One of the most frightening aspects of aging for most men is colon cancer. This danger often arises when colon polyps grow on the inside of your colon. But are these polyps something you need to be afraid of constantly, or are they relatively safe?
A Vast Majority Of Polyps Are Not Cancerous
If you're worried about colon cancer, you should feel some relief in knowing that cancerous colon polyps are incredibly rare. In fact, it is estimated that less than one-percent of all polyps become cancerous and that removing the polyps decreases the risk even lower.
And that risk nose-dives even further if you take preventative measures such as:
- Quitting smoking
- Taking a multivitamin
- Increasing vitamin D intake
- Taking Aspirin or similar anti-inflammatory drugs
Although these methods are not fool-proof and won't necessarily stop cancer from growing, they are a useful way to help stop polyps from even starting.
However, Polyps Can Turn Cancerous...In Time
The birth of polyps are just as mysterious as what makes them cancerous. In fact, it's found that colon polyps that seem benign for as long as 10 years before becoming cancerous. The only real correlation that has been found is the size of polyps: larger ones are usually more likely to be cancerous or turn cancerous.
And the only way to really tell if a polyp is cancerous is to get it removed and tested for cancer cells. This requires a colonoscopy, a procedure that requires threading a tube into your rectum and up into colon. A camera is mounted at the end of the tube which can detect polyps. Then, surgeons will carefully operate to remove the polyps with a similar surgical tube.
But It's Hard To Know When You Have A Polyp
The main concern you should feel regarding polyps is their relatively invisibility to early detection. Simply put, most early growth polyps aren't likely to cause any symptoms. However, medium-sized polyps and cancerous polyps cause a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Difficulty going to the bathroom
- Bloody stools or changed color
- Vomiting due to an obstruct bowel
- Pain in the abdomen
- Short breath
Although these symptoms may indicate other health problems (such as flu or a pulmonary concern), they will be more persistent and increase in severity if you have a colon polyp. The best way to know is to get tested for one right away.
In spite of these symptoms and the cancer risk posed by polyps, they are a relatively benign problem. They can usually be easily spotted with a regular colonoscopy, such as performed, by Clinical Gastrointestinal Associates, PC. This is a procedure you should start in your mid 40s to early 50s. You won't regret it.