A colon polyp is a growth on the lining of the large intestine. There are two common types of polyps, adenomas and hyperplastic. Most polyps are harmless, but some can contain cancerous tissue. Adenomas usually carry a higher risk of becoming cancerous.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to tell which polyps are cancerous and which are not, so your doctor will perform a polypectomy, the removal of a polyp, on any found during a colonoscopy or other procedure.
During colonoscopy, smaller polyps are identified and removed. Large polyps are typically removed with a snare (wire loop) that may contain an electric current.
Polyp removal is safe, but like every medical procedure there are risks. In some cases the procedure can cause rectal bleeding or perforation.
Some polyps may require surgical removal because of their size or location.
It’s necessary to remove colon polyps because some can become cancerous. Even though most polyps do not contain cancerous tissue, it’s very difficult for doctors to tell which do and which don’t. Therefore, your doctor will typically remove all polyps at the time of the colonoscopy.
Most colon polyps do not show any symptoms, but on occasion they can cause:
You should be screened for colon polyps if you experience any of the symptoms or if you fall into one or more of the following risk factors:
Your doctor may or may not advise you to undergo special preparation. If so, they will guide you through a cleansing routine.
Your cleansing routine may consist of:
It’s important to follow your cleansing routine carefully, as any material remaining in the colon or rectum can affect the accuracy of the procedure.
Inform your doctor of:
Your doctor will identify a polyp using the colonoscope. Your doctor will then determine the best course in removing the polyp.
They can be removed by:
It’s unlikely that you’ll feel much pain or discomfort during the polypectomy as there are few pain sensing nerves in the large intestine.
Your doctor will have the removed polyps examined for cancerous tissue. You’ll be walked through the results after they come back. You’ll be able to resume your normal lifestyle within a day.
Your doctor is also likely to recommend a repeat colonoscopy at some point in the future. The timing of your repeat colonoscopy depends on the size and quantity of the polyps found in your intestine.
Your doctor will generally recommend a repeat colonoscopy in 3-5 years for smaller polyps and may recommend a repeat colonoscopy within a few months for larger polyps.