What Are Polyps & Do I Need A Polypectomy?

Did Your Doc Find A Polyp?

Colon cancer screening is an important task everyone must do from at least age 45. During a colonoscopy, a doctor may detect a polyp. A polyp is an abnormal growth of tissue inside the body. A cluster of rapidly dividing cells can form a small mass or protrusion, often less than an inch wide. In some cases, the doctor will suggest removing the polyp. For growths in the colon, the doctor will perform a polypectomy, a simple, minimally invasive procedure.

Small but potentially dangerous bumps

Polyps are more common in the colon and the cervix. However, other body parts can develop polyps. Common areas include the nose, throat, stomach, and ear. Most are benign growths, meaning the polyp is non-cancerous. If left alone, some cells can continue to multiply, becoming malignant. Larger polyps can also create unwanted side effects. For instance, polyps in the colon can cause abdominal pain, bleeding, and constipation.

Common causes and symptoms

Most polyps develop due to inflammation, cysts, or an abnormal cell mutation. A poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, alcohol, and obesity increase the risk of developing polyps. Some have genetic origins. For instance, if there is a family history of bowel diseases or cancers, colon polyps can develop.

Why would you need a polypectomy?

A polypectomy is the removal of a polyp. A doctor will seek to remove a polyp if there is a possibility of cancer. Large polyps can also cause unwanted symptoms and can lead to gastrointestinal conditions. If these symptoms affect the patient, removing the mass is the best option.

A 2-for-1 exam

A polypectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that happens at the same time as a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is a review of the large intestine for any signs of growths or cancers. The doctor will use a device called a colonoscope to get a full view of the colon. The scope has a high-powered camera attached which sends images to an external monitor. If the doctor locates a polyp, another tool passes through the scope’s opening to remove the growth.

With polypectomy, size matters

Polyps can vary in size, which can determine the method used to remove the mass. For small, flat polyps, the doctor uses forceps to grab and remove the tissue. Larger growths require a snare, a small looped piece of wire that uses heat to remove the polyp. Some polyps may be too large to remove with these devices. These cases are rare but will require more advanced surgical procedures. Once the polyp is removed, the doctor passes a sample to a lab to perform a biopsy. The biopsy determines if the polyp is indeed cancerous and if further treatment is required.

A polypectomy could be a life-saver

Most polyps are harmless but should not be taken lightly. Some can continue to grow, causing intestinal problems, while others have the potential to become cancerous. A polypectomy is a safe, effective method to remove these unwanted polyps. From there, a biopsy can confirm if there is colon cancer. Colon cancer screenings are an essential step in detecting polyps. Anyone age 45 and older or with a family history of colon cancer should immediately get checked for polyps. For more information, speak with a healthcare provider.


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