Colon polyp treatment
It is important that you follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment of colon polyps. Most often, treatment will include removal of a colon polyp(s) to prevent cancer. Additionally, regular exams by a physician specially trained to treat diseases of the colon and rectum are an essential part of monitoring colon health.
You can greatly reduce your risk of colon polyps and colorectal cancer by making certain changes in your diet. Including plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in daily intake may cut your risk of developing colon polyps. Especially favor deep green and dark yellow or orange fruits and vegetables. Avoid or limit saturated fats (red meat, processed meat, milk, oils) and restrict total fat intake to less than 35 percent of daily calories, with no more than 10 percent coming from saturated fats. Curbing alcohol consumption can reduce risks, even if colon cancer runs in your family. Finally, be sure to get enough calcium, which can significantly protect against colon polyps and cancers. Other tips follow:
Reducing the risk for colon polyps and colon cancer may require a total lifestyle adjustment.
If you're a woman past menopause, hormone therapy may reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. But not all effects of this treatment option are positive. Combination therapies such as estrogen plus progestin can actually increase risk of developing breast cancer, dementia, heart disease, stroke and blood clots, so this type of treatment is not usually used to prevent colon polyps.
Talk to your doctor about aspirin. Studies on the role of aspirin in polyp and cancer prevention are mixed. However, taking a low dose of aspirin every day might help prevent polyps. Some studies show that regular aspirin use can reduce risk of developing colon polyps, but others show no benefit. Be aware also that aspirin use can increase risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.
Polyps should be removed when they are found. Removing polyps is usually simple. Although some types of colon polyps are far more likely to become malignant than are others, a pathologist usually must examine polyp tissue under a microscope to determine whether it's potentially cancerous. For that reason, your doctor is likely to remove all polyps discovered during a bowel examination.
Once the section of your colon that contains the polyp is removed, the polyp can't recur, but there is a moderate chance that new polyps may develop in other areas of the colon in the future. For that reason, follow-up care is extremely important and the doctor will request regular testing in the future. The following procedures outline different types of polyp removal procedures.
Colectomy - Removal of part or all of the colon is called a colon resection or colectomy.
Colon and rectum removal - This procedure is recommended in cases of rare, inherited syndromes to remove the entire colon and rectum (total proctocolectomy). Then, a pouch is constructed from the end of the small intestine (ileum) that attaches directly to the anus to allow for bowel movements.
Colonoscopy - The great majority of polyps can be removed during colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy by snaring them with a wire loop that simultaneously cuts the stalk of the polyp and cauterizes it to prevent bleeding. Some small polyps may be cauterized or burned with an electrical current. Removed polyps are then tested for cancer.
Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) - EMR is used to remove larger polyps with a colonoscope. During this procedure a liquid, such as saline, is injected under the polyp to elevate and isolate the polyp from surrounding tissue. This makes it easier to remove a larger polyp.
Lapascopic techniques - Polyps that are too large to snare or that can't be reached safely are usually surgically removed. During laparoscopy, a thin tube with a light and tiny camera is inserted through a cut in the abdomen. The scope is used to look at your colon or rectum and to guide other tools to remove the polyp.
Laparatomy – If a polyp cannot be removed by colonoscopy, a laparotomy uses a cut in the abdomen to remove the part of the colon that contains the polyp. Malignant (cancerous) polyps are removed with a section of the tissue around them.
Proctectomy – During a proctectomy, the rectum is removed.
Polypectomy – This procedure refers to polyp removal and may include risks such as bleeding and perforation of the colon.
If you're at high risk of developing colon polyps, consider your options. For example, if you have a family history related to colon disease, consider genetic counseling. And if you've been diagnosed with colon polyps, start having regular colonoscopy tests and discuss diagnosis and treatment options regularly with your doctor. Finally, be sure to ask your doctor how often you should monitor your colon health. Occult blood tests, sigmoidoscopies, and/or colonoscopies may be performed regularly.
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