Colon polyps are abnormal growths on the lining of a person's colon or large intestine. Benign polyps can be precancerous or malignant and physicians usually need to test a tissue sample from a polyp to find cancer. Polyps can grow in the ascending colon or other parts of the large intestine. Doctors remove polyps that are discovered during an examination of the ascending colon to prevent future cancer development.
A precancerous colon polyp may have a flat or raised appearance. Many people with colon polyps have no symptoms. Most ascending colon precancerous polyps are found during a regular physical examination or with a test for another medical problem. Some people may experience anal bleeding that may include signs such as blood spots on underwear or blood on toilet paper after a bowel movement. Diarrhoea, constipation and bloody stools that have red streaks or a black colour may occur with colon polyps.
A physician performs a colonoscopy to locate and remove polyps that are located anywhere in the colon including the ascending colon. The doctor inserts a long tube or endoscope into the rectum and moves it through the entire length of the colon. The tube has a tiny camera that the physician uses to locate polyps during the procedure. The physician removes each polyp with small tools at the end of the tube. A snare removes the polyp and heat or electricity cauterises the wound to prevent bleeding.
Polyps in the colon that cannot be easily removed during a colonoscopy may require laparoscopic surgery. A surgeon makes several small incisions in the abdominal wall and uses an instrument with a camera to locate the polyp, remove the polyp along with the area of the colon that contains the polyp and close the opening in the colon. Polyps that are surgically removed with laparoscopic surgery cannot grow back, but other polyps may grow in other parts of the colon.
Patients with familial adenomatous polyposis or other rare genetic diseases may develop serious complications from polyps that require surgical removal of a patient's colon and rectum. A surgeon uses a section of the patient's small intestine to create a pouch that he attaches to the anus. Individuals have bowel movements through the constructed pouch and the anus after the procedure. Patients may have several bowel movements each day that expel excess water with fecal waste.
People over the age of 50 and individuals with a personal or family history of colon polyps have an increased risk of developing new colon polyps. Individuals with a family history of colon cancer may be more likely to develop polyps of the colon. Lifestyle factors that may increase the risk of colon polyps include smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages and eating a large amount of fatty foods. Obesity and lack of exercise may increase a person's colon polyp risk.