Colon polyps are usually the first sign of colorectal cancer. A polyp is a growth on the inner surface of the colon and often they are non-cancerous, but they can develop into cancer. There are two main types of polyps that are usually found on the colon and rectum: hyperplastic and inflammatory polyps and adenomatous polyps.
Hyperplastic and inflammatory polyps usually do not carry a risk of developing into cancer. However, if the hyperplastic polyps is exceptionally large and located on the right side of the colon, it is at great risk of worsening and should be completely removed.
Adenomatous polyps are more likely to turn into colon cancer if they are not properly treated. Adenomatous polyps are considered pre-cancerous.
Colorectal cancer may develop from areas of abnormal cells in the lining of the colon, called dysplasia, although this is more common in people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Colorectal cancer can also be caused by a family history of the cancer or polyps, a diet high in red and processed meats, obesity, smoking, heavy alcohol use, type 2 diabetes, and physical inactivity. It is more common in people over the age of 50.
Because colorectal cancer rarely comes with any symptoms, it is imperative that you have regular screenings for it. Some mild and occasional symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, anemia, abdominal discomfort, unexplained weight loss, and blood on or in the stool. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms for an extended period of time, you should discuss them with Dr. Saracino to determine if you need a colonoscopy and possible treatment.