What are rectal polyps?
A rectal polyp is a small clump of cells that forms on the lining of the colon. Most colon polyps are harmless. But over time, some colon polyps can develop into colon cancer, which is often fatal when found in its later stages. Polyps may be sessile or pedunculated and vary considerably in size. Incidence of polyps ranges from 7% to 50%; the higher figure includes very small polyps (usually hyperplastic polyps or adenomas) found at autopsy. Polyps, often multiple, occur most commonly in the rectum.
How common are rectal polyps?
Anyone can develop colon polyps. You have higher risk if you are over 50, or overweight or a smoker, or have a personal or family history of colon polyps or colon cancer.
However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of rectal polyps?
In most cases, rectal polyps do not bring about symptoms and are usually detected on routine colon cancer screening exams. However, if you do experience symptoms, they may include:
- Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding
- Pain, diarrhea, or constipation that lasts longer than one week
- Nausea or vomiting if you have a large polyp
Blood on your toilet tissue or blood streaked stools can be an indication of rectal bleeding and should be evaluated by your doctor.
It is essential to have regular screening tests to detect any existing polyps. When colonic polyps are found in the early stages, they can often be removed safely and completely during a colonoscopy. Removing polyps may reduce your risk of developing colon cancer.
When should I see my doctor?
Early diagnosis and treatment can stop rectal polyps from worsening and prevent another medical emergency, so talk to your doctor as soon as possible to prevent this serious condition.
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes rectal polyps?
Doctors still don’t know exactly what cause of rectal polyps, but polyps may result from abnormal tissue growth. Healthy cells grow and divide in an orderly way. Mutations in certain genes can bring about cells to continue dividing even when new cells aren’t needed. In the colon and rectum, this unregulated growth can cause polyps to form. Polyps can develop anywhere in your large intestine, especially rectum. In general, the larger a polyp gets, the greater the likelihood of cancer is.
What increases my risk for rectal polyps?
Factors that may play a role to the formation of rectal polyps or cancer include:
- Age: Most people with colon polyps are 50 or older.
- Inflammatory intestinal conditions: Such as ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease
- Family history: You are more likely to get colon polyps or cancer if you have a parent, sibling or child with them. If many family members have them, your risk is even higher. However, in some people, this connection isn’t hereditary.
- Tobacco and alcohol use
- Obesity and lack of exercise
- Race: African-Americans are at higher risk of developing colon cancer.
- Type 2 diabetes that isn’t well-controlled
Diagnosis & Treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is rectal polyps diagnosed?
Screening tests play a key role in detecting polyps before they become cancerous. These tests can also help find colorectal cancer in its early stages, when you have a good chance of recovery.
Screening methods include:
- Colonoscopy: It is considered as the most sensitive test for rectal polyps and cancer. If polyps are detected, your doctor may remove them at once or take tissue samples (biopsies) for analysis.
- Virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography): This is a minimally invasive test that uses a CT scan to view your colon. Virtual colonoscopy needs the same bowel preparation as colonoscopy. If a polyp is found, you will need colonoscopy to have it removed.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy: In this one, a slender lighted tube is inserted in your rectum to examine it and the last third of your colon (sigmoid). If a polyp is detected, you will need colonoscopy to have it removed.
- Stool test: Your doctor will give you a test kit and instructions for providing a stool sample. You will return the sample to your doctor’s office for analysis, especially to test for microscopic bleeding. This test will show if you have blood in your stool, which can be a sign of a polyp.
How is rectal polyps treated?
It is believed that the best way to treat rectal polyps is to remove them. Your doctor will likely remove your polyps during a colonoscopy. The polyps are then examined under the microscope to see what type of polyp it is and if there are any cancer cells present. Doctors can usually get rid of polyps without performing surgery.
However, you may need surgery to remove the polyps if they are large enough and can’t be removed during a colonoscopy. In most cases, this can be done by laparoscopic surgery. This type of surgery is minimally invasive and uses an instrument called a laparoscope, which is a long, thin tube with a high-intensity light and a high-resolution camera at the front. The instrument is inserted through an incision in the abdomen. Once your surgeon has a visual of your colon, they’ll remove the polyps using a special tool.
A pathologist, or someone who specializes in tissue analysis, will check the polyps for cancerous cells.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage rectal polyps?
It is considered that there are some home remedies to prevent this condition.
- Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Reduce your fat intake.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Don’t use tobacco.
- Stay physically active and maintain a healthy body weight
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Rectal polyps. http://www.webmd.com/colorectal-cancer/tc/colon-polyps-topic-overview#1. Accessed 26 Feb 2017.
Rectal polyps. http://www.healthline.com/health/colorectal-polyps#Treatment6. Accessed 26 Feb 2017.
Rectal polyps. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colon-polyps/basics/prevention/con-20031957. Accessed 26 Feb 2017.
Review Date: February 26, 2017 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019