An adenomatous polyp is a growth of tissue in the lining of the colon. One may have one or more colon adenomatous polyps at the same time. However, in the majority of cases, adenomatous colorectal polyps are harmless- but some do become cancerous. While anyone can develop colonic polyps, individual at the highest risk are those who smoke, eat a diet consisting of low fiber and high fat, and are overweight, do not exercise and have a family history of colon cancer.
The majority of adenomatous colorectal polyps do not cause symptoms and most are found accidentally during a colon examination. However, some individual with colon adenomatous polyps may present with blood in the stools, black stools, abdominal cramps, or nausea and vomiting. Because most adenomatous colorectal polyps do not cause symptoms, doctors recommend that individuals over the age of 50 undergo screening test. Colonic polyps are most commonly located on the sigmoid colon or rectum. In general, the larger the size of the polyp the higher the chance that it may be cancerous. Polyps are abnormal growths buy why these polyps occur is not well understood. It is believed that some cells in the lining of the colon undergo mutations that give rise to abnormal growth. There are also several genetic disorders where there are hundreds of polyps and the risk of cancer is extremely high.
Today a variety of tests have been develop to identify colonic polyps. The simplest screening test is to check for blood in the stools. Blood testing kits are available for home use but must be combined with some other test to make them effective. Flexible sigmoidoscopy involves the use of a small-lighted flexible camera to look up the left side of the colon. However, this instrument cannot look at the entire colon. A barium enema is an x ray technique to look for polyps. The test cannot reliably detect polyps less than 1 cm nor can one perform a biopsy with this method. Colonoscopy is the best screening test. However, colonoscopy requires 2 days of preparation and does carry a small risk of perforation-, which usually requires emergent surgery. Other methods of detecting polyps include video capsule endoscopy. This relatively new technique is slightly non-invasive but its useful is still being debated. The latest technique to detect cancer cells is to look for DNA in the stools.
Once an adenomatous polyp is identified during colonoscopy, there are several methods of removal. The polyp can be removed with a snare. There are also special heating devices or forceps that can remove the polyps during colonoscopy. The major risks of removing polyps with colonoscopy include bleeding and bowel perforation. When the polyps are too large or cannot be safely reached, surgery is the next option. surgery involves segmental resection of bowel. all consumers should understand that even if polyps are removed, new polyps can occur later in life. For this reason surveillance is recommended for all individual who have undergone adenomatous polyps removed.