Colon polyps, also known as colorectal polyps, are growths that appear on the surface of the large intestine, also known as the colon. It is possible to have more than one colon polyp, and they may be flat or raised, benign or cancerous. Polyps that are flat may have more likelihood to be cancerous in comparison to raised polyps. Although polyps may sometimes be an indicator of colon cancer, it is important to distinguish the difference between these two conditions. Not everyone who has cancerous polyps will also develop colon cancer, and the removal of potentially cancerous polyps may reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. Currently, doctors do not know what may cause colon polyps. Polyps can be cancerous or benign. When polyps are cancerous, they may be linked to colon cancer, though this is not the sole cause of the polyps. However, there are risk factors and certain unhealthy behaviors that may cause the growth of colon polyps to be more likely. Additionally, if anyone in your family has previously had colon cancer or polyps, this may cause you to be more likely to have polyps due to heredity.
Although anyone is at risk to have colon polyps, some people have a higher risk of having them in comparison to other individuals. It is possible to have a higher risk of developing polyps if there is a family history of colon cancer or polyps previously, the individual has had ovarian or uterine cancer before the age of 50, the individual is 50 years of age or older,or if the individual has had polyps in the past. Unhealthy behaviors can also make the individual more likely to be at risk for polyps, such as being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise, drinking alcohol, and eating a diet rich in too many fats. If individuals are willing to reduce their participating in these types of behaviors, it makes it much easier to reduce the risk associated with developing polyps.
Symptoms associated with polyps can vary. Some people who have colon polyps may not have any symptoms at all. Sometimes these are not discovered until the doctor has found them during a physical exam or performing tests for other conditions. Some of the more noticeable symptoms can include a presence of blood in the stool, anal bleeding, diarrhea, constipation, and blood on the toilet paper or within underwear after a bowel movement has occurred.