What is colon adenoma?

An adenoma is a type of polyp, or unusual growth of cells that form a small clump. A colon adenoma forms in the lining of your colon. While most of them are benign, or not dangerous, up to 10 percent of colon adenomas can turn into cancer. That’s why it is important to find it early and get treatment.

Colorectal Cancer

Causes of colon adenoma

No specific cause is known for colon adenoma, but certain factors increase your risk.

Risk factors for colon adenoma

Some things that might put you at greater risk for colon adenoma are:

  • Obesity
  • Use of tobacco
  • Use of alcohol
  • Lack of exercise
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Being over the age of 50
  • High-fat, low-fiber diets
  • Family history of colon cancer or polyps
  • A history of colon conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

Symptoms of colon adenoma

Some people don’t have any symptoms. As the polyps grow larger, symptoms can appear.

Some of the things to watch for include:

  • Anemia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark or bloody stools
  • Bleeding from your rectum
  • Constipation or diarrhea that lasts more than a week

Keep in mind that other illnesses and conditions can also cause any of these symptoms. If you have these symptoms, you should see your doctor to find out the cause.

Diagnosis of colon adenoma

Finding colon adenomas before it turns into cancer will lead to a better chance of recovery. To begin, your doctor might test your stools for blood. If these tests show blood in your stools, a colonoscopy is ordered. A colonoscopy uses a camera on a thin tube to look inside your colon. If your doctor finds polyps, these are removed during the procedure and test them to see if any are cancerous.

Another way of diagnosing colon adenoma is through something called a virtual colonoscopy. This is a scan of the colon done outside the body instead of with a camera inside your colon. Or you may have a test using a sigmoidoscopy, which is another tool to look inside your colon.

If the tests are positive, the doctor does a colonoscopy to remove any adenomas.

Treatments for colon adenoma

The treatment for colon adenomas is to remove them. Any polyps found are removed during the colonoscopy. If a polyp is too large, you might need surgery. In rare and extreme cases, you may need surgery to remove your colon and rectum. Unless it is a large polyp, most of the time only one treatment is necessary.

Recovery from colon adenoma

Unless surgery was necessary, your recovery will be very quick. But having this diagnosis puts you at a greater risk for colon cancer, so your follow-up treatment will include testing for new polyps. Most of the time, doctors order these tests three to five years after the first procedure.

Your doctor may advise you to take an anti-inflammatory drug to help keep new polyps from forming. You also will want to be aware of any changes in your bowel habits in the future. Notify your doctor as soon as you notice changes.

You also will want to change any habits that could put you at greater risk for the polyps returning. This means that you should quit smoking and cut out excess alcohol. You should also eat a healthy, high-fiber diet, try to maintain a healthy weight and begin a regular exercise program. Your doctor can help you make a plan that’s right for you and will help you stay healthy in the years to come.

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