What are colonic polyps?Because colon polyps are at risk of degenerating into a cancerous tumor, the therapy consists in the removal of the tumors. Often, this can be done at the first colonoscopy.
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Colonic polyps are polyps of the large intestine (colon). These are structures of the intestinal mucosa. They protrude into the cavity of the intestine. The forms of colonic polyps are different. So there may be a connection between them and the intestinal mucosa or a shaggy form may be present. Sometimes they sit flat on the mucous membrane.
The tissue of the polyps is different. However, most of them are composed of the glandular tissue of the intestinal mucosa. Physicians then refer to the polyps as adenomas, which are basically benign structures. However, they are at risk of degenerating into malignant cancer.
Older people over the age of 70 are particularly affected by colonic polyps. Thus, about 50 percent of them are polyps. In addition to adenomas, there are also other colonic polyps. These are hamartomas, hyperplastic polyps and inflammatory polyps. Unlike the inflammatory and hyperplastic colonic polyps, the adenomatous polyps can degenerate into cancer.
Thus, most colon cancer can be caused by adenomas. Adenomatous polyps are understood as neoplasias of the epithelium. As long as the lamina muscularis mucosae is intact, the adenoma is not classified as malignant. However, if it comes to their breakthrough, there is an invasive colon carcinoma. About 50 percent of all colonic polyps are located in the rectum. The further it goes in the upper direction of the colon, the fewer polyps are found.
Within the mucous membrane of the human gastrointestinal tract there is a constant renewal. This results in the sloughing of old mucosal cells, followed by new cells. The formation of polyps is usually due to a disturbance of this balance. So more cells are formed than old cells can be replaced.
The excess of cells results in their protrusion into the intestinal lumen. Doctors then talk about neoplastic or hyperplastic colonic polyps. Occasionally, excessive cell division is associated with changes in the cells. In some people, the properties of the mucosal cells continue to change, so that over time a colon tumor emerges from the colon polyp that originates from the intestinal wall.
However, in individual cases no prognosis is possible as to whether there is a degeneration of the polyp and at what time this happens. Occasionally, colonic polyps develop from disorders that are already innate. They are already present in large quantities in young people and are often associated with further tissue growth.
An inheritance of intestinal polyps is in the range of the possible. Certain defective genes are passed on to the children, causing the polyps much earlier than usual. At the same time, the risk of colon cancer increases.
Symptoms, complaints & signs
In the initial stage, no colonic polyp complaints are usually noticed. In rare cases, however, bleeding may occur, as evidenced by reddish discoloration of the stool. If the bleeding persists, there is a risk of anemia (anemia).
This can be associated with symptoms such as weakness and dizziness. Slime is also formed by some colonic polyps. This shows the patients a slimy bowel movement. The mucus production leads to a loss of proteins, electrolytes and water. In addition, convulsive abdominal pain and diarrhea show up. Some people also suffer from constipation because of the polyps.
Diagnosis & disease course
If the affected person feels unclear bowel problems, it is advisable to visit a gastroenterologist. The specialist initially deals with the patient's medical history (anamnesis). He is asked whether he has irregular bowel movements, diarrhea or constipation, whether there is blood or mucus in the feces, intestinal diseases in the family exist and whether there has recently been an unwanted weight loss.
Next step is the physical examination. The doctor uses a stethoscope to hear sounds from the gut. He also checks the stomach for any hardening. A representation of the colonic polyps is possible by sonography (ultrasound examination). However, only smaller intestinal sections can be controlled with this.
Therefore, usually a colonoscopy (colonoscopy) takes place. In this procedure, the doctor inserts a special colonoscope equipped with a camera into the intestine and scans it for possible polyps. If a colon polyp is detected, it can be removed immediately and examined in a laboratory.
In about two-thirds of all affected persons, there are no health problems caused by intestinal polyps until the end of life. In rare cases, however, complications such as a dangerous intestinal obstruction occur. Bleeding the polyps can also cause problems.
The colon polyp usually causes complaints in the stomach and intestine. The affected suffer mainly from severe abdominal pain and stomach pain. These can reduce the quality of life and complicate the everyday life of those affected. In general, there is also a reduced resilience and a general feeling of sickness.
Not infrequently, patients also suffer from diarrhea and constipation. The bowel movement itself is slimy and it continues to dizziness and vomiting. In some cases, bleeding also occurs, which can stain red bowel movements. A bloody bowel movement often leads to panic attacks or sweats.
Without treatment, colonic polyps may cause bowel obstruction, which is a very dangerous condition for the person affected. Colonic polyps are usually treated by surgery. There are usually no special complications or complaints. Furthermore, a successful course of treatment also leads to a positive course of the disease. Life expectancy is not reduced when it comes to early diagnosis and treatment of colonic polyps.
