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What It Means When Your Colonoscopy Reveals Polyps

What It Means When Your Colonoscopy Reveals Polyps

Perhaps you’ve taken a very important step toward safeguarding your health and undergone a colonoscopy with us. While you’re relieved to put that screening in your rearview mirror, you’re concerned about the fact that we found, and removed, one or more polyps.

Or maybe you haven’t gone through a colonoscopy yet, and you want to learn what you can about the process.

In either case, our team of dedicated surgeons at Rockwall Surgical Specialists is using this month’s blog to focus on what happens when we find colon polyps during your colonoscopy and what that means moving forward.

Colonoscopy — an invaluable preventive tool

Each year in the United States, doctors perform about 15 million colonoscopies — and these numbers are much higher than in decades past. Thanks to this increase in screening for colorectal cancers, rates of these cancers have gone down since the 1980s.

Today, just more than 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancers are diagnosed each year in the US.

Not only have the number of diagnoses gone down, but survival rates have increased, too, because we’re able to spot these cancers in their earliest, even precancerous, stages with a colonoscopy. This early stage mostly comes in the form of colon polyps.

So, a colonoscopy goes far beyond a screening tool and acts as a preventive tool as we remove any polyps we find during your colonoscopy and investigate them further.

What colon polyps are, and what they aren’t

In the simplest of terms, a colon polyp is a growth in the lining of your lower intestine or rectum. About 40% of people over age 50 have polyps, which means these growths are quite common.

A person can have more than one polyp, and they can range in size from a quarter-inch to several inches in diameter.

The risk factors for colon polyps include:

In most cases, we remove any polyps we find during your colonoscopy so we can investigate the growths further in the lab. A majority of colon polyps are benign, but some may be neoplastic, which means they can potentially become cancerous. 

Again, we check for precancerous or cancerous cells from the tissues that we remove from your colon. If we find that the polyps are completely benign, the good news is that they’re no longer in your colon and you won’t have to be rescreened for another 5-10 years.

If we find the presence of abnormal cells, we work with your primary care provider on next steps — which might just be more frequent screening. If we find cancer, these findings allow you to take prompt action to treat the cancer, which might include returning to us for colon surgery.

Of course, we go over our colonoscopy findings with you in detail and answer any questions you might have when we deliver your results.

If you have more questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact us at one of our Texas locations in Rockwall, Rowlett, Greenville, Terrell, or Forney. 

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