Colon polyps are common growths that appear on the interior lining of the colon. Though they are very common, they are nothing to overlook when it comes to treatment. As a person gets older, the risk of developing polyps increases, though they can impact anyone at any age. About half of all people who are over the age of 60 will have at least one polyp. In many cases, these are nothing to worry about, but you should still see your colon doctor in Brooklyn to ensure these polyps are not a risk factor for you.
The problem with colon polyps is that, in some cases, they can grow large and they can become cancerous. Since colon cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States, we recognize the need to pay careful attention to polyps. Screening for them and treatment of them is necessary in all people. It’s important that colon polyps are caught before they become cancerous. In this case, they tend to be easy to remove and harmless.
When Are Colon Polyps Cancerous?
Adenomatous polyps, or adenomas, are cancerous polyps. About 75 percent of all colon polyps can fit into this category. There are various subtypes of these polyps as well. They differ in the way that the cells within the polyp are assembled when they are looked at under a microscope. Some include tubular, villous, and tubulovillous adenomas. Villous adenomas are the highest risk because they are more likely to become cancerous. Tubular adenomas are the least likely.
When Should You Be Screened for Colon Polyps?
The American Cancer Society has established some guidelines for screening for colon polyps. Again, this is very important since these polyps are very common and can become cancerous especially if untreated for a long time. The goal is to screen individuals to minimize the risk of colon cancer occurring by detecting and removing the polyps as soon as possible.
Once you reach the age of 40, you may need to begin screenings for colon cancer. At this age, you will have a stool specimen tested for occult blood. This is blood that is unable to be seen by the naked eye. This should be done annually. This type of screening is necessary because many times polyps, as they get larger, will bleed into the intestine. The blood then mixes into the stool. This can be an early warning sign of large, and potentially cancerous polyps.
Once you reach the age of 50, you will likely have a flexible sigmoidoscopy. This is done every three to five years. This is a two and one-half foot tube that is a half an inch in diameter. It has a light at the very end of it. It is inserted through the anus to look at the interior of the colon. It can see about one-third of the colon’s total length. If, during this screening, adenomatous polyps are found, your doctor will recommend a full colonoscopy. This procedure is similar, though it uses a longer tube, generally as long as five feet, that looks at the entire interior of the colon. During this procedure, if your doctor finds any existing polyps, he or she can remove them. They are then tested under a microscope to determine if there are any cancerous cells present.
If you are at an average risk of having colon cancer, your doctor may recommend a preventative, screening colonoscopy rather than the flexible sigmoidoscopy. For those who are over the age of 50, and every 7 to 10 years thereafter, you should have a full colonoscopy whether or not any polyps have been found.
Why Should You Have a Colonoscopy?
The reasoning behind colonoscopies is very simple. First, the colonoscopy is likely to provide a good image of the colon – and the entire length of it. As a result, it provides a much clearer image of what’s happening within your colon. Since about 50 percent of colon polyps and colon cancers are located in the upper portion of the colon, in the cecum, ascending colon, and transverse colon, the flexible sigmoidscope is unable to find them. These would be missed by the flexible sigmoidoscopy, making them less beneficial to you.
In addition to this, the National Polyp Study, a large, scientific study, found that the use of a colonoscopy to remove all of the colon polyps present can reduce the number of deaths from colon cancer. As a result, you should call your Brooklyn colonoscopy doctor to have this procedure done as frequently as needed.