Symptoms of colon polyps
Colon polyps range from smaller than a pea to golf ball sized. Small polyps aren't likely to cause problems. In fact, most polyps produce no symptoms and often are found incidentally during endoscopy or x-ray of the bowel. Some polyps, however, can produce bleeding, mucous discharge, alteration in bowel function, or in rare cases, abdominal pain. In some cases colon polyps may cause changes in bowel movements such as:
Although a change in bowel habits that lasts longer than a week may indicate the presence of a large colon polyp, it can also result from a number of other conditions. Additionally, a change in color doesn't always indicate a problem. Iron supplements and some anti-diarrhea medications can make stools black, whereas beets and red licorice can turn stools red. Other signs and symptoms of colon polyps include:
Anemia – A deficiency of red blood cells can indicate the presence of a colon polyp(s).
Bloating – Bloating that lasts over a period of time may indicate the presence of colon polyps.
Rectal bleeding - Although this may be a sign of colon polyps or colon cancer, rectal bleeding can indicate other conditions, such as hemorrhoids or minor tears (fissures) in the anus.
Pain or obstruction - Sometimes a large colon polyp may partially obstruct your bowel, leading to crampy abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and severe constipation.
The earlier polyps are removed, the less likely it is that they will become malignant. Some polyps may become cancerous (malignant), meaning that colon cancer can develop. If cancerous polyps are not treated, they can be life threatening. New polyps may form. Because of their potential for malignancy, doctors recommend a colonoscopy 1 to 5 years after polyp removal and repeat exams as necessary.
Sometimes polyps can provoke the inward folding (invagination) of the intestines. Additionally, another possible complication includes polyp torsion, which can cause abdominal pain and bleeding.
When to seek help
If you manifest any of the symptoms listed above, schedule a visit to the doctor’s office to identify possible problems. Early detection of colon polyps is important for proper treatment. Be sure to see your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms.
In addition, talk with your doctor about colon polyps testing if someone in your family has had polyps or colon cancer. You should be screened regularly for polyps if:
How do doctors confirm a colon polyps diagnosis? To learn more about what tests, exams and procedures to anticipate read more. We cover the most frequently used colon polyps tests and how to screen for colon polyp precancerous in the next section.
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