Information for Patients
A polyp is an extra piece of tissue that grows inside your body. Colonic polyps grow in the large intestine, or colon. Most polyps are not dangerous. However, some polyps may turn into cancer or already be cancer. To be safe, doctors remove polyps and test them. Polyps can be removed when a doctor examines the inside of the large intestine during a colonoscopy.
Anyone can get polyps, but certain people are more likely than others. You may have a greater chance of getting polyps if you
- Are over age 50
- Have had polyps before
- Have a family member with polyps
- Have a family history of colon cancer
Most colon polyps do not cause symptoms. If you have symptoms, they may include blood on your underwear or on toilet paper after a bowel movement, blood in your stool, or constipation or diarrhea lasting more than a week.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Your family history includes health information about you and your close relatives. Families have many factors in common, including their genes, environment, and lifestyle. Looking at these factors can help you figure out whether you have a higher risk for certain health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
Having a family member with a disease raises your risk, but it does not mean that you will definitely get it. Knowing that you are at risk gives you a chance to reduce that risk by following a healthier lifestyle and getting tested as needed.
You can get started by talking to your relatives about their health. Draw a family tree and add the health information. Having copies of medical records and death certificates is also helpful.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention