A guide to diagnosing, treating, and minimizing the risk of developing colon polyps
Polyps of the colon and rectum are common. However, individuals may not know they have these abnormal clumps of cells. This is because polyps typically do not cause other symptoms unless they are large. Dr Ganesh has advanced training and specialised expertise in performing routine screenings and treating conditions of the colon and rectum as indicated. Due to the nature of polyps, their removal is generally recommended.
A polyp projects from the inner mucosal surface of the bowel wall. It may resemble a small wart or cherry with a short, stalk-like projection (pedicle). They also vary substantially in size, location, and number. It is important to note that most polyps are not cancerous. Pre-cancerous polyps, however, are made of rapidly-dividing cells. Their appearance and behavior are suspicious. Precancerous polyps such as adenomatous polyps grow slowly over a period of 5-10 years to become cancerous. Since there is no way to test and identify if those polyps will become invasive cancers (or adenomas), it is best to remove those polyps. In doing so, it will reduce patients’ risks of developing colorectal cancers.
As noted, polyps may be “silent” and show no symptoms. It is almost always a red flag when the polyps are large (two centimetres in diameter or bigger), bigger polyps may bleed. Most polyps are identified in a screening colonoscopy as part of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.
National bowel cancer screening program.
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in Australia after breast, prostate, and melanoma. The goal of the national bowel screening program is to identify the precancerous polyps on a colonoscopy and perform a polypectomy to remove the polyp and reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer. The small polyps do bleed a tiny amount which is picked up on the bowel screening test or “poo kit”. The general population aged between 50-74 is invited to participate in the program. Dr Ganesh is actively involved in fast-tracking colonoscopies for those who have a positive test on the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. We provide Direct Access to colonoscopies, guaranteeing a colonoscopy within two weeks.
Patients with bleeding and other suspicious bowel symptoms are advised to undergo a colonoscopy. This screening involves using a flexible colonoscope to examine the lining of the colon and rectum. The Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSSANZ) also recommends checking middle-aged individuals (approaching 40 years or older).
Your risk of developing bowel cancer increases if:
● At least one first-degree family member (mum, dad, brother, sister) has had bowel cancer
● A family member has a history of colon polyps
● You have had previously-treated adenomas or cancers
● You have been diagnosed with chronic inflammatory bowel disease; i.e., Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
A colonoscopy is the most accurate way to diagnose polyps, it is estimated that the vast majority of polyps (up to 90%) can be safely and wholly removed simultaneously with the colonoscopy procedure. Colonoscopies allow a clear and detailed view of the entire length of the bowel’s inner surface. It is both a search and removal process for pinpointing and proactively addressing polyps. The polyps can further be evaluated microscopically.
You will receive a follow-up call within 72 hours to ensure you have recovered from the procedure and to ensure a follow-up appointment is booked. In addition to screenings, it is important to maintain a healthy body weight, exercise regularly, reduce red meat intake particularly barbecuing or charcoaling, reduce smoking, and drink alcohol in moderation.