What are Polyps?

Polyps are abnormal growths of tissue that develop along the inner lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Polyps are usually flat (although some may have a stalk). Most polyps will not become cancerous; however certain types of polyps are precursors of cancer development.

What are the Risk Factors for Polyps? 

Certain risk factors that may contribute to polyps include:

  • Most polyps occur in patients 50 and older
  • Family history. Polyps are more likely to develop if a parent, sibling, or child has a history of polyps
  • Hereditary disorders. In rare cases, a patient may inherit a genetic mutation that causes polyps to form at a rapid rate. Some of these hereditary disorders include familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), Gardner’s syndrome, and Lynch syndrome
  • Lifestyle and diet. These types of risk factors may include alcohol consumption, a high-fat diet, low fiber intake, obesity, and smoking
  • Other existing gastrointestinal conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • African Americans are at higher risk for colon cancer and polyps

What are the Symptoms of Polyps? 

While most polyps do not present with any signs of discomfort, some patients may experience symptoms, such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody stool
  • Bowel infrequency
  • Excess mucus production

Less common symptoms include iron deficiency anemia and fatigue.

How are Polyps Diagnosed?

The most common method for preventing and detecting polyps is a colonoscopy. During this procedure, the colon will be examined by a medical professional using a long, lighted instrument called a colonoscope. When polyps are discovered, they are removed for biopsy right away via polypectomy. In some cases, polyps may be too large to remove during a single procedure, so multiple colonoscopies or surgeries may be necessary.

How are Polyps Prevented? 

Lifestyle and diet changes may decrease your chances of developing polyps. Eat a low-fat diet, avoid smoking, and limit alcohol consumption. In addition, exercise and eat calcium rich foods.

As an aside, it is recommended that both men and women begin screening for polyps at age 50 since symptoms do not always present.

Detection of Polyps in NJ from DHC

Since certain types of polyps can develop into cancer over time, it is extremely important to stay up to date on your colorectal cancer screening so polyps can be removed in their early stages. Colonoscopy is the gold standard of screening, and your physician at DHC will discuss with you how often you should be screened. We are proud to help those in NJ stay on top of their digestive health by providing a wide range of services and procedures with each patient’s needs in mind. Please contact us today to request an appointment and get on track to better gastrointestinal health.

Digestive Health Care and Treatment in New Jersey

We meet with patients at our three office locations in Hillsborough, Somerville, and Warren, NJ, as well as from the comfort of your home via telemedicine virtual visits. We will gladly answer any questions you may have throughout your entire care journey with us, so you understand the “why” behind all decisions made for your health.