Finding out that you have colon polyps may be frightening, but it doesn’t have to be.
Some types of polyps that aren’t cancerous and others are more likely to develop into cancer. When visiting La Peer’s Colonoscopy Center of Excellence, not only will we perform your colonoscopy, but also our doctors will provide you detailed information on your results. Our goal is to make sure our patients are well informed and receive the follow-up treatment necessary to live a healthy life.
When having a routine colonoscopy, a doctor typically looks for polyps and other abnormalities in the colon. A colon polyp is a growth in the inside lining of the colon. Most times, doctors can remove these precancerous lesions safely at the time of a colonoscopy. Once the polyp is removed it is sent to pathology to determine what type of polyp it is. However, there are some important things you should know about colon polyps, in the event that they are identified during your cancer screening.
What Do I Need to Know About Colon Polyps?
If you have a colonoscopy and are told that you have a polyp(s), it is important to know:
- What type of polyps you have
- How many polyps you have
- The size of the polyps
Polyps come in different shapes and sizes. Some are:
- Raised on stems like mushrooms (pedunculated)
- Found on the surface of the colon, like a mushroom without a stalk (sessile)
- Found flat on the surface of the colon (flat)
When a doctor removes a polyp during a colonoscopy, he or she sends it to a pathologist for examination under a microscope. The pathologist determines if the polyp is a:
- Hyperplastic polyp, which is not cancer
- Adenomatous polyp, which is not cancer but can become cancer if it’s not removed (also in this category are sessile serrated adenomas)
- Malignant polyp, which is cancer
- Other types of polyps do exist but are much rarer and beyond the scope of this discussion (i.e. lipomas, hamartomas, juvenile polyps, inflammatory polyps, pseudopolyps)
Individuals can get a copy of their last colonoscopy report by calling the clinic or doctor who performed that colonoscopy. Ask for both the colonoscopy and pathology reports. These reports will indicate the type, number and size of polyps the doctor found.
How to Retrieve Your Colon Polyp History
Your current health care provider will need to know about the findings of all your colonoscopies, but most importantly your latest one. It will provide them the information necessary to give you the best care possible. If you do not know your polyp history, you can collect the information by doing the following:
- Talk to the doctor who ordered your last colonoscopy
- Talk to the doctor who performed your last colonoscopy
- Talk with the clinic where the colonoscopy was performed.
One of the above providers will have the report in your patient records, so that your doctor can make a recommendation on when you should have your next colonoscopy. Your family history and other parts of your medical history are also taken into account when making this recommendation. If your last colon prep was not adequate (i.e. your last doctor could not see everything in your colon thereby increasing the chances that a small polyp may have been missed), the interval to your next colonoscopy may need to be shortened.
The Importance of Your Polyp History and Future Screening
Your polyp history determines your screening schedule for colon cancer. People should share this information with their doctor at their next check-up. The doctor uses this information to determine if a person’s chances of getting colon cancer are higher than normal. This information also tells the doctor when and how often a person should get a colonoscopy.
To Schedule Your Colonoscopy
If it’s time for another colonoscopy or you need to know more information about a recent colonoscopy, contact our Los Angeles office at (888) 837-0459.