What is a colon polyp?
A colon polyp is a growth on the inner lining of the colon.
It can be raised, flat or depressed.
It can be benign, pre-cancerous or cancerous.
What causes colon polyp?
Colon polyps are caused by abnormal changes in the cells of the colon. These changes are due to genetic and environmental factors.
A family history of colon polyp or colon cancer increases your chances of having a polyp.
Obesity, alcohol, tobacco, and a diet with high fat, red meat and processed meat are all associated with the risk of having a polyp.
How long does it take a colon polyp to grow into a cancer?
This depends on your genes, medical problems, as well as the type and size of the polyp.
On average, it takes about 10 years for a small pre-cancerous polyp to become cancer.
How can I tell if I have a colon polyp?
Colon polyps rarely cause symptoms which is why screening is important. Rarely, polyp may cause bleeding or change in bowel habits.
Who should be checked for colon polyps?
Average risk individuals should get a screening colonoscopy starting at age 50. Patients with family history of colon polyps or colon cancer, polyposis syndrome, Lynch syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and African Americans are advised to start screening earlier.
What is the best way to check for colon polyps?
The best test to check for colon polyps is the colonoscopy.
Certain CT scan and stool tests can also detect colon polyps. Colonoscopy offers the best way to detect and remove colon polyps at the same time.
What is the treatment for colon polyps?
The best treatment for colon polyps is polypectomy during colonoscopy. Polypectomy is the removal of polyps using instruments during colonoscopy. Rarely, surgery is needed to remove a polyp because of its size or location.
What follow up do I need if I am diagnosed with colon polyps?
Follow up depends on your medical history, number of polyps and the type and size of colon polyps. It also depends on whether the polyps were completely removed or not. Pre-cancerous (adenomatous) colon polyps require closer follow up than benign or hyperplastic ones.
Will colon polyps recur after they have been removed?
Colon polyps will not recur after complete removal. Individuals with colon polyps are more likely to develop new polyps especially people with family history and certain medical conditions. Therefore, surveillance colonoscopy is recommended.
What can I do to prevent colon polyps?
The best way to prevent colon polyps from turning to colon cancer is to get a colonoscopy at the appropriate time. A healthy lifestyle with high fiber diet, exercise, avoidance of tobacco smoking, less red meat will go a long way in preventing colon polyps.