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Colorectal Polyps

AMBULATORY CARE:

Colorectal polyps

are small growths of tissue in the lining of the colon and rectum. Most polyps are usually benign (not cancer). Certain types of polyps, called adenomatous polyps, may turn into cancer.

Colon Polyps

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Blood in your bowel movement or bleeding from the rectum
  • Change in bowel movement habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have sudden shortness of breath.
  • You have a fast heart rate, fast breathing, or are too dizzy to stand up.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe abdominal pain.
  • You see blood in your bowel movement.

Call your doctor or gastroenterologist if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.
  • You have abdominal pain that does not go away or gets worse after you take medicine.
  • Your abdomen is swollen.
  • You are losing weight without trying.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment

may not be needed if the polyp is small and benign. Your healthcare provider will check the polyp over time to make sure it is not changing. Polyps that are cancer may be removed with one of the following:

  • A polypectomy is a minimally invasive procedure to remove a polyp during a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. Your healthcare provider may need to remove the polyp with a laparoscope. Laparoscopy is done by inserting a small, flexible scope into incisions made on your abdomen.
  • Surgery may be needed to remove large or deep polyps that cannot be removed in a polypectomy. Tissues or lymph nodes near a polyp may also be removed. This helps stop cancer from spreading.

Lower your risk for colorectal polyps:

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
    Healthy Foods
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider what a healthy weight is for you. Ask him or her to help you with a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Exercise as directed. Begin to exercise slowly and do more as you get stronger. Talk with your healthcare provider before you start an exercise program.
    Diverse Family Walking for Exercise
  • Limit alcohol. Your risk for polyps increases the more you drink.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars increase your risk for polyps. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

Follow up with your doctor or gastroenterologist as directed:

You may need to return for more tests, such as another colonoscopy. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Colorectal Polyps (Ambulatory Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.