Colon polyps are extra fleshy growth that develops on the lining of the large intestine (colon) protruding into the intestinal canal. Colon polyps are more common in older individuals. Colon polyps are non-cancerous, but some polyps become cancerous.
Certain people may have a greater chance of getting polyps which are;
- About 50 years of age or older
- Family history of polyps
- Previous history of polyps
- Family history of colon cancer
- History of uterine or ovarian cancer
The three most common types of colon polyps are hyperplastic polyps, adenomas, and polyposis syndromes. Hyperplastic polyps refer to abnormal increase in the number of cells in the tissue. Adenomas are most dangerous of developing into colon cancer. They may be sessile or flat and may be removed during colonoscopy or require surgery.
Colon polyps are usually not associated with symptoms. When they occur symptoms include bleeding from the anus, blood stools, abdominal pain, and mucous discharge, changes in bowel movements, and constipation or diarrhoea.
Your physician will perform the following tests to diagnose colon polyps:
- Colonoscopy: Colonoscopy is a procedure in which a flexible lighted tube is passed through the anus into the rectum and the colon. The colonoscope helps to view the pictures of inside of the rectum and colon.
- Sigmoidoscopy: This procedure uses a shorter tube called a sigmoidoscope to transmit images of the rectum and the sigmoid colon (the lower portion of the colon).
- Barium enema X-ray: In this procedure, X-ray is taken after injecting a contrast material called barium into the colon.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan- In this procedure a thin, flexible tube is inserted into the rectum. Using x-rays, images of the large intestine are created.
- Stool test- Stool sample is tested in the laboratory for signs of cancer.
In most cases, polyps can be removed during colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy examination and then tested for cancer. During colonoscopy, polyps can be removed by snaring them with a wire loop passed through the instrument and burning the tissue with electric cautery.
Surgery is required in some polyps that cannot be removed with the instruments because of their size or location. Polypectomy is surgical excision or removal of a polyp.
You can reduce the risk of developing colon polyp by having high fibre and low fat diet, by avoiding alcohol and smoking, and by exercising and maintaining weight.