Colorectal polyps are rather common, with approximately 50 percent of people age 60 or older having one or more adenomatous polyps; however, only six percent of these people develop colon cancer. Patients may have more than one polyp, and the risk of having polyps increases with age. The chance of having polyps is also increased in patients with a family history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer, including inherited disorders such as Gardner’s syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis.
Adenomas typically cause few symptoms; however, painless rectal bleeding is the most common symptom. There is no known way to prevent polyps, but they are easily removed by colonoscopy, which eliminates the risk of cancer in most cases. The surgical pathologist establishes the diagnosis of adenoma by microscopic examination of a biopsy specimen and also determines whether the tissue contains cancer or other disease. This information is essential in determining if further treatment is necessary and, if so, what kind will be most beneficial.
Treatment Options for Adenomas:
Colonoscopy – A colonoscopy may be performed in an outpatient surgical facility. Through the use of a colonoscope, a physician can view the lining of the colon and remove individual polyps via a biopsy an essentially painless procedure. Some large polyps may require surgical removal.
Follow-up Colonoscopy – Additional colonoscopies, over time, will be necessary to monitor your condition and check on the possible development of new polyps. It is essential that you periodically monitor your condition in order to reduce your risk of cancer.
Measures You Can Take to Prevent Colorectal Cancer:
- Monitor your bowel habits and consult your physician if you experience any of the following:
– Changes in routine bowel movements
– Abdominal cramps
– Unexplained, significant weight loss (>10%)
– Blood in your stool
- Maintain a high-fiber diet that is low in fat and calories; consult your physician for proper diet and nutrition information.
- Consult your physician as to the advisability of your taking nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs and/or dietary supplements, e.g., calcium, to reduce your risk of developing polyps.
Important Questions to Ask Your Doctor:
- Does my polyp increase my risk of developing colorectal cancer?
- What can I do to take care of myself during and after treatment?
- To whom may I turn for nutritional and dietary information?
- What can I do to reduce my risk of developing additional polyps or cancer?
Sources of Additional Information :
American College of Gastroenterology : acg.gi.org
American Gastroenterological Association : gastro.org
This Patient Diagnostic Fact Sheet is provided to you as a service by AmeriPath. It is intended for patient education and information only. It does not constitute advice nor should it be taken to suggest or replace professional medical care from your physician. Your treatment options may vary, depending upon your medical history and current condition. Only your physician and you can determine your best treatment option.