Colon Polyps

A colon polyp is a cluster of cells that form on the lining of the colon or rectum. Some colon polyps are not cancerous and the result of abnormal cell growth, but some colon polyps may either be cancerous or become cancerous. A regular colon screening can remove any existing polyps.

Risk Factors for Developing Colon Polyps

Certain factors may put a person at a higher risk for developing polyps of the colon. Some of these factors include the following:

  • Age 50 or older
  • Uterine or ovarian cancer before the age of 50
  • A family history of polyps or colon cancer
  • Smoking
  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Obesity or being overweight

Regular colon screenings are recommended for people over the age of 50 without a family history of colon cancer.

Types of Colon Polyps

The three main types of colon polyps include the following:

  • Adenomatous
  • Hyperplastic
  • Inflammatory

Symptoms of Colon Polyps

Small polyps do not usually cause symptoms, but larger ones may cause some of the following symptoms:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Bloody stools
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Narrow stools
  • Pain

Polyps can form anywhere within the large intestine and are can vary in size and appearance depending on the type.

Diagnosis of Colon Polyps

A series of diagnostic tests will be performed which may include the following:

  • Digital rectal exam
  • Barium enema
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • CT colonography
  • Fecal blood test
  • DNA testing of stool

Treatment of Colon Polyps

If a colon polyp is discovered, it will likely be removed, during the colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, in order to prevent the chance of it transforming into cancer. Other polyps may be burned with an electrical current or surgically removed using laparoscopic techniques.

Preventing Colon Polyps

The risk of developing a colon polyp can be reduced by having regular screenings and maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. Some of the prevention methods include the following:

  • Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables
  • Eliminating smoking
  • Establishing a regular exercise routine
  • Losing weight
  • Avoiding alcohol

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