Your doctor is likely to remove all polyps discovered during a bowel examination. The options for removal include:
- Removal with forceps or a wire loop (polypectomy). If a polyp is too large to remove with this method, a liquid may be injected under it to lift and isolate the polyp from surrounding tissue so that it can be removed.
- Minimally invasive surgery. Polyps that are too large or that can't be removed safely during screening are usually removed surgically, which is often performed by inserting an instrument called a laparoscope into the abdomen to remove the diseased portion of the bowel.
- Colon and rectum removal (total proctocolectomy). If you have a rare inherited syndrome, such as FAP, you may need surgery to remove your colon and rectum to protect you from developing a life-threatening cancer.
Some types of colon polyps are more likely to become cancerous than others. A doctor who specializes in analyzing tissue samples (pathologist) will examine your polyp tissue under a microscope to determine whether it is potentially cancerous.
If you have had an adenomatous polyp or a serrated polyp, you are at increased risk of colon cancer. The level of risk depends on the size, number and characteristics of the adenomatous polyps that were removed.
You'll need follow-up screenings for polyps. Your doctor is likely to recommend a colonoscopy:
- In 5 to 10 years if you had only one or two small adenomas
- In 3 to 5 years if you had three or four adenomas
- In three years if you had 5 to 10 adenomas, adenomas larger than 10 millimeters, or certain types of adenomas
- Within six months if you had multiple adenomas, a very large adenoma or an adenoma that had to be removed in pieces
Preparing for your colonoscopy
It's very important to fully prepare (clean out) your colon before a colonoscopy. If stool remains in the colon and obstructs your doctor's view of the colon wall, you will likely need a follow-up colonoscopy sooner than usual to ensure that all polyps are discovered.
After a good colon preparation, bowel movements should appear as clear liquid, which may be slightly yellow or green-tinged, depending on the color of any liquids consumed during the preparation. If you experience trouble with your colon preparation, or feel that you have not been cleaned out by the preparation, you should discuss this with your doctor before beginning your colonoscopy, as some people require additional steps in preparation before attempting colonoscopy.