Colorectal Polyps

Polyps of the colon and rectum share the same etiology and growth pattern. They start in the inner lining (mucosa) of the intestine as abnormal cells multiply and grow. Since some polyps may turn into cancer and the larger the polyp, the higher the chance of cancerous change, early detection and removal of colorectal polyps may prevent colorectal cancer.

Symptoms of colorectal polyps

Most polyps cause no symptom and are found during screening colonoscopy. When polyps grow large, they may cause blood and/or mucus in the stool, change in bowel pattern (change in frequency or stool consistency), or abdominal bloating or cramps due to partial blockage of stool passage.

Diagnosis and treatment of colorectal polyps

Colonoscopy is the "gold-standard" and preferred test used to detect polyps. During colonoscopy, a thin flexible tube with a camera and light is inserted through the anus to examine the rectum and colon, and small polyps may be removed. Larger polyps may need special endoscopic technique and/or repeat endoscopic treatment, and occasionally surgery for complete removal. The removed polyps are sent for pathology diagnosis. If cancer or pre-cancerous cells are found, further testing may be needed. Depending on the size, type and number of polyps found during colonoscopy and your risk for colorectal cancer, you will be advised on how soon and how frequent you should have a repeat colonoscopy. There are alternative screening tests for colorectal polyps and cancer including stool DNA test (Cologuard® ), fecal immunochemical test (FIT), fecal occult blood test (FOBT), and CT colonography. However these test may not be senstive enough for small polyps, and if test results are positive (suggesting blood and/or abnormal cells in stool), you will need a colonoscopy for confirmation and potential treatment.