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A colorectal polyp is a clump of cells that form on the lining of the colon, also be known as a colon polyp. In most cases, they are harmless but do require removal, as they can interfere with colon function. There is a chance a colon polyp may become cancerous, so talk with your doctor about your risk of developing these growths. Keep reading to learn more about colon and colorectal polyps.

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What Causes a Polyp?

Colorectal polyps are thought to be caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. If you have relatives with polyps, you may be more likely to develop them, as well. If you eat a lot of fatty foods and have a diet low in fruits and vegetables, you may be at risk. Lifestyle choices such as smoking cigarettes and not getting enough exercise may also put you at risk. If you give your doctor a complete family history of illnesses, he or she can tell you if you are at an increased risk.

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Can They Go Away on Their Own?

Polyps won’t just go away on their own. They grow rather slowly, are generally extremely small, and usually have to be removed by a doctor. Some people may not experience any symptoms of colon polyps, while others will experience symptoms that can affect the quality of life, especially if the polyps become cancerous. If you have a family history of colon polyps or colon cancer, it is best to have regular colonoscopies. Your doctor will be able to tell you when you should start having them.

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Can Polyps be Prevented?

You can prevent polyps to some extent, but studies show even with a healthy lifestyle, polyps are still prevalent in some individuals. Choosing to live a healthy lifestyle can lower your risk of developing polyps in the first place, however. If you eat a healthy diet and maintain a regular exercise regimen, you may have a lower chance of developing a polyp. Eating foods high in calcium has also shown to provide a lower risk of developing polyps.

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If You Have Polyps, Do You Have Cancer?

No, not necessarily. However, colorectal cancer usually begins as polyps. Your doctor will remove the polyps and test the tissue for signs of disease. Polyps are often a sign that something is wrong, but most are not cancerous. Colorectal cancer can occur without polyps, but it is sporadic. If you have a family history of colon cancer, talk to your medical provider. He or she may perform tests more often to ensure that you aren’t at risk.

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How Are Colon Polyps Treated?

The best form of treatment for colon polyps is to have them removed altogether. This process happens during a colonoscopy; surgery is not necessary to remove them. Once they are gone, your physician will perform regular testing to ensure they do not return. A sample will be sent to a pathologist to check for cancerous cells after the operation. If you experience any bleeding after the removal of a polyp, contact your doctor right away.

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When Should I Be Screened for Polyps?

Screening for colorectal polyps usually begins at the age of 50, unless you have a family history or signs of developing colon cancer. If you have risk factors, your doctor may recommend screening begin at a younger age. Screenings should be done when you have no symptoms, to ensure that there are no problems in the colon.

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What Screening Procedure Finds Polyps?

The best test to find polyps is a colonoscopy. A PET scan may also be necessary, but a colonoscopy can find both small and large polyps. This operation is performed using a small camera inserted into the rectum that gives the doctor a full view of the colon and any abnormalities that may be there.

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Symptoms of Colorectal Polyps

Often, people with colon polyps do not experience any symptoms. However, if you experience bleeding from your anus, blood in your stool, or are feeling overly tired, contact your doctor immediately. Bleeding from the rectum could cause a lack of iron. These symptoms are tell-tale signs that something is wrong. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the symptoms you are experiencing to receive the best diagnosis.

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What Do Polyps Look Like?

There are many types of colon polyps, and they all have a different look to them. During a colonoscopy procedure, the colon should not have any lumps. When polyps are found, they will be raised bumps on the inside of the colon and can vary in color and size. Some may be the same color as the colon itself, while others may be red. Your surgeon will be able to determine the type by the way they look after removal.

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Recovery Time After Polyp Removal

The removal of polyps is called a polypectomy. Recovery usually takes around two weeks. The procedure has a low risk for complications. It is normal to feel some pain after the operation, and your physician will give you medication to help with the pain. Some bleeding is normal, but if it is heavy, call your doctor immediately. You should also call your doctor if you notice a foul smell, as this can indicate an infection. Your doctor will give you directions to follow to ensure your recovery goes well.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.