What is it?
A colon polyp is abnormal tissue growth inside the large intestine, which is also called the colon. These growths are either pedunculated (on stems or stalks that resemble mushrooms) or sessile (flat). If these polyps are not detected in a timely manner, they grow into cancerous cells that penetrate the outer wall of the colon and spread to other organs.
Who's at Risk?
Having a family member with colon cancer increases your risk for developing colon polyps. Seventy-five percent of colon cancer cases are not associated with any risk factors, however. Men and women are equally at risk of developing colon cancer. Most diagnoses are made after age 50 since the risk for this type of cancer increases with age.
Most people with colon cancer do not have symptoms. There is no pain or bleeding, and there are no changes in bowel habits. When a colon cancer has become large enough to change bowel habits, it is at an advanced stage and has spread to other parts of the body.
Because most colon cancer does not produce symptoms, it is important to have routine checkups to make sure your colon is polyp-free. If polyps are found at an early stage, they can be removed before they develop into colon cancer.
For people who do not have a family history of colon cancer, physicians recommend that colon polyp screening should begin at age 50. The most accurate screening method is colonoscopy. It is possible for a colon cancer to develop between screenings, yet they’re usually small and can be surgically removed.