Colon Polyps Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment by Top Rated Doctors at Mercy

Colon polyps can be detected through a regular colon cancer screening. Our gastroenterologists, colorectal surgeons and minimally invasive surgeons are recognized in the Baltimore region for their expertise in removing colon polyps and treating patients with colorectal diseases.

About Colon Polyps

What are Colon Polyps?

Colon polyps are growths in the large intestine, also referred to as the colon. It is unknown what triggers cells to grow abnormally in the colon causing polyps to form. Most colon polyps are not cancerous, or malignant, although some can turn into cancer. Because polyps grow slowly, it is important to have a regular colon cancer screening to detect and remove colon polyps before they develop into colon cancer. Polyps commonly occur in adults who are 45 years or older, overweight, smoke, or have a family history. People with an inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, are at a higher risk for colon polyps to develop.

Can Colon Polyps become cancerous?

Colon cancer often begins as a small benign polyp which grows larger over time and becomes malignant. It is estimated that 1 in 15 people may get colon cancer. If it is found early enough, it is highly curable.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Generally there are no symptoms associated with colon polyps. However, there are certain symptoms that can indicate digestive problems and should not be ignored. It is important to see a doctor specializing in digestive diseases if any of the following occur:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in stool
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea

To diagnose the presence of colon polyps, a colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, or chromoendoscopy can be performed.

Treatment Options for Colon Polyps

It is important to find and completely remove colon polyps. If left in place, they will continue to grow, and over time a small percentage will become malignant. Many polyps are discovered during routine colonoscopy and can be removed at that time.

Some polyps are too large or in an area that is difficult to reach. In these cases an endoscopic mucosal resection, a specialized procedure used to remove large polyps through a colonoscope, may be a treatment option. Other treatment options include minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to remove the polyps or surgery to remove the colon and/or rectum. 

Follow-up care is essential after treatment of colon polyps, colon cancer and diverticulitis. New polyps may form, but cause no symptoms in the beginning. Your doctor can recommend how often you should have physical checkups and colonoscopies.

The Melissa L. Posner Institute for Digestive Health & Liver Disease at Mercy provides diagnosis and treatment for a range of gastroenterology issues including heartburn, liver disease, bowel conditions, motility disorders and pancreatic disease.