Colon polyps are growths on the lining of your colon and rectum. Colorectal cancer is one the most common causes of death from cancer and most often begins as polyps. Over time, some polyps can become cancerous. Removing polyps can help prevent colorectal cancer.
Anyone can develop colon polyps and colon cancer. However your risk factors can increase if:
- Someone in your family has had polyps or cancer of the colon or rectum
- You have inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease
- You are overweight
- Smoke cigarettes
A colon and rectal cancer screening is recommended at age 50 if you do not have health problems or other risk factors that make you more susceptible to colorectal cancer. If you are at higher risk for colorectal cancer, your doctor may recommend screening at a younger age, and recommend being tested more often.
Treatments for Colon Polyps
Your doctor will be able to see colon polyps during a colonoscopy and other colorectal screenings. The polyp is often removed to determine if it’s cancerous or not. Your treatment will depend on the size of the polyp. Often, if the polyp is larger than one cm, it’s more likely to encompass cancer cells. There are different types of polyps: hyperplastic, adenomatous and sessile.
Regular screenings are the best option to prevent polyps from becoming cancerous. Surgery is necessary in rare cases where the polyp is too large to be removed during a colonoscopy. Your Spectrum Health colorectal team works closely with you to develop the right treatment plan.
A colonoscopy is nothing to shy away from. The traditional colonoscopy provides accurate testing for colon cancer in its early stages. We are also able to remove any polyps at the same time, which is an important part of cancer prevention.
Also called "virtual colonoscopy," this is a non-invasive form of the traditional colonoscopy. Instead of using an internal scope, images of the colon are taken using a special CT scan. It does not require pain medication or anesthesia. This procedure is not covered by all health insurance providers. Talk with yours to see if the CT colonography is covered by your plan. If not, it may be worth investigating costs for self-pay. We want you to avoid colon cancer, so let's talk.
Your care team may recommend surgery for colon polyps if it's large in size and cannot be removed during a colonoscopy procedure.