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Polyps

What is a polyp?

A polyp is a growth that protrudes from the lining of the colon (the bowel).

Why is it important to identify and remove polyps?

Polyps are relatively common and most are not malignant (ie cancerous). However, polyps can be cancerous or develop into cancerous polyps, which then leads to colorectal cancer.

What are the symptoms of polyps?

Polyps generally cause no symptoms at all. When they do, this is generally bleeding from the rectum/anus. Polyps are diagnosed during an examination (generally a colonoscopy). As you cannot tell whether a polyp is benign or malignant just by looking at it, polyps are generally removed as a matter of course during a colonoscopy and sent for analysis to determine if they are cancerous or pre-cancerous.

In some cases, a polyp can be too large or unusually shaped to be removed during a colonoscopy (this is more common with polyps affecting the rectum). In these cases, conventional surgery is required to removed them.

If one or more precancerous polyps are discovered during a colonoscopy, regular colonoscopies are generally recommended to monitor any further polyp development.