Colon Polyps: Should You be Concerned?

Colon polyps are small clumps of cells that form in the colon (large intestine) that can sometimes lead to colon cancer and therefore are generally removed by your physician as soon as they are noticed. The presence of polyps does not indicate colon cancer, yet removing them does not guarantee you will never have it. It is still unknown what causes a polyp to be harmless versus a polyp that will become cancerous, thus removal is the current protocol for treatment. Small polyps generally do not cause symptoms and can only be detected through screenings by your physician. Large polyps are more likely to lead to colon cancer and often exhibit a number of symptoms.

Tomographic Colonography

These symptoms include rectal bleeding, changing in bowel habits, frequent diarrhea, constipation or change in the look of your stool. Screenings for polyps are recommended to happen every 10 years for those over 50 and more often if you are considered high risk (see below). Your physician can discuss the timeline he feels would work best for your specific risks and needs. There are three different screening methods used to look for colon polyps. The first is stool sample, which looks for colon cancer as well as blood or immunochemicals in the stool, which could indicate damage to the colon. A second type of test is known as a computer tomographic colonography (CTC). This test uses both a computer and x-ray images to help doctors locate polyps in your colon.

The most common type of testing for polyps is a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy happens when a doctor places a small camera via a small flexible tube into your colon. A colonoscopy allows doctors to remove polyps as soon as they view them. For this reason colonoscopy is preferred by many doctors so they can both locate and remove polyps at the same time. If a physician were to find polyps using a stool sample or CTC then they would have to follow up with a colonoscopy. The best method for your body can be determined through a conversation with your physician.

Computer Tomographic Colonography

The top risk factors for polyps include age, as polyps are more likely to develop after the age of 50, those who have a family history of colon cancer and those with a genetic tendency to form lots of polyps. Additionally, African Americans tend to have higher rates of colon cancer. The more polyps you have the more likely you will be to develop colon cancer. However, this does not mean that just because you have polyps that you are going to get colon cancer. The removal of polyps, especially when they are small, directly combats cancer. As with any medical procedure your doctor can best address your concerns and needs, so that you can maintain optimal colon health.

Colonoscopy.com is a portal through which individuals seeking a traditional or virtual colonoscopy can directly interact with gastroenterologists and find specialists located near them.

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