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Colon Polyp

The discovery of a colon polyp should be taken very seriously. While the majority of polyps are benign, removing them can still protect your health because the polyps don’t have a chance to become infected or diseased. Polyps look like little bumps inside the colon and rectum and there are different types of polyps depending on these locations. At any rate, polyps have to be removed for examination. Removal is most commonly executed with a wire loop that snags and cuts them out while burning the “stalk”.

Why Are Colon Polyps So Serious?

Colon cancer is a leading cause of death today in the United States and is high on the “top ten” list in many other countries. Therefore, regular colon screening (and removal of any colon polyp found during the process) is the number one defense. Colon cancer is preventable if detected early enough! Colon polyps can become cancerous over time and regular screenings (especially after age fifty) can help detect the presence of the polyps so that they can be removed and biopsies can occur. When cancerous polyps are not removed, cancer can spread very rapidly.

If you are over fifty years old, you should talk to your doctor about colon screening. If you have a high instance of colon cancer or similar intestinal problems in your family, your doctor may want to start screening you even sooner. The results of your screening will determine the frequency of future tests. Screening and testing is a bit uncomfortable for people (sometimes they really don’t want to know the answer) and this fear can cause you to avoid getting it done. Procrastination, however, can be lethal when it comes to the health of your colon. Testing is very worthwhile as a proactive measure, and most people feel like their old self a day or so later.

Colon Polyp Detection Methods

There are different ways to detect colon polyps, such as the barium enema, colonoscopy, and sigmoidoscopy. Most screenings require that you empty your colon and fast beforehand so the doctor can see what’s going on inside. You may be allowed to drink clear fluids only the day before your actual testing.

Sigmoidoscopy

In a sigmoidoscopy, a flexible tube is inserted into the rectum. A camera at the end of the tube allows the physician to see different areas of the rectum and sigmoid colon.

Barium Enema

In a barium enema, a tube is inserted into the rectum and a special solution permitting an image to appear on an x-ray is injected. The picture displays your digestive system to help the doctor detect any abnormalities such as a colon polyp.

Colonoscopy

In a colonoscopy, a camera on a tube is inserted with the exception the entire colon is viewable. A colonoscopy is considered the most thorough examination technique for looking at any potential colon polyp. A clear picture of the entire bowels is available for the physician to examine instead of a single part of the colon.

When a colon polyp is discovered by any of these procedures, it can be quickly removed. The frequency of such tests is determined by the number of polyps detected, plus the size and type of polyp and your family history.

Types and Symptoms of Colon Polyps

Typically, the larger a polyp is, the greater the chance for it to become cancerous. There are several names for a colon polyp depending on its size and shape.

  1. Adenomatous polyps can become cancerous.
  2. Villous adenomas is likely to become cancerous.
  3. Tubular, hyperplastic, inflammatory, and hamartomatous polyps are the remaining types but these do not usually become malignant.

One sign of colon polyps is rectal bleeding, but this isn’t an absolute. Much of the bleeding may be invisible to the naked eye so it’s becoming more common to have a stool sample tested to detect abnormalities such as occult (minor) blood presence.

Preventing Polyps of the Colon

If a colon polyp is the principle cause of colon cancer, you might be wondering what you can do to reduce the likelihood of polyps growing in the first place. It’s not entirely clear why polyps develop, but maintain healthful diets, exercising more often, and receiving regular screenings are essential for everyone. People with increased potential for colon cancer due to heredity should pay special attention to their bowel health by eating well.

Certain vitamins like E and D, and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli, have demonstrated some success in reducing the chances of cells developing from a colon polyp into cancer. Drinking a small glass of red wine each week is likewise generating some interest in the medical community as a method for preventing colon cancer.

The best defense against contracting colon cancer is to take excellent care of your digestive system by improving your diet—stick to organic foods such as raw vegetables and fresh fruits, lean meats, whole grain breads and pastas, berries, and legumes and stay away from fast food, junk foods, salty or fatty snacks, and other highly processed items. To coin a phrase, an ounce of fiber is worth a pound of polyps, so eat well and practice a healthy lifestyle every day!

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