Colon Polyps

A colon polyp is extra tissue that grows inside the large intestine, also called the colon.

The most common found polyps are hyperplastic or adenomatous. They are both benign, meaning not cancerous. The adenoma however could develop into cancer. Removing polyps,  known as a polypectomy, can prevent colon cancer. A family history of polyps or colon cancer or a personal history of adenomas increases the risk of a person developing polyps and colon cancer. For these patients screening is recommended beginning at age forty. Most polyps and cancers do not cause symptoms in the early stages. An indication of a more serious problem might be rectal bleeding, blood in a bowel movement, constipation or diarrhea that persists.

A colonoscopy  is the most reliable method of viewing the entire colon. It is effective in detecting most small polyps and almost all large polyps.    Most polyps visible during a colonoscopy are removed and sent to a pathologist. Because the lining of the bowel is not sensitive, the removal of a polyp does not cause discomfort. Uncommon complications may include bleeding from the site or perforation of the colon. The biopsy of the tissue is the only way to differentiate the type of polyp. The pathology report on the type of polyp can take up to a week. The number of polyps removed, the size of the polyp, the tissue type, personal polyp history and family history determine how often a colonoscopy is repeated.

When a polyp is found during a screening colonoscopy and either biopsied or removed the procedure may now be considered a “surgical colonoscopy” which may increase a patient’s financial responsibility.  It is important to contact your insurance company prior to your procedure using our “Colonoscopy Insurance Information”  sheet.

There is no sure way to prevent polyps, though there are lifestyle suggestions on lowering the risk of developing polyps.

  • Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables daily
  • Reduce saturated fats and meats
  • Daily folic acid supplements
  • 1000-1500mg of calcium daily
  • Daily aspirin if approved by one’s Primary Care Physician
  • No smoking
  • Avoid alcohol in excess
  • Daily exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight