A colon polyp is a growth on the surface of the colon, also called the large intestine. Sometimes, a person can have more than one colon polyp. Colon polyps can be raised or flat.The large intestine is the long, hollow tube at the end of your digestive tract. The large intestine absorbs water from stool and changes it from a liquid to a solid. Stool is the waste that passes through the rectum and anus as a bowel movement.Some colon polyps are benign, meaning they are not cancer. But some types of polyps may already be cancer or can become cancer. Flat polyps can be smaller and harder to see and are more likely to be cancer than raised polyps. Polyps can usually be removed during a colonoscopy - the test used to check for colon polyps.
Anyone can get colon polyps, but certain people are at higher risk than others. You may have a greater chance of getting polyps if:
- you are 50 years of age or older
- You’ve had polyps before
- someone in your family has had polyps
- someone in your family had cancer of the large intestine, also called colon cancer
- you’ve experienced uterine or ovarian cancer before age 50
You may also be more likely to get colon polyps if you:
- eat alot of fatty foods
- drink alcohol
- don’t exercise
- weigh too much
Most people with colon polyps do not have symptoms. Often, people don’t know they have one until the doctor finds it during a regular checkup or while testing for something else. Some people do have symptoms, such as:
- bleeding from the anus
- constipation or diarrhea that lasts more than a week
- blood in the stool
If you have any of these symptoms, contact your physician immediately to find out what the symptom might mean.
Preventative screening is the most effective diagnostic for colon polyps. Talk to one of our board certified physicians about when you should begin screening for colon polyps. Current guidelines generally recommend colon screening begin at age 45. Your physician may recommend more frequent or earlier screening if you have other risk factors, such as family history of the disease.
High Definition Colonoscopy can see the entire colon, and this is the best screening test for colon polyps, including the flat polyps that could possibly be missed in a standard colonoscopy. This screening can be performed at our Premier Endoscopy Center located on the second floor of our office building.
With proper screening, most colon polyps can be detected and removed during the screening, before more serious symptoms develop. Contact one of our board certified physicians for a screening if you are age 45 or older and have not yet had a colonoscopy.