Areas of Expertise
About Colon Polyps
Colon polyps arise from a genetic abnormality in the lining of the large intestine. There are many types of polyps, ranging from benign to pre-malignant. Some polyps may turn into eventual cancer if not removed, underscoring the importance of appropriate evaluation by a specialized physician.
Polyps are often asymptomatic. They may cause non-specific symptoms such as bleeding, mucous discharge from the anus, or abdominal pain. Most polyps are diagnosed on colonoscopy done for other reasons. People with family members who have been diagnosed with polyps should seek the advice of their health care professional to see if a colonscopy may be indicated. Though rare, there are a number of genetic syndromes that put individuals at risk for developing many hundreds to thousands of polyps. These warrant further investigation and may be suspected on the basis of a family history of colon cancer or polyps at a young age (less than 50) or rectal bleeding. The polyps are often removed and examined under a microscope to determine the type of polyp.
Treatment for Colon Polyps
Colon polyps are most often treated by endoscopic removal using a fiberoptic camera and specialized instruments passed through the scope. Rarely, if the polyp cannot be removed or harbors an area of cancer, surgery may be required to take out a segment of colon. Additionally, surgery may be required in the setting of a genetic syndrome if polyps are too numerous to remove completely to prevent the risk of progression to cancer. Consultation with a colorectal surgeon is required to determine of the polyp requires these more invasive methods. Today, many of these surgeries to remove the colon can be performed using laparoscopic techniques. This involves use of several small incisions made through the abdomen and a television camera to perform the surgery using long instruments placed through specialized “ports.”
To learn more about colon polyps, visit the American Society of Colon and Rectal surgeons website at:
Kyle Cologne, M.D.
Video presentation: Polyps
American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons