Colon polyps are benign, non-cancerous growths that appear in the inner lining of the colon. During colonoscopies, doctors screen the colon for polyps and if any are found, they are examined to determine their characteristics. Although they are benign, certain characteristics of polyps may mark them as high-risk for developing into cancer. Polyps that are considered high risk require close monitoring and are generally removed with either a colonoscopy or colon surgery.
Polyps appear as 5 different types in the colon, which are determined by their characteristics. If you have been diagnosed with a colon polyp or if you’re just trying to learn more about colon polyps before your colonoscopy, here is everything you need to know about the 5 types of colon polyps.
Adenomatous (tubular adenomas) polyps: Adenomatous polyps are the most common type of polyp. Typically, they amount to about 70% of the polyps found in the colon. Most are not precancerous, but larger ones pose a high risk for becoming cancerous. These kinds of polyps are treated with removal during a colonoscopy and they require regular follow-up screenings to ensure they do not return.
Inflammatory polyps: These kinds of polyps are typically found in people with IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease. They are benign and low-risk, but many colorectal specialists (and patients) prefer to remove them during a colonoscopy.
Hyperplastic polyps: These kinds of polyps are generally small and found near the end of the colon and the rectum. They are also considered low risk and are treatable with removal during a colonoscopy.
Villous or Tubulovillous adenoma polyp: Villous polyps make up about 15% of polyps found in the colon. Most do not develop into cancer but larger ones pose a higher risk, especially if they continue to grow. These polyps can be flat and tougher to remove during colonoscopies, therefore larger ones may require surgery to be removed.
Serrated adenoma polyp: Serrated adenoma polyps makeup 10 to 15 percent of colon polyps and cause 20 to 30 percent of colon cancers. They are also the polyps that are the most difficult to detect during colonoscopies.
Knowing the risk factors for colon polyps is often the first step in learning how to avoid them, especially if you are someone who already suffers from IBD, or another GI condition. Here are some of the main risk factors for colon polyps you should keep in mind.
Being 50 or older
Having a family history of colon polyps or colon cancer
Eating a high-fat, low-fiber diet
Inactivity or lack of exercise
Other conditions such as IBD
The Importance Of A Colonoscopy Screening
Colonoscopy screenings are important for a few reasons. Mainly, they’re used to detect cancer or abnormalities that could be cancer, but they’re also used to screen for colon polyps which may or may not pose a risk for cancer. When colon polyps appear, they typically go unnoticed since they do not present the person with any symptoms. Without a colonoscopy, there is usually no way to tell if they have high-risk colon polyps. These may grow and become colon cancer without their knowledge. That is why colon cancer is one of the most deadly cancers in the U.S., and why it is so important to get regular colonoscopy screenings.
If you would like to set up an appointment to meet with a colorectal specialist, feel free to contact us today! During your consultation, be sure to ask your specialist about your risk of developing colon polyps and whether it’s time for a colonoscopy.