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Polyps of the Colon & Rectum

WHAT ARE COLON AND RECTAL POLYPS?

Colonic polyps are abnormal growths rising from the lining of the large intestine (colon or rectum). Some polyps are flat rather like warts and are described in medical terms as being sessile. Others have a stalk similar to mushrooms in appearance, these are descibed as being pedunculated.

Polyps are one of the most common conditions affecting the colon and rectum, occurring in 15 to 20 percent of the adult population.  Although most polyps are benign some types can become malignant over a period of several years.  This picture shows the typical appearances of colonic polyps.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF COLONIC POLYPS?

Most polyps produce no symptoms and often are found incidentally during endoscopy or x-rays of the bowel. Some polyps, however, can produce bleeding, mucous discharge or alteration in bowel habit.

HOW ARE POLYPS DIAGNOSED?

Polyps are diagnosed either by looking at the colon lining directly (colonoscopy) or special by X-ray studies (barium enema).

DO ALL POLYPS NEED TO BE TREATED?

As all polyps until examined under a microscope could turn into a cancer, total removal of all polyps is advised. The vast majority of polyps can be removed at colonoscopy using a snare device or destroying them during biopsy with electro-cautery machine.

Some polyps cannot be removed at colonoscopy because of their size or position in these cases surgery may be needed.

DO ALL POLYPS HAVE THE RISK OF TURNING INTO CANCER?

No. Some polyps have no or minimal risk of changing into a cancer.  Regular follow up in these situations may not be needed.  These polyps are often described as hyperplastic polyps.

Many small polyps may resolve by themselves.  However it is impossible to predict this, therefore all polyps are usually removed to allow examination microscopically and prevent growth into a cancer.

The polyps which cause concern and over time can grow larger and change into cancers are called adenomatous polyps.

DO POLYPS COME BACK?

Once a polyp is completely removed, its recurrence is very unusual.

However once the bowel lining has formed one polyp there is a risk that new ones can grow.  A polyp surveillance program is then recommended which involves repeat examinations at intervals of 1 to 5 years depending on the size and number of previous polyps.  A gastroenterologist or colon and rectal surgeon will be able to advise you how often repeat examinations should be done.

If you wish to arrange an appointment with Mr. Rob Church contact your GP.

Or Contact Jacque 0782 6559444

Or the Hospital of your choice:

Spire Hospital Little Aston
Tel: 0121 5807151

Nuffield Hospital Wolverhampton
Tel: 01902 754177