Treatment

Your doctor is likely to remove all polyps discovered during a bowel examination. The options for removal include:

  • Removal with forceps or a wire loop (polypectomy). If a polyp is larger than 0.4 inches (about 1 centimeter), a liquid may be injected under it to lift and isolate the polyp from surrounding tissue so that it can be removed.
  • Minimally invasive surgery. Polyps that are too large or that can't be removed safely during screening are usually removed laparoscopically, which is performed by inserting an instrument called a laparoscope into the bowel.
  • Colon and rectum removal. If you have a rare inherited syndrome, such as FAP, you may need surgery to remove your colon and rectum (total proctocolectomy).

Some types of colon polyp are far likelier to become malignant than are others. But a doctor who specializes in analyzing tissue samples (pathologist) usually must examine polyp tissue under a microscope to determine whether it's potentially cancerous.

Follow-up care

If you have had an adenomatous polyp or a serrated polyp, you are at increased risk of colon cancer. The level of risk depends on the size, number and characteristics of the adenomatous polyps that were removed.

You'll need follow-up screenings for polyps. Your doctor is likely to recommend a colonoscopy:

  • In five to 10 years if you had only one or two small adenomas
  • In three years if you had more than two adenomas, adenomas measuring 0.4 inches (about 1 centimeter) or larger, or certain adenomas
  • Within three years if you had more than 10 adenomas
  • Within six months if you had a very large adenoma or an adenoma that had to be removed in pieces

It's important to fully prepare your colon before a colonoscopy. If stool remains in the colon and obstructs your doctor's view of the colon wall, you will likely need a follow-up colonoscopy sooner than the guidelines specify.