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Rectal Polyps

Rectal polyps are defined as extra pieces of tissue that grow inside your large intestine (also know as the colon) or rectal area. Polyps are common and are not always cancerous. As a matter of fact, many polyps are benign and most tiny growths are not harmful. Nonetheless, to err on the safe side, your doctor will biopsy any polyps found and then a pathologist will examine them to determine if cancer is present.

How do you find out if you have rectal polyps inside your body? If you are over the age of fifty, a colonoscopy is often scheduled once every five years to look for signs of colorectal cancer. If you have a family history of cancer or certain health issues, you might be tested earlier.   There are several ways a doctor can look for polyps such as a digital rectal exam, sigmoidoscopy, or a barium enema. Very often a doctor will elect to do a colonoscopy. This procedure is a very thorough one that can give a full picture of the large intestine, and perhaps screen for pre-cancerous polyps early before they become a danger to your health.

If rectal polyps are found, a doctor will remove them and have a biopsy done in order to determine whether or not they are cancerous. The results will determine the next course of action and the frequency of future testing.

Symptoms of Polyps

Polyps can cause rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, or an alteration in your typical bowel habits.  But, many people can have polyps and be asymptomatic which means no symptoms are present at all. You can have polyps and not be aware of them until receiving a routine colonoscopy, which makes the procedure all the more important especially later in life. It’s being reported that colon cancer is the second leading cause of death each year in many countries such as the United States, but this can be prevented with a proactive approach to health.

Colonoscopy Preparation

It can be difficult to face your own mortality and a colonoscopy isn’t a very pleasant sounding procedure. If your doctor recommends performing this procedure on you because you are at a higher risk for colon cancer, or due to your age or other risk factors, it’s important to use every measure possible to protect your health. This is a common and fairly simple procedure that can yield quick results to determine if you have a medical problem.

Most preoperative preparations for a colonoscopy are fairly simple. A day of fasting and cleansing will be required. You will be asked to drink a solution requiring you to stay at home where you can be comfortable and close to a bathroom. You’ll need to drink only clear liquids the day before the procedure so your large intestine is thoroughly emptied of all waste. Rectal polyps are easy to identify and will be removed and sent to a laboratory for the biopsy. You will be sedated for the procedure and will need to have someone else take you home. You should feel well within a day or so and be able to resume your normal activity and diet, although cautiously at first due to the fasting.

Types of Rectal Polyps

There are three main types of rectal polyps: inflammatory, hyperplasic, and adenomatous.  Inflammatory and hyperplasic polyps are rarely malignant (cancerous). However, adenomatous polyps larger than a quarter of an inch are more likely to be problematic due to an increased risk of becoming cancerous.

Removal of polyps is crucial for helping to prevent colon cancer. The larger the polyp is, the more likely it contains cancerous cells or will develop into cancer later.

Risk Factors for Colon Cancer

Risk factors for colon cancer include heredity and a sedentary lifestyle.  A sedentary lifestyle can prevent your body from working efficiently which can lead to waste fermenting in your body. Diet and substance abuse (such as alcohol and tobacco) can also contribute to an increased risk of developing a variety of cancers. A high-fiber, low-fat diet can help keep your colon in good working order.

Many factors that can help you improve your chances of avoiding rectal polyps and colon cancer focus on diet and lifestyle. Folic acid and calcium are sometimes recommended to help prevent polyps from developing. The key in preventing polyps from becoming cancerous is to first remove them for study, followed by stringent monitoring of your colon health by your family physician.

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