Colonic polyps are benign tumors (growths) that are formed in the large intestine (colon) or rectum. It is estimated that 10%-15% of the population over the age of 60 has colonic polyps. Polyps do have a tendency to transform to malignant cancer if not removed. Tubular adenomas and villous adenomas are the most common kinds of pre malignant tumors. The chance of cancer increases with the size of the polyp. The term dysplasia is used when benign polyps begin to turn to cancer.
There are certain syndromes that represent genetic defects that produce large numbers of polyps such as familial polyps. Polyps do have a tendency to be genetically transmitted. Polyps also have a tendency to reoccur after being removed. It is recommended by the National Cancer Society that individuals without significant family history of GI symptoms should have a screening colonoscopy at age 50. Colonoscopy should be performed much sooner if there are GI symptoms or if there is a family history of colon cancer or polyps. Occasionally, polyps will need to be removed by repeated colonoscopies if the polyps are very large or there are a large number of polyps. Sometimes a polyp cannot be removed by colonoscopy and it will be recommended to have it surgically removed.
After polyps have been removed through the colonoscope, it is recommended for the individual to be placed on a surveillance program. This entails a repeat colonoscopy every two to 3 years. This time frame may decrease depending on the type, size, and number of polyps found. Colon cancer can be prevented by removal of polyps with a subsequent surveillance program.
For more information please visit:
The American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgeons