Are colon polyps common and are they cancerous?

Doctor's Answers (1)

Polyps is a generic term whereby fleshy growth comes out from the inner lining of the intestine. You may subdivide polyps into benign or malignant. When someone uses the term in a layman fashion, it usually means that it is still in the benign stage, but technically speaking, you might have cancerous polyps too.

You might think of polyps as an evolving spectrum. You have got early to middle to late where it's at high risk of transforming into cancer.

Most of the time, polyps can be removed at the time of the colonoscopy unless they have grown extremely large, then sometimes it is not safe to remove it during colonoscopy. In this case, if the math is correct, the father could have gotten colorectal cancer at a very young age, perhaps 40 something. That means he and his other siblings are at high risk of developing polyps and hence cancer.

He would be recommended for a more intensive surveillance programme, which sounds like what he is doing, which is the right thing and if every time he does a colonoscopy and found that there were polyps needed to be removed, then certainly he has done the right thing.

Now, is it normal? I would not say it is completely normal to have polyps but it is common and the rate of a person forming polyps will increase with age, so if you have reached the age of 50-60, I am talking about a regular person and not one that has a family history. 

So by 50-60, if you were to do screening say colonoscopy, there will be at least a 10% chance that you will have polyps, but most probably it will still be at the benign stage and can be removed on the spot.

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