brothers, sisters, children)
• Age -Most people with polyps are older than 50
Once you speak with your doctor, they will tell you when you need to return for another colonoscopy. When you return depends on:
• How clean the colon was for the colonoscopy
• The type of polyp found
• The size of the polyp
• Number of polyps
• Family history of polyps/cancer
Your doctor may also discuss other things that are important for a follow up exam.
• Colonoscopy screening and follow-up reduces the risk of colon cancer
• When you prepare for the colonoscopy, make sure you understand and follow all directions
• The cleaner your colon, the better your exam
• Make sure you know when you are due for your next colonoscopy
To Learn More
Colonoscopy and Colon Cancer (2019 with Dr. Mark Pochapin)
Colorectal Cancer Prevention: Colonoscopy and Polypectomy (2019 with Dr. Mark Pochapin)