Overview

Colon polyp (also known as colorectal polyps) is the tissue growth at the lining of the colon. Some colon polyp may turn into a colon cancer if left untreated at an earlier stage.

Most people with colon polyp are asymptomatic, therefore it is recommended to have regular screening test such as colonoscopy at an early age to prevent the colon cancer. People who are at 50 years old and above are at risk to develop colon polyps, however not all colon polyps develop into colon cancer.

Two main categories of polyps:

    • Nonneoplastic: There is a possibility that non-neoplastic polyps will not progress into a cancer. This types of colon polyp includes hyperplastic polyps, inflammatory polyps, and hamartomatous polyps.
    • Neoplastic: This type of polyps have the potential to evolve into a cancerous polyp if left untreated. This includes adenomas and serrated type of polyps.

Symptoms

Most people with colonic polyp are asymptomatic. In some symptomatic case, the signs and symptoms of are as follows:

  • Blood in stool: black stool (dark-colored) or have red streaks it could be a sign and symptom of colon polyp, however a change in color of the stool could also be caused by other factors such as dark colored food, or medications.
  • Bleeding at the rectum: if your rectum is bleeding, this could be a sign of colon polyp or colon cancer.
  • Change in bowel movement: either constipation or diarrhea that last longer than a week.
  • Iron deficiency anemia: lack of iron in the body could lead to tiredness and fatigue.
  • Abdominal pain: as it is rare but abdominal pain or cramps could be a sign and symptom of colon polyp.

If you notice any signs and symptoms that are persistent then you could make an appointment with your doctor. Investigation may be recommended due to that colon polyp signs and symptoms are not specific with the disease.

Causes

Polyps could occur in any part of the large intestine. Its genetic changes in the cells at the colon affects the normal cycle of the cells. The excessive growth of the cells developed into a polyp.

Risk factors

Factors that may increase colon polyp risk includes:

  • Age: all age could develop colon polyps but people who are 50 years old and above have higher risk.
  • Family History: people with a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) with colonic polyp or other types of cancer increase the risk of developing this disease.
  • Smoking and alcohol intake: people who smokes and have excessive alcohol intake are higher risk to develop colon polyps compared to nonsmokers and non-drinkers.
  • Obesity: people who are overweight or obese have higher risk to develop colon polyps.
  • Food intake: people who eat too much processed food and red meat are at risk to develop the disease.
  • Race: African American ethnicity are at risk to have colon polyps compare to other race.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease: people who have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis of the colon increases the risk for colon polyps or colon cancer.