People sometimes joke that colon polyps are the skin tags of the digestive tract, but, in reality, these seemingly benign growths could pose a real danger to your health: colorectal cancer. Fortunately, here at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants, your gastroenterologist, Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker, routinely screens people over the age of 50 for polyps, removing and analyzing them as necessary to detect dangerous abnormalities.
Exactly what are colon polyps?
Polyps are very small growths on the wall of the large intestine. Either flat or cauliflower-like, polyps typically pose no health threat whatsoever. However, a small number may change into malignancies, which invade the wall of the colon and, if left unchecked, spread cancer cells throughout the body. This is what concerns your Houston gastroenterologist and his professional team.
The American Cancer Society reports that over 44,000 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. All of those cases arise from polyps which have turned malignant. Obviously, then, early detection and removal of all colon polyps is critical to GI health and even survival.
While many colon cancers—and the polyps which create them—present no symptoms until well-advanced, some people do exhibit signs of this potentially deadly disease. Signs may include:
- Blood in the stool
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
The best way to find, remove, and biopsy polyps is through colonoscopy. While a patient is under twilight sedation, the gastroenterologist introduces a thin, lighted tube through the rectum and into the entire length of the large intestine.
This endoscope is lighted, allowing the physician to see and take pictures of the intestinal wall. If a polyp is detected, Dr. Shivshanker removes it for biopsy using a small wire snare that is also introduced through the lighted scope. This tissue then goes to the lab for analysis.
Detection and analysis
They're so important in the fight against colorectal cancer. Fightcoloncancer.org says that a full two-thirds of hyperplastic polyps (also called adenomas) are cancerous. So, if you're approaching your fiftieth birthday or have passed it already, contact our Houston office to schedule a colonoscopy!
Give us a call!
Contact us today to learn more. We have two locations to serve you: for the South Highway location, phone (713) 777-2555, and for the NLoop W office, call (713) 880-8707.