Center for Digestive Diseases

UNM Hospitals Center
for Digestive Diseases

1001 Martin Luther King Ave. NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106

(505)272-2530 or

UNMH: (505)272-6839
CDD: (505)925-7849

Colon Polyps

 What are colon polyps?

Colon polyps are benign growths of tissue in the lining of the colon (large intestine).  However, if left in place colon polyps can progress to become cancer. Polyps vary in size from a few millimeters to several inches in size. Colon polyps can be raised or subtle flat lesions. Polyps can be removed during colonoscopy.

What are the symptoms of colon polyps?

Most of the time colon polyps have no associated symptoms.  This is why screening for colon polyps and colon cancer is important.  Occasionally polyps can cause rectal bleeding or anemia.  Rarely polyps grow large and cause abdominal pain or change in bowel habits such as colon obstruction or constipation.

What causes colon polyps?

Colon polyps become more frequent as you age.  Conditions associated with polyps include:  obesity, cigarette smoking, alcohol use, consumption of fatty foods, lack of exercise.  Some people have a genetic predisposition to develop colon polyps. 

How are colon polyps diagnosed?

Polyps are usually detected during colonoscopy.  Colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure that allows your doctor to examine the lining of your colon (large intestine) for abnormalities by inserting a thin flexible tube with a light and camera into your rectum.  Other tests that can detect colon polyps include flexible sigmoidoscopy, barium enema and CT colonography.  Stool cards that detect microscopic blood in the stool may also alert your doctor to recommend colonoscopy to search for colon polyps.

What is the treatment for colon polyps?

Colon polyps are usually removed at the time of your colonoscopy.  Your doctor may remove tiny polyps using a biopsy forceps through the colonoscope.  Larger polyps are removed using wire loops called “snares” passed through the colonoscope.  This technique is called “snare polypectomy” and it uses an electrical current passed through the wire to remove the polyp. There are no nerve endings in the lining of the colon and therefore, you will not feel pain during biopsy or polypectomy.

Dedicated Specialists in this area:

Dr. Joseph Alcorn
Dr. Sanjeev Arora
Dr. Michael Gavin
Dr. Michael Gilles
Dr. Martin Kistin
Dr. Thomas Ma
Dr. Gulshan Parasher
Dr. Arun Pillai
Dr. Eric Stone
Dr. Trent Taylor

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