Colon Polyps Symptoms
Colon polyps symptoms need to be paid attention; they can be a sign of what could be a serious medical condition.
What causes colon polyps symptoms?
Colon polyps growths with a flesh consistency which can form inside of the large intestine (in its lining). The large intestine is also known as the colon. Colon polyps are not a rare occurrence, and they become more common with age. Some estimate that more that one half of individuals over sixty years of age have at least one colon polyp. They can be benign, but their significance lies in the fact that when particular forms of colon polyps increase to a large enough size, they can turn malignant (cancerous); colon cancer is the second-leading cancer-related cause of death in America. This is why it’s important to forgo embarrassment, get screened, and have any polyps removed.
“Adenomatous polyps”, or “adenomas” are the type of colon polyp which can become malignant. Unfortunately, they can account for about three quarters of all polyps in the colon. There are a number of adenoma types; what sets one apart from the next is how the polyp’s cells appear under microscopic inspection. The three types of potentially cancerous polyps are: villous, tubular and tubulo-villous. Villous colon polyps are likeliest to turn malignant; tubular is the least likely form to do so.
The size of a colon polyp also plays a role in whether or not it will become cancerous.
The bigger a polyp becomes, the likelier it is to turn cancerous. If it has reached roughly one inch (2 cm) in size, the risk of its malignancy is approximately twenty percent. This is why it’s strongly suggested that polyps of any size are removed, ideally when of small size, to prevent them from growing larger and becoming cancerous.
Colon Polyps Symptoms – Screening Guidelines
Due to knowledge about how colon polyps can turn malignant, the American Cancer Society has laid out particular screening guidelines, in order to reduce the incidence of colon cancer through the detection and subsequent removal of colon polyps. In accordance with these guidelines, it is suggested that anyone over the age of forty should have a sample of their stool tested for what is known as “occult blood” (the name is given because it refers to blood in the stool which is invisible to the naked eye). It’s suggested this screening be done once annually.
This test is done because if a colon polyp grows large enough, it can bleed into the colon (the large intestine); the blood would then mix with the stool and become an indicative marker for polyps using this test.
The guidelines further suggest that starting at fifty years old, people should, every three years to half a decade, undergo an inspection called a “flexible sigmoidoscopy”. This involves the insertion of a 2.5 foot tube with a diameter of approximately 1 cm, and a light on the end, to inspect roughly one third of the entirety of the colon. Should adenomatous (cancerous) polyps be found during this test, a full colonoscopy using a tube of up to five feet in length will be used to look through the entire colon. During this inspection, a polyp can be removed; it will then be examined using microscopy to see if it is malignant.
Some doctors recommend bypassing the flexible sigmoidoscopy for most healthy individuals of average colon polyps risk and opting instead for colonoscopy, on account of the fact that the former option does not allow a doctor to know the full extent of what may – or may not- be taking place in the patient’s colon; and the fact that polyps can occur higher up than a flexible sigmoidoscopy may reveal.
Are they symptomatic?
According to Medline Plus, most people don’t experience colon polyps symptoms. In general, visible blood in the stool is generally the only sign for a patient to watch for, which is why the importance of getting screened after a certain age is pressed upon patients; it acts as a preventative measure.