Colon and Rectum Polyps
Polyps are abnormal growths at the inner lining of any region of the colon or rectum. Polyps sometimes develop stalks for attachment to the colon or rectum. They are commonly called colorectal polyps.
Types of Polyps
Polyps may be cancerous or non-cancerous. Usually, the polyps grow and remain attached to the colon (benign tumor). Some polyps may begin to spread and invade other tissues in the body (malignant tumor).
What Causes Colorectal Polyps?
The exact cause of the development of polyps in the colon or rectum is unknown. Possible causes include:
- Previous ovarian or uterine cancer
- A family history of colon cancer
- A family history of polyps
- Suffering from Crohn’s disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Consumption of high-fat foods
- Smoking and consuming alcohol
- A sedentary lifestyle
Symptoms of Colorectal Polyps
Some of the common symptoms of colorectal polyps include:
- You may experience pain in your abdomen.
- You may suffer from diarrhea or constipation that lasts longer than usual.
- Some patients experience rectal bleeding.
- Blood may appear in your stools. The color of the stools may be dark.
- Some patients may experience excess production of mucus.
- Due to the continuous loss of blood, you can become anemic.
Diagnosis of Colorectal Polyps
Your doctor may order one or more of the following tests to diagnose colorectal polyps.
Colonoscopy and Sigmoidoscopy
These procedures use a camera attached to a thin tube called an endoscope. The tube is flexible which makes it comfortable to be threaded through the anus.
Colonoscopy can be used to view the colon and rectum whereas sigmoidoscopy views only the lower colon and rectum.
Computer Tomography (CT) technique is used to obtain 3D images of the colon and rectum. A polyp or ulcer or a mass is visible in the images obtained.
Your lab technician injects Barium (liquid) in your colon and uses a special x-ray to obtain images. Polyps, if present, appear dark. The colon appears white.
Your stool sample is tested for the presence of blood cells.
Treatment of Colorectal Polyps
Your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce pain and other symptoms. The best way to get rid of polyps is removing them.
Your doctor may remove the polyps using sterile forceps during colonoscopy. If polyps are large, then your doctor suggests laparoscopic surgery to remove them.
Prognosis after Treatment
There are rare chances that the polyps may come back but follow-up with your doctor is necessary every 3 to 5 years. Your doctor may prescribe certain medications to prevent them from reappearing.
What Happens if Colorectal Polyps are Left Untreated?
The polyps may sometimes be asymptomatic but most often you will experience one or more symptoms. The polyps can develop into a cancerous mass of tissue that spreads to other regions of the body. Hence, do not ignore any symptoms and get them removed at the earliest.
Prevention of Colorectal Polyps
You can prevent colorectal polyps by following these simple measures:
- Limit intake of food containing high fats
- Quit smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc
- Consume foods rich in Vitamin D and Calcium
- Lose weight if you are obese
- Control your diabetes effectively