Colon polyps are very common, and anyone can develop them. Roughly 30-50% of all adults have them by the time they turn 50. You’re at a greater risk of developing polyps if you’re overweight or a smoker. You could also be at greater risk if you have a family history of polyps or colon cancer1. Depending on your family history, genetics, the size of the polyp, and the severity of the polyp, you may require surgery to remove them. This article explains what colon polyps are, their symptoms, and when surgical intervention may be required.
Colon polyps are small clusters of cells or growths that form on the inner lining of the colon. Although most colon polyps are benign, many can become cancerous if left unchecked or found too late. It becomes particularly important to address polyps as they are found, as colon cancer can be difficult to treat and has a higher fatality rate than other cancers2. The rule of thumb is, the bigger a polyp, the more likely it is to carry the risk of cancer. There are two types of colon polyps3: non-neoplastic and neoplastic. Non-neoplastic polyps typically do not become cancerous, but neoplastic polyps may carry that risk.
Colon polyps are often asymptomatic, or at least painless. They may go undetected until your doctor discovers them during a colonoscopy, which is why regular screenings after a certain age or due to your personal risk factor are important. You may also be concerned about polyps if you experience rectal bleeding. In some rarer cases, you may experience pain, anemia, a change in bowel habits, or a change in stool color4.
Doctors find colon polyps while performing a rectal exam. A diagnosis may also be made based on the results of a CT scan, digital rectal and colon examination, double-contrast barium enema study, sigmoidoscopy (a test that examines the lower intestines), or a colonoscopy (a test that examines the entire colon). After colon polyps have been identified, they may have to be removed.
You should be getting screened for colon polyps regularly if you are genetically predisposed or over the age of 50. If you are considered high-risk, consult your doctor about undergoing regular colon polyps screening, typically annually, at a younger age.
If your polyps are determined to need surgery, you’ll likely qualify for one of four types of polyp removal surgeries:
Everyday preventative measures to keep colon polyps at bay include eating a diet full of fiber, fruits, and vegetables. This also involves adhering to a low-sugar diet. You should also exercise to keep your gut moving effectively, avoid smoking, and limit alcohol consumption. Depending on your specific situation, your doctor may suggest genetic testing or regular screening to monitor the development or growth of cancer-causing colon polyps.
Dr. Franklin joined the medical staff at Piedmont Fayette Hospital in January 2011. He was previously in private practice in Gadsden, Alabama for over five years. He is board certified in general surgery and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
His practice includes the full range of General Surgery – hernia, colon resection, gallbladder surgery, and other diseases of the intestines and abdominal organs. He also does surgery on the thyroid, parathyroids, and skin. He has had a distinguished career in laparoscopic and robotic surgery. While in Alabama, he was the first surgeon in the state to complete a gallbladder removal with the da Vinci robot. After moving back to Georgia, he is the first surgeon in the Piedmont health system to complete gallbladder removal with the da Vinci robot, and also the first ever utilizing a single incision in the umbilicus. He is one of a very few surgeons in the US utilizing this technique. He has been involved in laparoscopic surgery for 20 years and over 12 years robotically.
He has published and given numerous presentations to include topics of advanced laparoscopic procedures, cellular behavior of cancers, trauma, multiple sclerosis, and intravascular ultrasound. He has most recently served as chairman of the department Surgery at Piedmont Fayette. He now serves on the medical executive committee and utilization review committee. He also is involved in research projects in the US and internationally.
Dr. Franklin believes that to plan the best possible operation, the surgeon must understand and listen to the patient. He can then plan and educate the patient in regards to their forward progress. He understands that operations are not without risk, and the patient must understand those risks along with its benefits, and the alternatives to treatment.Make an apppointment