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Colon Polyps

Colon or colonic polyps are raised or flat growths in the large intestine. These growths develop over time due to aging, eating fatty foods, or being overweight. Colon polyps are typically discovered during a colonoscopy and can be benign or cancerous. Common symptoms include bleeding in the stool, bleeding in the anus, or constipation/diarrhea that lasts for over a week. If you are over 50 or have a family member that has had colon cancer before, you should contact Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano about colon polyp or colon cancer screening procedures.

Most people with colon polyps do not have symptoms.

If you want to learn more about colon polyps in general, continue reading below.

  • What are colon polyps?
  • Are colon polyps cancerous?
  • Who gets colon polyps?
  • What are the symptoms of colon polyps?
  • How do Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano test for colon polyps?
  • Who should get tested for colon polyps?
  • How are colon polyps treated?
  • How can I prevent colon polyps?
  • Points to Remember

What are colon polyps?

A colon polyp is a growth on the surface of the colon, also called the large intestine. Sometimes, you can have more than one colon polyp. Colon polyps can be raised or flat.

The large intestine is the long, hollow tube at the end of your digestive tract. The large intestine absorbs water from stool and changes it from a liquid to a solid. Stool is the waste that passes through the rectum and anus as a bowel movement.

Are colon polyps cancerous?

Some colon polyps are benign, which means they are not cancer. But some types of polyps may already be cancer or can become cancer. Flat polyps can be smaller and harder to see and are more likely to be cancer than raised polyps. Polyps can usually be removed during colonoscopy—the test used to check for colon polyps.

Who gets colon polyps?

Anyone can get colon polyps, but certain people are more likely to get them than others. You may have a greater chance of getting polyps if

  • you’re 50 years of age or older
  • you’ve had polyps before
  • someone in your family has had polyps
  • someone in your family has had cancer of the large intestine, also called colon cancer
  • you’ve had uterine or ovarian cancer before age 50

Find out if someone in your family has had polyps. You may also be more likely to get colon polyps if you

  • eat a lot of fatty foods
  • smoke
  • drink alcohol
  • don’t exercise
  • weigh too much

What are the symptoms of colon polyps?

Most people with colon polyps do not have symptoms. Often, people don’t know they have one until it is found during a regular checkup or while testing for something else. But some people do have symptoms, such as

  • bleeding from the anus. The anus is the opening at the end of the digestive tract where stool leaves the body. You might notice blood on your underwear or on toilet paper after you’ve had a bowel movement.
  • constipation or diarrhea that lasts more than a week.
  • blood in the stool. Blood can make stool look black, or it can show up as red streaks in the stool.

If you have any of these symptoms, contact Dr. Cofrancesco.

How do the Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano test for colon polyps?

Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano use one or more tests to check for colon polyps.

  • Barium enema. A radiologist puts a liquid called barium into your rectum before taking x rays of your large intestine. Barium makes your intestine look white in the pictures. Polyps are dark, so they’re easy to see.
  • Colonoscopy. Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano will give you medicine to sedate you during the colonoscopy. During this test Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano  examines the entire large intestine with a long, flexible tube with a camera that shows images on a TV screen. The tube has a tool that can remove polyps. Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano usually removes polyps during a colonoscopy.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan. With this test, also called virtual colonoscopy, a radiologist puts a thin, flexible tube into your rectum. A machine using x rays and computers creates pictures of the large intestine that can be seen on a screen.The CT scan takes less time than a colonoscopy because polyps are not removed during the test. If the CT scan shows polyps, you will need a colonoscopy so they can be removed.
  • Stool test. Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano will ask you to bring a stool sample in a special cup. The stool is tested in the laboratory for signs of cancer, such as DNA changes or blood.

Who should get tested for colon polyps?

Talk with Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano about getting tested for colon polyps if you’re 50 years of age or older. Also a colonoscopy may be right for you if you are 40 years old and you have had a relative with colon polyps. If you have a family history of colon polyps you should be tested when you are at least ten years younger than the youngest affected relative was diagnosed with polyps. You may need to be tested even earlier earlier if you have symptoms or someone in your immediate family has had polyps or colon cancer.

How are colon polyps treated?

In most cases, Dr. Cofrancesco Dr. Quijano removes colon polyps during colonoscopy. The polyps are then tested for cancer. If you’ve had colon polyps, Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano will likely want you to get tested regularly in the future.

How can I prevent colon polyps?

Researchers don’t know of one sure way to prevent colon polyps. But you might be able to lower your risk of getting them if you

  • eat more fruits and vegetables and less fatty food
  • don’t smoke
  • avoid alcohol
  • exercise most days of the week
  • lose weight if you’re overweight

Eating more calcium may also lower your risk of getting polyps. Some foods that are rich in calcium are milk, cheese, yogurt, and broccoli.

Taking a low dose of aspirin every day might help prevent polyps. Talk with Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano before starting any medication.

Points to Remember

  • A colon polyp is a growth on the surface of the colon, also called the large intestine.
  • Colon polyps can be raised or flat.
  • Some colon polyps are benign, which means they are not cancer.
  • Some types of polyps may already be cancer or can become cancer. Flat polyps can be smaller and harder to see and are more likely to be cancer than raised polyps.
  • Most people with colon polyps do not have symptoms.
  • Symptoms may include constipation or diarrhea for more than a week or blood on your underwear, on toilet paper, or in your stool.
  • Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano removes most colon polyps and tests them for cancer.
  • Talk with Dr. Cofrancesco or Dr. Quijano about getting tested for colon polyps if you’re 50 years of age or older or earlier if you have symptoms or someone in your family has had polyps or colon cancer.

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