What Happens If A Colon Polyp Is Cancerous?

During a colonoscopy all polyps are removed regardless of their size or how they look. Only then can they be evaluated for any problems. In most cases they are benign, but only by testing them can your physician determine if they are harmless, in the pre-cancerous state, or malignant. What happens if a colon polyp is cancerous?

Some Facts About Colon Polyps

Illustration of colon polyps versus a healthy colon

  • The chances of a polyp turning cancerous depends on the type of polyp.
  • A hyper-plastic or inflammatory type is more common, but not pre-cancerous unless it is large.
  • Adenomas are a type of polyp that can change into cancer and are known as precancerous.
  • An SSP or sessile serrated polyp is one which has a higher risk of becoming cancerous, and more screening tests may be indicated.
  • Those at high risk for cancerous polyps are those over age 50. The same is true if you smoke, are overweight, or if you have a personal or family history of cancerous polyps.
  • Dysplasia is an area where cells look abnormal and are considered precancerous. If dysplasia is seen in a polyp or in the lining of the colon or rectum after removal, the abnormality may or may not be cancerous.
  • Risk for cancer is higher for those with more than 3 polyps or polyps larger than 1 cm.
  • It takes 10 years for a polyp to become cancerous

The Biopsy Process

Once polyps are removed they are sent to a lab for analysis. Most biopsies are normal, but if you had one polyp, you are more at risk for others. In this case, Colorectal Surgical Associates may move up your next screening.

If the entire polyp was removed, you may not need any additional treatment. If the excision did not get all of the polyp/cells, you may need a surgical procedure to remove all the nearby cells and tissue found around the polyp.

If a polyp has cancerous cells, they will also biopsy nearby lymph nodes to determine if the cancer has spread or metastasized to other areas of the body. In this case radiation, chemotherapy or other therapies may be recommended.

Colonoscopy screenings can be life saving!

Contact Colorectal Surgical Associates at (816) 941-0800 to schedule a colonoscopy for you or a member of your family.