What are colon polyps?
Most colon polyps are not cancer. But some growths can turn into colon cancer. If a colon polyp is the kind that can turn into cancer, it usually takes many years for that to happen.
People over 50 are more likely than younger people to get colon cancer. Experts recommend routine colon cancer testing for everyone age 50 and older who has a normal risk for colon cancer. People with a higher risk, such as African Americans and people with a strong family history of colon cancer, may need to be tested sooner. Talk to your doctor about when you should be tested. Finding and removing colon polyps can prevent colon cancer.
What are the symptoms?
You can have colon polyps and not know it because they usually don't cause symptoms. They are usually found during routine screening tests for colon cancer. A screening test looks for signs of a disease when there are no symptoms.
If polyps get large, they can cause symptoms. You may have bleeding from your rectum or a change in your bowel habits. A change in bowel habits includes diarrhea, constipation, going to the bathroom more often or less often than usual, or a change in the way your stool looks.
How are colon polyps diagnosed?
Most polyps are found during tests for colon cancer. Experts recommend routine colon cancer testing for everyone age 50 and older who has a normal risk for colon cancer. People with a higher risk, such as African Americans and people with a strong family history of colon cancer, may need to be tested sooner. The tests for colon cancer are:
Doctors often recommend colonoscopy because it lets them look at the whole colon and remove any polyps they find. If polyps are found during another type of test, you may still need colonoscopy so the doctor can remove the polyps.
What increases my risk of getting colon polyps?
You are more likely to have colon polyps if:
How are they treated?
Doctors usually remove colon polyps because some of them can turn into colon cancer. Most polyps are removed during a colonoscopy. You may need to have surgery if you have a large polyp.
Once you have had polyps, you have a higher chance of developing new polyps. If you have had polyps removed, it is important to have follow-up testing to look for more polyps. Talk to your doctor about how often you need to be tested.
Frequently Asked Questions
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Find out what women really need.