Colon polyps, sometimes called colorectal polyps, are polyps that occur in the colon or rectum. These precancerous polyps are small, benign clumps, which over time can grow larger and become cancerous.
If you’ve found yourself wondering — “what are colon polyps and are they dangerous?”, you’re not alone! Many people ask similar questions and that’s why we’re here to help! It’s important to have a grasp over polyps and what they are, so you can take the right steps toward colon cancer prevention in the future.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what exactly colon polyps are, how some become cancerous, and when to determine if you need a colon cancer natural treatment plan. We’ll also discuss how to keep an eye on colon polyps with different types of regular screenings.
What Are Colon Polyps?
Polyps can occur throughout the body, like in the stomach, nose, ear, and uterus, but they’re commonly found in the colon. A colon polyp is a growth of tissue. These colon polyps form on the inner lining of the colon (or large intestine). Basically, in a colon that’s healthy, the lining will act in a constant state of shedding the old cells by way of the stool and replacing them with new cells. But when something gets in the way of this process, it causes the older cells to clump and form a polyp.
Polyps are common 1 and become more normal as people age. At least 30 percent of adults who are 50 years or older in the United States are reported to have had polyps. They can also happen in children, an estimated 6 percent which rises to 12 percent in children who experience intestinal bleeding.
Though colon polyps are benign, some polyps (called adenomatous polyps) can turn to cancer. A small percentage of these polyps 2 become cancerous, yet nearly all polyps that are malignant after being tested began as adenomatous.
What Are the Types of Colon Polyps?
Now that we’ve answered the question — what are colon polyps — let’s cover the two types of colon polyps. The two most common types of polyps are hyperplastic or inflammatory polyps and Adenomas or Adenomatous polyps.
Hyperplastic or Inflammatory Polyps
Hyperplastic and inflammatory polyps usually refer to harmless colon polyps that don’t carry a risk of developing into cancer.
Adenomas or Adenomatous Polyps
If left untreated, adenomas or adenomatous polyps have the potential to turn into colon cancer. For this reason, they’re often called precancerous polyps. Under a microscope, these polyps have various growth patterns. The patterns are referred to as tubular or villous or tubulovillous (which is a combination of both). Small adenomas have a tubular growth pattern, whereas the larger ones have a villous growth pattern that is more likely to develop into cancer.
Risk Factors for Polyps
Anyone can develop these types of colon and rectal polyps, but here are a handful of risk factors:
- People who are 50 years and older
- A family history of polyps or colon cancer (particularly if family members were younger when they were diagnosed)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
- A high-fat, low-fiber diet
- Red meat and processed meat consumption
- Use of tobacco and alcohol
- Lack of exercise and obesity
Are Polyps Dangerous?
Although polyps can seem scary, remember that they are often harmless. Because polyps often show no signs until they are larger, one of the most important things you can do is to get screened. Screening will help to find the precancerous polyps which can then be removed.
In the event that you have any of the following symptoms, see your doctor, as they may be a sign of colon cancer:
- Unexplained or sudden weight loss
- Rectal bleeding that is either bright or dark red in color
- Narrow, ribbon-like stool shape
- Tenesmus (or the feeling that you must empty your bowel, yet are unable to do so)
- Persistent bowel changes like diarrhea and constipation
- Anemia caused by an iron deficiency
- Abdominal pain like cramps, gas, or discomfort
- Feelings of weakness or fatigue
Regular Screening for Colon Cancer
The American Cancer Society recommends starting screening at age 45 for people of average risk. Keep in mind that people at average risk do not include the following:
- Individuals who have previously had colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
- A family history of colon cancer
- A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
- A confirmed or suspected hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome (familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome)
- A personal history of getting radiation to the abdomen or pelvic area to treat a previous cancer
If you have colon polyps, monitoring them and getting them removed can greatly decrease your risk for colon cancer. According to cancer.net 3 , below are the tests used to screen for colon cancer. In familiarizing yourself with them, you’ll be ready (and fearless!) to take these tests on.
During a colonoscopy, the doctor examines the entirety of the rectum and colon. They use a flexible tube called a colonoscope, which is placed into the rectum and the colon to search for polyp growths or cancer. Throughout this test, the doctor can also take out small polyps or tissue for examination.
Computed tomography (CT or CAT) Colonography
Sometimes referred to as a virtual colonoscopy, the CT colonography is a screening method that’s being studied in some centers. It’s done by a radiologist and is seen as a potential alternative for those who can’t go under anesthesia for a regular colonoscopy — or for those who might have a blockage in the colon that prevents the procedure of a colonoscopy.
A sigmoidoscopy uses a lighted, flexible tube inserted into the rectum and lower colon to look for polyps or abnormal symptoms. The doctor can remove polyps but cannot check the upper part of the colon during this test. If polyps are found, a colonoscopy to view the entire colon (the upper part called the ascending and traverse colon) is suggested.
Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) and Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)
A fecal occult blood test is used to find bloody stool which can be a sign of polyps or cancer. If a test is positive, that means blood has been found in the stool. This can also be caused by bleeding in the upper GI tract and ingestion of certain foods, like rare meat. Polyps and cancers don’t bleed continually, so this test is done several times a year and repeated each year for the best results. American Cancer Society notes that this screening test provides a small reduction in deaths from this type of cancer (about 30% if the test is done yearly and about 18% if it is done every other year).
Double Contrast Barium Enema (DCBE)
This test is used for patients who cannot have a colonoscopy. They’re given an enema containing barium, which allows the colon and rectum to be seen visibly on x-rays. Typically, doctors suggest other screening methods, as this method has a decreased chance of identifying possible cancerous polyps over sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, or CT colonography.
Stool DNA Tests
These tests analyze DNA from a stool sample to look for cancer and determine whether a colonoscopy should be done.
What if Your Colon Polyps are Cancerous?
If you’ve done the test and found that your colon polyps are cancerous, we’re here for you. At Immunity Therapy Center, we are pioneers of alternative cancer treatments. Our types of treatment for colorectal cancer may include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy, though there is a wide range of alternative treatments that can support our patients’ recovery. These alternative methods come without the negative side effects of conventional treatments.
Alongside his team, Dr. Bautista is committed to creating completely personalized treatment plans for his patients. With attentiveness, respect, and care, he’ll find the exact treatment that works for you. If you’re interested in holistic cancer treatment centers to aid you in your recovery, reach out to us today.
We’re located in Tijuana, which has become a hub for alternative therapy clinics and paved the way for holistic care to become part of the cancer treatment dialogue. Whether we’re treating colon cancer or other cancer types, our individualized health plan takes into account your family history, disease history, and environmental factors. Our doctors provide a comprehensive plan that targets both the body and mind and helps you fight back against the disease.
For more information about our treatment options, feel free to contact us today. From all of us at Immunity Therapy Center, thank you for reading. We’re happy you’re here and look forward to becoming a part of your journey to wellness.
Written By: Dr. Adolfo Carrillo
Dr. Adolfo Carrillo is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California.
Dr. Carrillo has been collaborating with Dr. Bautista for over 5 years as a treating physician at the Immunity the Immunity Therapy Center. Dr. Carrillo is a charismatic Doctor whose knowledge and commitment to patient care and bringing healing to patients is a valuable asset to our center.
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.