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Colorectal Diseases

Polyps

02/20/2004

Question:

My Dad just had a colonoscopy and they removed some polyps. What makes these polyps grow? Is there anything we can do to keep them from growing back? Do I have to worry about them growing in me?

Answer:

We do not know why most polyps grow, especially the precancerous or adenomatous types. Adenomatous polyps are hereditary, so you too are at risk. In general the currently accepted guidelines state that you need a screening exam at 40 years if you have a first degree relative with colorectal cancer or polyps after 60 ("sporadic type"). If you have an affected first degree relative younger than 60 years, you should be screened 10 years earlier than they were diagnosed. If you have a cluster of relatives with polyps and cancers, you may need a complete colonoscopy even earlier, since some familial colorectal cancers tend to occur on the right side of the colon. If you have no risk factors (family history; personal history of inflammatory bowel disease) you should be screened at 50. 

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Response by:

Janice Frederick Rafferty, MD Janice Frederick Rafferty, MD
Professor of Surgery
Chief of Colorectal Surgery Division
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati