Understanding Colon and Rectal Polyps
The colon (also called the large
intestine) is a muscular tube that forms the last part of the digestive tract. It
water and stores food waste. The colon is about 4 to 6 feet long. The rectum is the
inches of the colon. The colon and rectum have a smooth lining composed of millions
cells. Changes in these cells can lead to growths in the colon that can become cancerous
and should be removed. Multiple tests are available to screen for colon cancer, but
colonoscopy is the most recommended test. During colonoscopy, these polyps can be
How often you need this test depends on many things including your condition, your
history, symptoms, and what the findings were at the previous colonoscopy.
When the colon lining changes
Changes that happen in the cells that line the colon or rectum can lead to growths
called polyps. Over a period of years, polyps can turn cancerous. Removing polyps
early may prevent cancer from ever forming.
Polyps are fleshy clumps of tissue
that form on the lining of the colon or rectum. Small polyps are usually benign (not
cancerous). However, over time, cells in a polyp can change and become cancerous.
Certain types of polyps known as adenomatous polyps and serrated polyps are
pre-cancerous. The risk for cancer increases with the size of the polyp and certain
and gene features. This means that they can become cancerous if they're not
removed. Hyperplastic polyps are benign. They can grow quite large and not turn
Almost all colorectal cancers start
when polyp cells starts growing abnormally. As a cancerous tumor grows, it may involve
more and more of the colon or rectum. In time, cancer can also grow beyond the colon
rectum and spread to nearby organs or to glands called lymph nodes. The cells can
travel to other parts of the body. This is known as metastasis. The earlier a cancerous
tumor is removed, the better the chance of preventing its spread.