What Do You Know About Colon Polyps?

Colon  polyps  are basically abnormal tissue growths in the lining of the colon, also known as the large intestine. For the most part these growths are benign, i.e. they are not cancerous. However, it is definitely worth checking to see if you have them.

Why should I check for colon  polyps  and how can they affect my bowel health?

As mentioned previously colon  polyps , for the most part, are completely benign and are therefore are nothing to worry about. The danger is though that they have the potential to become cancerous. So therefore, for this reason, people need to be aware that they should arrange to check for the presence of colon  polyps  so that they can be removed if found.

Can just anyone get  polyps  and who should get checked?

The simple answer is yes just about anyone can have them in their bowel. The risks of having them are higher if someone in your family has already had them or has had bowel cancer but even if this is not the case everybody is at risk of developing colon  polyps  and indeed colon cancer to a greater or lesser degree. If you do have a family association with colon  polyps  or bowel cancer and even if you don’t but you are over 40 it is definitely a good idea to get checked for them.

What then are the symptoms?

Generally they have no easily visible symptoms and often go completely unnoticed. People are simply not aware that they have a potential problem unless they have a procedure to specifically check for  polyps  or if they are found during some other check or procedure. Sometimes colon  polyps  can cause bleeding from the bowel or rectum. Sometimes (but not always) this is visible in the stools/faeces or poo (again as we say in England). You should examine your stools before flushing and if you do see traces of blood this always needs to be checked out by your doctor. Do, however, keep in mind that there are many other causes of blood in the stools e.g. piles or fissures, so do not panic.

What medical testsare there for  polyps ?

There are a number of different tests that can be made for  polyps  including:

  • Sigmoidoscopy, – This involves the insertion of special instrument containing a video camera with a light source into the rectum so that the doctor can actually look at the lower part the large intestine on a video screen.
  • Colonoscopy- This is very similar to a sigmoidoscopy, except that the patient is sedated for the their comfort and it enables the doctor to see the entire large intestine.
  • Barium enema- Here a special liquid called Barium is introduced to the large intestine by way of an enema and X-rays are taken of the lining of the large intestine to check for the presence of potential  polyps 
  • Faecal Occult Blood Test – This is a straightforward test that looks for even minute traces of blood in the stools. These tests can be carried by your doctor or even at home and are simple and painless.