When should you go to the doctor?
If reddish discoloration of the stool or unusual weakness and dizziness are noticed, it may well be due to a colon polyp. A doctor's visit is recommended if the symptoms appear to be without cause and persist for more than a few days. If the symptoms greatly affect the well-being, a doctor is consulted at best. This also applies to complications such as constipation or persistent abdominal pain. Also, diarrhea, deficiency symptoms, chronic fatigue and severe pain in the gastrointestinal tract require a medical diagnosis. If the colonic polyp is treated early, the prognosis is good.
Untreated, however, it can cause serious health problems to a bowel failure. To avoid this, the doctor or a gastroenterologist should be consulted at the first sign of illness. People who already have a disease of the gastrointestinal tract should inform the responsible doctor about the unusual symptoms. A colonic polyp can also be inherited, which is why pregnant women, who once had a bowel polyp again, should have the child examined regularly.
Treatment & Therapy
Because colon polyps are at risk of degenerating into a cancerous tumor, the therapy consists in the removal of the tumors. Often, this can be done at the first colonoscopy. If the polyp is very large, it must be removed by surgery.
When the tissue has been successfully surgically removed, a microscopic examination is performed to rule out a malignant disease. In some cases, the colonic polyps grow or re-form elsewhere in the intestine. For this reason, regular check-ups should take place.
Outlook & Forecast
With early diagnosis and initiation of treatment, prognosis is favorable for a colon polyp. The change in the tissue is usually completely removed in a local intervention. It is a routine procedure, in which after the wound healing with a complaint-freedom is to be expected. If the person concerned does not claim medical care, the prospect of recovery worsens considerably.
This type of polyp carries the potential for a mutation. As a result, a cancer can develop. If cancer cells in the organism can spread unhindered, it can come in the worst case, premature death of the person concerned. Therefore, the later a doctor is consulted and diagnosed, the less favorable the course of the disease and the prospect of relieving the symptoms.
Despite a recovery achieved, it may come in the further course of life to a new development of a colonic polyp. The prognosis is unchanged in the case of a re-infestation of the polyp. It should be noted that this disease often occurs in people of advanced age. The organism is already weakened in most cases and the likelihood of other diseases is increased. Therefore, the overall physical condition of the patient must be considered in the treatment.
Meaningful preventive measures against the development of a colonic polyp do not exist. Thus, the exact process of the formation of intestinal polyps has not been found so far.
The colonic polyp as a risk factor for intestinal cancer requires a consistent follow-up. In most cases it will be removed. The follow-up after the short procedure as part of the colonoscopy is straightforward. Only the patient takes care not to immediately burden the intestine after the removal and the clearance control or the removal of the polyp. Avoiding flatulent foods is essential for recovery. A sufficient drinking volume supports the gliding ability of the stool and thus protects the intestine in addition.
If the polyp has not been removed for some reason, regular control is important. The distances are determined by the gastroenterologist or internist who treats the patient. This also applies to cases in which multiple polyps have been removed or a disposition in the family for intestinal polyps is known. Furthermore, the person concerned pays attention to bleeding as part of the aftercare. These should not or only slightly occur after removal of the polyps and are always a reason for consultation with the doctor.
Follow-up of the colonic polyps is closely linked to the prevention of bowel cancer. In addition to regular colonoscopy checks, the fecal occult blood test can also be used, with small caps available at the pharmacy. In addition, abstaining from nicotine and heavy alcohol consumption always makes sense.
You can do that yourself
If a colon polyp is suspected, a doctor should be consulted. Various self-help measures and home remedies support the medical treatment and relieve the symptoms.
For recurrent weakness and dizziness, bed rest is indicated. The person concerned should take precautionary measure and speak again in severe complaints with the doctor. For convulsive abdominal pain or diarrhea, a gentle diet is recommended. Warmth and well-tried home remedies such as herbal tea provide additional relief. Homeopathy recommends Schüßler salts and the preparation Carbo Vegetabilis. Accompanying these measures the cause for the emergence of the intestinal polyps should be determined. Colon polyps are usually based on an unhealthy lifestyle or a previous tumor disease. If the diet is causative, it must be changed in collaboration with a nutritionist.
However, if it is a recurrence of a previous tumor, a more extensive medical examination is required. It is also possible that metastases have formed in other areas of the body that need to be diagnosed and treated. Since colonic polyps can also form recurrences or recur at another point in the intestine, regular check-ups by a specialist are recommended after the initial treatment.