We will say this first, and we will say it loudly and clearly. Regular colorectal screening is one the most powerful tools against colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that during 2022 there will be 52,580 deaths due to colorectal cancer. Don’t become one of them.
In conjunction with colorectal screening, here are two important questions: how long does it take colon polyps to develop into cancer? Why is this important?
Types Of Polyps
A polyp is a lump in the inner lining of the colon. A healthy colon will replace old cells and grow new ones. The older cells are sloughed off and usually go into stool, but if something interferes with this process, an abnormal group of cells can develop into a polyp. Having a polyp does not mean you will get cancer.
There are two types:
- Hyperplastic polyps are small and usually harmless.
- Adenomatous polyps can develop abnormalities and have the potential to become cancerous. They can grow quickly and spread. With enough time this kind of polyp will spread into the surrounding tissue and enter the bloodstream and lymph nodes. Having this type of polyp does not mean it will become cancerous.
During a colon screening all polyps are removed and examined. Removing all polyps makes it impossible for them to eventually become cancerous.
How Long Does It Take A Polyp To Become Cancerous?
Most polyps grow slowly and take from between 10 and 15 years to become cancerous.
Due to this general time frame, most screenings are scheduled every 10 years which gives Colorectal Surgical Associates time to remove any polyps before they become cancerous. That is why it’s imperative that you follow the screening schedule.
If someone has higher than normal risk factors like hereditary colon cancer, they will most likely be advised to have screenings more frequently than every 10 years.
It is advised you to get your first screening at age 45 unless you have many risk factors.
Don’t Put Off Your Colonoscopy
Regular colorectal screenings give you the best chance of finding polyps and removing them before they have the chance to turn into cancer.