What is a polyp anyway?
A polyp is a mass of tissue that projects into the lumen (or inner canal) of the bowel. They can be small or larger in size; benign or malignant.
What causes polyps?
Although the cause of polyps is uncertain, some studies suggest our diet may have an influence; especially those that are low in fiber, high in red meat, high in animal fat.
What about Genetic influence?
Studies have shown that genetic influence (or “it runs in the family”) might be a minor factor in the cause of polyps. Studies have also shown colon cancer can be influenced by genetics. This fact makes it very important to have your colon examined if colon cancer “runs in your family”.
Why remove polyps?
The greatest concern of NOT removing polyps is their potential to become malignant or cancerous.
How does the doctor remove polyps?
There are several ways to remove a polyp depending on its size and location…
- biopsy: a biopsy is “pinching” off the polyp tissue; this can be done with or without electric cautery.
- snare: a snare is a small wire that is placed around the polyp and electric cautery is used to remove the polyp.
- surgery: occasionally surgery may be indicated to remove a polyp if the polyp is very large or has a broad base, etc.
My polyp is removed, so now what?
All the tissue is sent to the pathologist for study under the microscope. The pathologists results will be sent to your doctor, usually within 7-10 days. Therefore, a follow up appointment is important.
Any time a polyp is removed, there is always the risk some bleeding could occur at the site of the removal. It has been noted this can occur up to two weeks after the polyp is removed. Therefore, it is important to call your doctor if you see any unusual blood in your stool.
Are there any long-range recommendations I should be aware of?
Studies suggest that once you have had a polyp there is a greater likelihood that you will develop more polyps. Your doctor will recommend a schedule of follow-up colonoscopies depending upon the pathology results, your personal history, the location of your polyp, etc.