Colon Polyps: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


You certainly have many questions in mind when you found out that you have colon polyps. Will it progress to cancer? What are the treatments available?

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Colon polyps are small growths on the walls of the colon which resemble the shape of a mushroom’s head. Although most of these polyps are benign, some have the chance of progressing into cancer. It’s worth noting that polyps are common especially in adults over 50 years old and can be safely removed.

But how do these small growths develop? What are the symptoms? This article will answer some of the important questions you want to know about colon polyps.

What are the causes of Colon Polyps?

Until now, researchers are not able to unveil the real cause of colon polyps. However, its growth is closely associated with abnormalities in cell growth. Healthy cells grow and then divide in a systematic way which aids in proper body functioning to remain healthy. When the cell production process is altered or more cells are produced compared to what the body actually needs, the extra cells mass up. When this happens in the large intestine, the extra cells that mass up along the lining of the large intestine or colon are called polyps. Over time, these polyps can develop into colon cancer.

What are the early signs?

Most people with this condition exhibit no symptoms and only know about it after being examined by a doctor. But some do manifest symptoms like rectal bleeding, diarrhea or constipation for over a week and blood-tinged stool. If you experience abdominal pain, bloody stool or notice a change in your bowel movements over a week, then you should never delay consultation with your physician.

Who are at Risk?

Anyone can develop colon polyps. But some people are more susceptible to develop this condition than others. If you are 50 years old or older, you are at risk. Furthermore, if you’ve had polyps before, there is still a possibility of developing them once again. If a family member or relative have polyps or colon cancer, you are at risk of having them as well. Moreover, if you’ve had ovarian or uterine cancer before reaching 50, you may also develop polyps in your colon. In addition, if your diet is high in fat and you don’t exercise, you drink alcohol, smoke and are overweight; you will most likely develop polyps.

How is it Diagnosed?

The doctor may conduct different tests to diagnose colon polyps. These include Sigmoidoscopy, Colonoscopy, Barium Enema, CT Scan and Stool Test. Let us consider each one of them.

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Sigmoidoscopy

This diagnostic test involves placing a sigmoidoscope, a lighted flexible and thin tube right into your rectum. The doctor will have a visual illustration of the last third of your colon.

Colonoscopy

You will be sedated when this test is performed. The procedure is similar to Sigmoidoscopy but this test enables the doctor to have a full visual representation of your largest intestine, not just part of it. A long and flexible tube with camera will be inserted into your rectum. The good thing about this test is that the instrument has a tool in it to remove polyps and this procedure is undertaken when removing the polyps.

Barium Enema

In this diagnostic test, the doctor will put barium liquid into your anus to easily see the polyps under X-ray examination since the barium liquid will make your colon look white while polyps look dark under X-rays.

• CT Scan

This test is also referred to as virtual colonoscopy where a flexible, thin tube will be placed into your anus. The machine will create pictures of your large intestine which is seen on a computer screen.

Stool Test

You will be required to bring a sample of your stool placed in a special cup. After which, your stool sample will be tested in the laboratory to see any signs of cancer like blood or changes in the DNA.

What are the treatments available for Colon Polyps?

Oftentimes, polyps in the colon are treated by removing them either through colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy by simultaneously snaring and cauterizing the polyp with a loop wire to stop bleeding. If the polyp is located beyond the area reachable by the snaring loop or is quite large, surgical removal is required via laparoscopic methods. The doctor will make small cuts into your abdominal lining using surgical tools with camera that shows your colon on the video monitor.

How are Colon Polyps prevented?

There’s no better and surer way to prevent them than living a healthy lifestyle. This effectively lowers your risk of developing colon polyps. This involves eating plenty of fruits and veggies, maintaining a low-fat diet, having regular exercise, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol intake as well as losing weight if you’re obese. Also, increasing your calcium also helps in reducing your chances of developing colon polyps.

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