Rectal polyps are abnormal growths rising from the lining of the large intestine and protruding into the intestinal canal.
Although most polyps are benign, the relationship of certain polyps to cancer is well established.
Most polyps produce no symptoms and often are found incidentally during endoscopy (colonoscopy) or x-ray of the bowel. Some polyps produce bleeding, mucous discharge, alteration in bowel function, or abdominal pain.
Polyps are diagnosed either by visualizing the colon lining directly via endoscopy or indirectly by x-ray study (barium enema).
Sigmoidoscopy does not require much preparation and can be performed as outpatient procedure.
Rigid sigmoidoscopy permits examination of the lower six to eight inches of the large intestine.
In flexible sigmoidoscopy lower one-fourth to one-third of the colon is examined.
Colonoscopy permits inspection of the entire colon. Bowel preparation is required, and sedation is often used.
Relationship of polyp to cancer is well established. Since we can not predict whether or not a polyp is or will become malignant, total removal of all polyps is advised.
The vast majority of polyps can be removed endoscopically by snaring with a wire loop Small polyps can be destroyed by coagulating electrical current. It can be done as outpatient basis with minimal discomfort. Large polyps may require more than one treatment for complete removal.
Some polyps cannot be removed by endoscope because of their size or position; surgery is then required.
Once a polyp is completely removed, its recurrence is unusual. But new polyps develop in at least 30 percent of people who have previously had polyps because factors casing polyp are still present.