Raised lesions from the colon and large intestine wall, often found during a colonoscopy

Colon or rectal polyps are broadly defined as raised lesions from the colon and large intestine wall.

Colon and rectal polyps rarely cause symptoms and are usually found when a colonoscopy is performed as a screening test or to investigate unrelated symptoms. They may also be found less often with other testing. There are multiple types of colon and rectal polyps; some are known to progress to cancer over time if not removed.

Diagnosis

The most common pre-cancerous polyp is called an adenoma and removal of these polyps has been proven to decrease the risk of colon cancer. This is why screening colonoscopy is critically important for the detection and removal of colon and rectal polyps.

A patient may need more frequent colonoscopies or may be referred to a specialist due to a personal or family history of colorectal polyps or cancer. For some with a high risk of colon polyps and cancer, the doctor may recommend specialized testing for genetic syndromes.

Treatment

Treatment focuses on clarifying the personal risk for colon and rectal polyps and cancer for each patient and forming an optimal surveillance program to minimize that risk. This primarily includes colonoscopy, which has been proven to decrease risk of colorectal cancer.

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