Indy Gastro | Colonoscopy, rectal bleeding, diarrhea, constipation, endoscopy

Prevention of Colon Polyps and Colorectal Cancer

Definition

Polyps are an overgrowth of tissue lining the inner wall of the colon. These may be mushroom shaped (pendunculated) or flat (sessile). Small polyps are usually harmless but may contain abnormal cells that have the potential to grow and become cancerous. The larger the polyp the greater the risk of malignancy (Cancer).

Causes and Risks

Since the cause of Colon Polyps is probably multiple, it is difficult to know how to prevent them. The following individuals are at a greater risk to develop polyps. If you are age 40 or older. If you have a first degree relative that has a history of colon polyps or colon cancer.

Prevention

  1. Diet
    1. Vegetables and Fruit: Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables can decrease risk of polyps.
    2. Meats and saturated fats: Eating less fat and fatty foods can decrease risk for polyps.
    3. Fiber: Increasing fiber intake can help decrease risk of getting polyps.
    4. Calcium: Eating more calcium may also lower your risk of getting polyps. Some foods that are rich in calcium are milk, cheese, yogurt, and broccoli.
    5. Aspirin: Taking a low dose of aspirin every day might help prevent polyps. Talk with your doctor before starting any medication.
  2. Other Factors
    1. Cigarette Smoking: Smoking should be stopped to decrease risk of polyps and other health conditions. 
    2. Leisure Time Activities: You should exercise most days of the week and stay active to help prevent polyps.

Summary

Genes: You are at increased risk to develop polyps if you have had a first degree relative that has had a history of polyps or colon cancer.

Surveillance: Depending on your risk factors you will be asked to have testing or procedures done at certain times. This is to make sure you do not develop polyps that could be a threat to you health in the long run.

Remove polyps when found: Most polyps can be removed safely by colonoscopy before they become cancers. This exam can detect up to 97% of all polyps and cancers. After thorough cleansing of the colon, an outpatient exam is preformed with medication to make you sleepy and ease abdominal discomfort. A flexible, lighted tube (endoscope) with a camera allows the physician to view the colon on a video screen. Polyps may be removed by a wire snare placed tightly around the base. Cautery is used as the polyp is cut off to prevent bleeding. All tissue retrieved is sent to the lab, for examination and to determine proper follow-up.

Calcium: Eating more calcium may also lower your risk of getting polyps. Some foods that are rich in calcium are milk, cheese, yogurt, and broccoli.

Aspirin: Taking a low dose of aspirin every day might help prevent polyps. Talk with your doctor before starting any medication.

Active lifestyle: You may also be more likely to get colon polyps if you smoke, smoke, drink alcohol, don’t exercise or weigh too much

Smoking: Smoking and tobacco use can increase risk of polyps.  Tobacco use should be stopped to help decrease risk of abnormal cell growth in stomach and other organs.

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