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Colorectal Polyp - An Overview

A colorectal polyp is a small clump of cells that develop on the inner lining of the colon. Colorectal polyps are harmless, but can develop into colorectal cancer if not treated. People over the age of 50 years have a higher risk of developing these polyps.

Types of Colorectal Polyp

Adenomatous is the most common type of polyp, which leads to colorectal or colon cancer. The likelihood that this type of polyp develops into cancer depends on the size of the polyp.

Serrated polyps may develop into cancer based on the size and the area in which they grow. Small serrated polyps grow in the lower part of the colon, also known as hyperplastic polyps. These polyps are rarely malignant. Larger serrated polyps are difficult to detect as they grow in the upper part of the colon and can be cancerous.

Inflammatory polyps may develop into ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. These polyps are less malignant, but if treated on time, they may have less chance of developing into colorectal cancer.

Causes of Colorectal Polyp

There are no apparent causes of colorectal polyps. It is an abnormal tissue growth. A healthy body grows and divides new cells in a regulated manner. But in some cases, the new cells keep on growing before they are needed. This abnormal growth results in formation of polyps, which can grow anywhere in the large intestine.

Some of the risk factors, however, may include age, family history, excessive use of tobacco and alcohol etc.

Symptoms of Colorectal Polyp

People who have colorectal polyp may have the following symptoms:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in the stool or change of stool color
  • Constipation and diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
  • Anemia

Diagnosis of Colorectal Polyp

If the patient suffers from any of the symptoms, the doctors may conduct several tests, which include:

CT colonography and sigmoidoscopy are conducted to detect the polyps. Colonoscopy to check where the polyps have grown may be done. The doctor will either remove them or take tissue samples to test if they are cancerous. Barium enema can also be done to detect polyps. Stool sample test is also done to check for blood in the stool.

Treatments of Colorectal Polyp

The primary colorectal polyp treatment is to remove the polyps during the screening tests. If the polyps are smaller, they can be removed with the surgical forceps or a wire loop. However, in case of a larger polyp, a minimal surgery may be done to remove it. Doctors usually recommend an endoscopic mucosal resection surgery in such cases.

In severe cases of multiple polyps, doctors may suggest the patient to get the colon removed completely.

Follow-up care is often advised by the doctor which will include screening tests to ensure that all the polyps have been removed.

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