- Colon Polyps
- Are Colon Polyps Cancerous?
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. 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:
- Computerized tomography (CT) colonography (also known as virtual colonoscopy)
- Stool test
- Capsule colonoscopy
- Lower gastrointestinal series
A tissue sample (biopsy) may be taken of the colorectal polyp to determine if it is cancerous.
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.
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.
- Exercise regularly
- Don’t smoke
- Avoid alcohol consumption
- Lose weight if you are overweight
- Take low-dose aspirin daily
- Talk to your doctor before doing this as aspirin may cause gastrointestinal bleeding
- Children should not be given aspirin because it can cause Reye’s syndrome, a rare but serious illness