Polyps are small clusters of cells that tend to grow in places like the uterine lining, the nasal cavity, and the colon. Although polyps are often benign (non-cancerous), some types of polyps can eventually develop into colon cancer. Dr. Krishnamurthy Shivshanker, a gastroenterologist at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants, advises adults to become familiar with their individual risk of developing colon cancer and to begin regular colonoscopy screenings at the appropriate age.
Colonoscopy and Polyp Removal in Houston, TX
In many cases, people with colon polyps don't know they have them because they often don't produce noticeable symptoms. When they do produce symptoms they include:
- Unexplained changes in bowel movements
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Blood in stool/rectal bleeding
Symptoms like blood in your stool or changes in things like the consistency and color of your bowel movements can be a sign of a number of different things, from polyps to colon cancer in extreme cases. Hemorrhoids can also bleed during or after a bowel movement. Schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist if you notice blood in your stool or significant changes in your bowel movements or pain and cramping that aren't related to diet, or that persist or clear up and then return.
Colon Polyp Screening and Treatment
For most healthy adults, the recommended age to get a colonoscopy is 50, however people with higher risk factors for colon cancer such as family history or a history of polyps may need to start screening much earlier.
The most common screening methods for polyps include:
- Standard colonoscopy
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Stool-based testing
Polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy or through minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery.
Find a Gastroenterologist in Houston, TX
For more information on how to determine your individual colon cancer risk and when you get a colonoscopy screening, contact Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants by calling (713) 777-2555 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shivshanker today.