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Colon Polyps

What are colon polyps?

Colon polyps are growths on the inside surface of the colon, which is part of the large intestine. Some types of polyps are benign, which means they are not cancerous. But some types of polyps are cancerous or can become cancerous.

Who gets colon polyps?

Anyone can get polyps, but you may be more likely to get them if

  • you’re 50 years of age or older
  • you’ve had polyps before
  • someone in your family has had polyps or colon cancer
  • you’ve had uterine or ovarian cancer before age 50
  • you eat a lot of fatty foods
  • you smoke or drink alcohol
  • you don’t exercise
  • you’re overweight

How will I know if I have colon polyps?

Your doctor will perform certain tests to find out if you have colon polyps. You may not know you have polyps until your doctor checks for them. Most people with colon polyps don’t have symptoms.

But some people do have symptoms, such as

  • bleeding from the anus, which can leave blood on underwear or toilet paper
  • constipation or diarrhea that lasts more than a week
  • blood in the stool, which can show up as red streaks in the stool or make stool appear black

Should I be tested for colon polyps?

Talk with your doctor about getting tested for polyps if

  • you have symptoms
  • you’re 50 years of age or older
  • someone in your family has had polyps or colon cancer

How are colon polyps treated?

Doctors can usually remove polyps during a colonoscopy—the procedure used to check for colon polyps. The polyps are then tested for cancer.

If you’ve had colon polyps, your doctor will want you to get tested regularly.

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