How Long Does It Take for Precancerous Polyps to Turn into Cancer?

Reviewed on 3/3/2021

What Are Colorectal Polyps?

Colorectal polyps are irregular tissue growths that protrude from mucous membranes on the lining of the large intestine (colon) or rectum. The types of polyps that may become cancerous include adenomatous polyps (adenomas), hyperplastic polyps, and sessile-serrated and traditional-serrated polyps.
Colorectal polyps are irregular tissue growths that protrude from mucous membranes on the lining of the large intestine (colon) or rectum. The types of polyps that may become cancerous include adenomatous polyps (adenomas), hyperplastic polyps, and sessile-serrated and traditional-serrated polyps.

Colorectal polyps are irregular tissue growths that protrude from mucous membranes on the lining of the large intestine (colon) or rectum. They may be flat or may appear to be attached by a stalk (pedunculated). Colon polyps are the most common type of polyp.

There are a few different types of polyps, some of which have the potential to become cancerous. 

Types of polyps that may become cancerous include:  

  • Adenomatous polyps (adenomas)
  • Hyperplastic polyps
  • Sessile-serrated and traditional-serrated polyps

What Are Symptoms of Colorectal Polyps?

Colorectal polyps often have no symptoms. When symptoms occur, they may include:

What Causes Colorectal Polyps?

Causes and risk factors for developing colorectal polyps include: 

How Are Colorectal Polyps Diagnosed?

In addition to a physical examination, colorectal polyps are often diagnosed during screening to check for colon or rectal cancer

Tests for colorectal polyps include: 

A tissue sample (biopsy) may be taken of the colorectal polyp to determine if it is cancerous. 

SLIDESHOW

Colon Cancer: Symptoms, Signs, Screening, Stages See Slideshow

What Is the Treatment for Colorectal Polyps?

Treatment for colorectal polyps involves removing them. This is usually done when they are found during a colonoscopy in order to eliminate the chance of them becoming cancerous. 

Surgical removal of colon polyps is called a polypectomy, which is performed through a colonoscope. 

How Long Does It Take for Precancerous Polyps to Turn into Cancer?

About 2/3 of colon polyps are adenomas, which are polyps that may become cancerous.

It is believed to take about 10 years for an adenoma (precancerous polyp) to turn into cancer.

Because it takes such a long time for a polyp to become cancerous, colorectal cancer can often be prevented if precancerous polyps (such as adenomas) are detected and removed before they become cancerous (malignant). 

How Do You Prevent Colorectal Polyps?

It’s not always possible to prevent colorectal polyps, but healthy lifestyle changes may help reduce the risk of developing some types of polys. 

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Reviewed on 3/3/2021
References
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/colon-polyps-beyond-the-basics?search=colon%20polyps&source=search_result&selectedTitle=7~142&usage_type=default&display_rank=5

https://fightcolorectalcancer.org/

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/colon-polyps