Colon Polyps: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment Options

May 7th 2016

Colon polyps do not typically cause symptoms or discomfort, but long-term bleeding resulting from the polyps attached to the lining of the colon can cause significant health problems. Take precautionary measures by consulting with your physician on a regular basis, reporting any bowel changes or problems, and opting for screening tests that can detect problems with the colon.

Risk Factors

You have a higher risk of forming colon polyps if you are a smoker, if you are overweight or if you are over 50 years of age. If you have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps, you are also more prone to form polyps on the lining of the colon or the rectum.

Signs and Symptoms

You are not likely to experience symptoms when colon polyps are present. Most polyps are discovered during a routine screening test, such as a colonoscopy. You may experience symptoms such as rectal bleeding, changes in stool color or changes in bowel habits that produce diarrhea or constipation. Colon polyps can also cause vomiting, nausea or pain if the polyps are obstructing your bowels. If you have colon polyps, you may also develop iron deficiency anemia; the bleeding from the polyps over time robs your body of iron that is necessary to allow red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.

Treatment

Physicians typically remove colon polyps after they are detected during a bowel examination or screening test. Your surgeon can remove the polyps with a wire loop designed to snare the polyp or use biopsy forceps. The process may involve injecting liquid under the polyp to loosen it from the wall of the colon. Colon polyps that cannot be reached safely during screenings or that have grown too large are often removed through minimally invasive surgery. Patients with extreme cases of colon polyps, especially those with rare inherited syndromes, may have to undergo a total proctocolectomy, which involves removing the rectum and the colon.

Prevention

It may not be absolutely possible to prevent colon polyps from forming, but you can reduce risk factors by using alcohol only in moderation, maintaining a healthy body weight and quitting smoking. It is crucial to also opt for routine screening tests of your colon to detect polyps in the early stages.

Conclusion

Colon polyps are small clumps of cells that develop and form on the lining of the colon. The discovery of colon polyps is not always a cause of concern. Most colon polyps are relatively harmless, but it is important to undergo routine screening to reduce the risk of polyps developing into colon cancer. Learn about the signs, symptoms and treatment options to safeguard your health.

Sources

MayoClinic.org "Colon polyps" http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colon-polyps/basics/definition/con-20031957
WebMD.com "Colon polyps - topic overview" http://www.webmd.com/colorectal-cancer/tc/colon-polyps-topic-overview
NYTimes.com "Colorectal polyps" http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/colorectal-polyps/overview.html

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