What Are Colorectal Polyps?

Colon and Rectal Polyps Fast Facts:

  • People are more at risk of getting them if they are obese, smoke, or have a family history of polyps.
  • You can have more than one at a time.
  • They affect 15-20% of adults.
  • They don’t usually produce any symptoms.

Colorectal polyps are irregular growths in the lining of the colon or rectum. They are caused when the genes mutate and produce abnormal cells that mix with the healthy ones. The new cells keep multiplying even though the body isn’t using them. As a result, a polyp forms. Colorectal polyps have a strong family history relationship because these mutated genes can be passed through families, although the experts at West Valley Colon & Rectal Surgery Center often see patients who have colorectal polyps with no accompanying family history.

If left untreated, colorectal polyps can grow over time. When they are small, patients usually will not experience symptoms, but during the later stages, patients might begin to notice them. The first symptoms are usually changes in the pattern of your bowel movements. The stool might look darker than usual and patients might find blood on the toilet paper. Then, patients may start to feel uneasy in their stomach paired with feelings of nausea.

But if polyps don’t present any symptoms, how can you tell if you have them? Fortunately, colorectal polyps don’t develop until later in life, which is why we strongly encourage that patients come in for colorectal polyp screenings starting at age 50. Colonoscopies are the gold standard for finding polyps, and if any are found, the surgeon can remove them right then and there. Patients can also opt for a virtual colonoscopy, also known as a CT scan of the colon. During this procedure, the colon is cleansed and expanded so the physician can get a good view and look for any polyps.

Is it necessary to have all polyps removed?
Even if polyps are not producing symptoms, patients with colorectal polyps should have them removed. Colorectal polyp treatment is vital because if left untreated, the polyps may develop into colorectal cancer. Discovering and removing colorectal polyps is the first line of defense against cancer, and patients who have polyps removed early have the best chance of not developing cancer, or having a better chance at treatment. Our physicians recommend having a colonoscopy once every 10 years after the age of 50 to ensure that any existing polyps do not become cancerous. 

If you have any questions or wish to make an appointment, please call our office at (623) 875-7330. Thank you again for visiting our weekly blog. In future weeks, you can expect patient education, colon, and rectal educational information, and lifestyle blogs, so check back soon!

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.