What GA Residents Should Know About Colon Polyps
Understanding Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments for Polyps
A colon polyp is a growth that can develop on the large intestine (colon) or the rectum. Not all colon polyps are cancerous; however, some of these growths can later become cancerous colon polyps. Since anyone can potentially develop polyps, including precancerous polyps, it’s important to take charge of your health and be proactive about wellness screenings. At GI Specialists of Georgia, we provide routine polyp screenings in Atlanta, as well as diagnostics and treatment options for colon polyps and colorectal cancer.
Identifying the Symptoms of Polyps
Colon polyp symptoms aren’t always noticeable. Since it’s entirely possible to develop polyps without realizing it, it’s important to have routine screenings even if you think your colon health is fine. When symptoms do develop, they can include the following:
- Bloody stool
- Rectal bleeding
- Unusual fatigue
- Persistent diarrhea or constipation
- Unexplained weight loss
Rarely, some people may also experience abdominal pain.
What Causes Colon Polyps?
All of the cells in your body routinely grow and divide to produce new cells. Sometimes, a genetic mutation can trigger the cells to divide in an uncontrollable manner, producing far more cells than are needed. If this happens in the large intestine or rectum, a polyp can be produced. Certain factors increase the risk of developing colon polyps and colorectal cancer. These include:
- Being age 45 or older
- Having a family history of polyps or cancer
- Using alcohol and/or tobacco
- Having inflammatory intestinal conditions, including Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis
- Not exercising
- Eating a diet high in fat
Some of these risk factors are uncontrollable, like your age and family history. However, making healthy lifestyle choices can help manage other risk factors.
Diagnosing the Types of Colon Polyps
There are different types of colon polyps. One way to categorize them is by determining whether they are neoplastic or non-neoplastic. Non-neoplastic polyps are unlikely to become cancerous, whereas neoplastic polyps can potentially become cancerous.
Our GI specialists can diagnose any type of colon polyp using any of the following:
- Stool-based tests
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
The most reliable diagnostic method is colonoscopy.
Importance of Colonoscopies in Atlanta
We strongly recommend routine colonoscopies for everyone who is age 50 or older, with colon screenings repeated every 10 years. Individuals at a high risk of colon cancer may be advised to begin screenings earlier and possibly to have them more frequently. Since colon polyps often do not cause symptoms, it’s possible to develop cancerous growths without realizing it. The sooner these growths are detected, the better the health outcome is likely to be.
Exploring Your Colon Polyp Treatment Options
In most cases, we can treat colon polyps while we diagnose them during the colonoscopy. Your doctor can use forceps or a wire loop to remove any polyps found during your screening. Occasionally, a polyp may be too large to remove in this manner. In these cases, the patient will need to undergo minimally invasive surgery to remove the polyp.
Get World-class Care in Atlanta, Georgia
At GI Specialists of Georgia, saving lives is our mission. Colon cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., and it’s our goal to address that problem through preventive healthcare and timely interventions. When you’re ready to take charge of your GI health and schedule a colonoscopy, our friendly and professional team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at our office in Atlanta.