Colon polyps are small growths that may be found in the rectum and lining of the colon. While colon polyps are not cancer, colon cancer most often does begin with polyps. Having numerous colon polyps at once is not uncommon. Removing those polyps will lower the chance of having colorectal cancer, which is the second higher cause of cancer death in the United States.
Anyone can develop colon polyps at any time, but some things give you a higher chance of developing them.
In a typical case, your doctor will recommend screening starting at the age of 50 for a patient at average risk for colon cancer. For African Americans some gastroenterology societies recommend starting screening at 45 years of age. If you have a higher risk, such as a family member with colon polyps or colon cancer, then your doctor may recommend screening before you are 50 years of age.
In most cases, colon polyps are not associated with symptoms, which is why screening is so important. However, if you do have symptoms, they will consist of the below:
There are a few different tests that that are approved for screening for colon polyps. These include stool tests (that check for blood or abnormal DNA), imaging studies (ct scans of the colon), or colonoscopy . Colonoscopy is the gold standard for detecting and treating polyps – as it has the highest success rate for findings polyps and is the only method to remove them. Colonoscopy uses a flexible narrow tube with a light and camera to look inside your colon and rectum. It can also show ulcers, cancer, polyps, and swollen tissue. Having a colonoscopy reduces your overall risk of dying from colon cancer.
Colon polyps can be removed during colonoscopy by your gastroenterologist. Specialized instruments to remove polyps can be passed through the colonoscope. A pathologist will then go over the results and submit a report back to your doctor. In most cases, doctors can remove polyps without surgery. If you do have polyps, your gastroenterologist will likely ask you to be tested more regularly in the future, to make sure new polyps do not grow.
Are you interested in learning more about colon polyps and colon cancer screening? We invite you to contact us to learn more. Dr. Prashant Kedia is a therapeutic endoscopist and gastroenterologist serving patients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and beyond. Call today to schedule an appointment at (214) 941-6891.