Polyps usually grow on the lining of the colon, but they can develop anywhere in the large intestine. Most polyps are benign growths and have few if any symptoms. Overtime if they become larger, they can become cancerous, and certain symptoms will appear.
Be aware of these 5 colon polyp symptoms, and make sure to contact Digestive Health Services immediately if you notice any that apply to you.
Changes in Stool Color
Changes in stool color from brown to dark black is a sign not to ignore. In some cases, the stool can have red streaks. There are a number of other reasons why this may occur like recent food consumed, certain medications, or even supplements.
Changes in Bowel Habits
Watch out for constipation or diarrhea that lasts longer than a week or so. This symptom could indicate the existence of a large polyp.
Persistent pain in the abdomen usually occurs with a large polyp as it begins to cause an obstruction in the colon.
When a large polyp bleeds internally over time, you may not see any blood but it will present as an iron deficiency or anemia. Regular blood tests can identify this problem along with symptoms like shortness of breath or being overly tired
Bleeding from the Rectum
This symptom is a serious one. Of course, there may be other reasons like hemorrhoids or a tear in the anus, but it may also be from a very large polyp or even possibly from cancer. You should see Digestive Health Services immediately to accurately diagnose the cause of any rectal bleeding.
Additional Risk Factors of Concern
If you experience unintentional weight loss in conjunction with some of the other symptoms mentioned above, this should be of concern. Certain inflammatory polyps can lead to Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel disease (IBS) which all increase the risk of cancer.
If you are over 50, drink alcohol to excess, smoke, or do not get sufficient exercise, you can be at a higher risk to develop a cancerous polyp. African Americans are at a high risk as are those who are obese or have uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes.
However, you can reduce your risk by:
- Eating a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables
- Increasing the number of whole grains in your daily diet
- Cutting back on alcohol consumption
- Quitting smoking
- Increasing your physical activity
One Final Caution
The American Cancer Society tells us that more young adults are being diagnosed with colon cancer. For that reason, the recommendation has changed to begin colorectal screenings from age 50 to age 45. Regular screenings can catch small polyps before they large and likely cancerous.