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Colon Cancer Screening

Colon polyps are common. Fortunately, not all colon polyps are worrisome. Only certain types of colon polyps have the potential to become cancerous over time.

Hyperplastic polyps are the most common type of colon polyps and are always benign. They do not have the potential to become cancerous. People who are fund to have only hyperplastic polyps do not need special follow-up.

Adenomatous polyps or adenomas are found in about 30 to 40 percent of adults over age 50. Almost all colon cancers start as adenomatous polyps, but only a small fraction of these polyps ever become cancerous. Once a person develops adenomatous polyps they are at increased risk of developing additional polyps, as well as a slightly increased risk of developing colon cancer.

People who have been diagnosed with adenomatous colon polyps need more frequent and more complete follow-up screening than people who have not had these types of polyps. The exact schedule for follow-up examinations depends on the size and number of adenomatous polyps that were found on your most recent examination. Talk with your doctor about when it makes sense for you to have your next colonoscopy. Keep in mind that most people who have small polyps will not need a follow-up colonoscopy for three to five years.

There are several other uncommon types of colon polyps, including hamartomas, juvenile polyps and inflammatory polyps. Most of these polyps are benign and do not have the potential to become cancerous.

Many people aren't sure what type of polyp they've had. In order to find out this information, you may need to speak with your physician. Some people may have had more than one type of polyp removed. Doctors generally worry only if a person has had one or more adenomatous polyps.

What type of polyps did your test show?

My last screening test showed one or more adenomatous polyps.

My last screening test showed only hyperplastic polyps.

My last screening test showed another type of polyp.

I don't know what type of colon polyps I had.

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