Colorectal polyps are balls of tissue that develop in the lining of the colon (large intestine) and rectum. Many polyps begin non-cancerous (benign), but there is the potential for them to develop into cancer. The chance of developing polyps greatly increases after the age of 50. Therefore, it is important to get routine screening to look for their presence. Although a colonoscopy has been the most common screening test for colon cancer, other screening tests are now also considered options including the high-sensitivity fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) and a sigmoidoscopy. In addition, several other screening tests, including the Colorgard and virtual colonoscopy, are being evaluated to determine their effectiveness at detecting colon cancer. Therefore, if you are over 50 or at an increased risk for colon cancer, it is best to talk with your doctor about the most current screening options available.
Generally, there are no symptoms to indicate the presence of polyps. However, some associated symptoms may include blood in the stool, diarrhea, and constipation. The following factors can increase your chance of developing polyps: increasing age, obesity, consumption of alcohol, tobacco use, and family history of colon cancer. If you or your family member is diagnosed with colorectal polyps, talk to your doctor about the most current treatment options.