What Exactly Are Colon Polyps?

What Exactly Are Colon Polyps?

Colon polyps are small benign growths protruding into the lumen, or empty space, inside the large intestine. Typically asymptomatic, some polyps are precancerous. At GI Med Health in Greenbelt, MD, your gastroenterologists use a colonoscopy to detect and remove polyps. Dr. Rattan and Dr. Mostaghim see this test as an excellent way to evaluate polyps and ensure your GI health.

The details on colon polyps

Ranging in size from five to 30 millimeters in diameter, colon polyps resemble little mushrooms or maybe flat in appearance. Healthline reports that the vast majority are harmless, with no cancer cells or symptoms of any kind.

Called hyperplastic polyps, these growths are common in people ages 50 and up. In fact, MedicalNewsToday says 30 percent of Americans in this age group have hyperplastic polyps.

Other individuals, however, may have precancerous adenomas. Most adenomas do not progress into cancer; however, some do. That's why it's important to detect and remove them.

Polyps can cause problems

Most polyps are asymptomatic. However, those which do show symptoms present with:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Frank bleeding or streaks of blood on stool
  • Anemia

Because the majority of colon polyps are silent but have the potential for cancer, your gastroenterologists at GI Med Health in Greenbelt recommend screening colonoscopy for everyone age 50 and older.

During this half-hour procedure, Dr. Mostaghim or Dr. Rattan inserts a thin, lighted scope into the rectum and through the entire length of the colon. He takes still and video images to detect abnormalities, including polyps.

Besides imaging polyps, your GI doctor uses the scope to snare or burn these growths and to take tissue samples for biopsy. Tissue biopsy is the surest way to detect colon cancer, the third biggest cancer killer of American adults (US News and World Report).

Risk factors and how to avoid them

For many people, genetics, ethnicity (African-Americans are more at risk), and age play a large role in polyp development. Sadly, you cannot manipulate these factors. However, you can change other elements which include:

  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Low-fiber diet
  • Consuming a lot of red meat and/or alcohol

In short, you'll have a healthier colon if you maintain a good weight, exercise, stop all tobacco, limit alcohol and red meat, and up your fiber intake.

So, now you know...

It's important to detect colon polyps. For a consultation on your GI health and colonoscopy services, please contact Dr. Sushil Rattan and Dr. Radman Mostaghim at GI Med Health in Greenbelt, MD. We'll take good care of you. Phone (301) 982-7900.

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