Polyps are growths that form on the lining of the bowel. They vary in size and number. Though you can develop polyps in any part of your digestive tract, they most often appear in the colon.
Polyps are noncancerous (benign), but some of these growths may contain cancer cells or become cancerous over time. Polyps larger than 1 cm are more likely to turn cancerous than smaller polyps. Colon polyps are a concern because they put you at risk of developing colon cancer.
What causes polyps?
Researchers are still investigating what causes polyps to develop. However, they theorize that genetics combined with a high-fat, low-fiber diet may increase your risk of having polyps.
Your risk of polyps increases as you get older. It’s estimated that about 30% of people 45 years of age and older have polyps. Some people also have genetic conditions that cause polyps, such as Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis, or Lynch syndrome.
What are the symptoms of polyps?
You’re unlikely to have any symptoms when you have polyps, especially during the early stages of their growth. However, polyps may cause symptoms as they grow or turn cancerous.
Concerning polyp symptoms include:
- Rectal bleeding
- Weight loss
- Change in bowel habits
- Abdominal pain
What are the tests and treatments for polyps?
NVG performs endoscopy procedures to find and remove polyps.
During a colon cancer screening, the team performs a colonoscopy to evaluate the lining of your entire large intestine. If they find polyps during this screening, they perform a polypectomy to remove the growths and then send the tissue to the pathology lab for testing. They may also recommend more frequent screenings to monitor for polyps and colon cancer.
The team may also perform an upper endoscopy if they have concerns about stomach polyps. Like colonoscopy, they can perform a polypectomy to remove these growths.