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Colonic Polyps - Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Colonic polyps are small growths that form on the colon lining; while they are usually benign, they can sometimes develop into cancer.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Vasavada Bhavin Bhupendra

Published At January 18, 2023
Reviewed AtMay 31, 2023

Introduction:

Colonic polyps are small lumps in the colon that develop over time. They can develop in any part of the colon but are most common at the end above the rectum. The risk of developing these is higher in people who have family members suffering from the condition. This is because some genetic syndromes increase this risk. There are different types of colonic polyps, so let us take a closer look at each.

What Are the Types of Colonic Polyps?

There are two main types of colonic polyps: neoplastic and nonneoplastic. Neoplastic polyps are those that are cancerous or have the potential to become cancerous. Non-neoplastic polyps are benign and pose no threat of becoming cancerous, which include hyperplastic polyps and inflammatory and hamartomatous polyps.

Colonic Adenomatous Polyps:

Adenomatous polyps start as benign growths in the large intestine that resemble grape-like clusters. These polyps can potentially become colorectal adenocarcinoma (a type of cancer). Diagnosing adenomatous polyps during an early stage is essential for treating them successfully. Most adenomatous polyps are diagnosed during a routine colonoscopy. There are also other methods of diagnosis, such as imaging scans and blood tests. These polyps can affect you at any age, but they are more common in older people. Adenomatous polyps commonly occur on the right side of the colon. They are typically between 2 and 10 mm (millimeter) wide and are usually round or oval when viewed through a microscope.

Colonic Hamartoma Polyps:

Hamartoma polyps are very rare and usually benign growths found in the rectum's innermost lining. They are slightly raised, fleshy growths in different shapes and sizes. Hamartoma polyps are treated by removing them completely.

Colonic Inflammatory Polyps:

Inflammatory colonic polyps are a type of polyp that arises from the inflammation of the colon. These polyps are typically found in the rectum and sigmoid colon and range from a few millimeters to several centimeters. Treatment involves the removal of the polyp by endoscopic or surgical means.

What Are the Causes of Colonic Polyps?

The exact cause of colonic polyps is unknown, but several risk factors can contribute to their development, including:

  • A diet high in fat and low in fiber.

  • A family history of colonic polyps or colon cancer.

  • Chronic inflammation of the colon.

  • Certain medications, such as steroids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

If any of these risk factors are present, talk to doctor about risk for colonic polyps and how to lower them.

What Are the Symptoms of Colonic Polyps?

Symptoms of colonic polyps can include bleeding, blood in the stool, a change in bowel habits, and abdominal pain. Colonic polyps can cause a variety of symptoms. Rectal bleeding is one of the most common symptoms, and it can occur either during bowel movement or when wiping oneself after a bowel movement. A change in stool color can also be a symptom of colonic polyps, which may mean that stool is darker than usual or has a reddish tint. A change in bowel habits may be noticed, such as more frequent bowel movements or looser stools. Pain in the abdomen can also be a symptom, and it may be accompanied by bloating or cramping. Iron deficiency anemia can also be a symptom of colonic polyps, which occurs when the polyps bleed and cause blood loss.

What Is the Diagnosis of Colonic Polyps?

There are several ways to diagnose colonic polyps, including colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, CT (computed tomography) scan, and stool tests.

A colonoscopy is the most common method for diagnosing colonic polyps. A doctor inserts a long, thin tube into the colon, allowing the doctor to visualize polyps. However, a colonoscopy can be invasive and uncomfortable.

Sigmoidoscopy is a less invasive alternative to colonoscopy. A doctor inserts a shorter, thinner tube with a camera into the sigmoid colon. This allows the doctor to visualize polyps that may be present in these areas.

CT scan is a non-invasive option for diagnosing colonic polyps. During a CT scan, a series of X-rays are taken to create detailed images of the inside of the body. A CT scan can detect polyps in the colon, but is not as accurate as colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.

Stool tests are a non-invasive option for diagnosing colonic polyps. A stool sample is collected and tested for blood or other abnormal cells during the stool tests. Stool tests are not as accurate as colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, but they may be an option for people who cannot have these procedures.

It is important to note that the longer the polyps are left untreated, the higher the likelihood they will become a more aggressive form of cancer. This is why it is vital to get any abnormal growths in colon or rectum examined by a doctor immediately.

What Is the Treatment of Colonic Polyps?

Treatment for colonic polyps depends on the polyp's type, size, and location. Smaller polyps may be removed during a colonoscopy, while larger polyps may require surgery. Some polyps may be treated with medication or other medical procedures.

These are main types of treatment for colonic polyps, removal with forceps or a wire loop, minimally invasive surgery, and colon removal. Removal with forceps or a wire loop is the most common type of treatment and is typically done on an outpatient basis.

Conclusion:

Colonic polyps progress into colorectal cancer if not treated. Therefore, knowing the signs and symptoms of these growths is important to receive treatment as soon as possible. Colonic polyps can be significantly reduced by regular screenings and adopting healthy lifestyle changes.

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Dr. Vasavada Bhavin Bhupendra
Dr. Vasavada Bhavin Bhupendra

Surgical Gastroenterology

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