One of the best ways to find colon polyps is with colonoscopy. During this exam, a long, flexible tube, called a colonoscope, is inserted into the rectum. A tiny video camera at the tip of the tube allows your doctor to view the inside of the colon. If your doctor finds a small polyp, it can usually be removed during the colonoscopy. For larger polyps, a tissue sample, or biopsy, may be taken during a colonoscopy for further examination. If a polyp cannot be completely removed during a colonoscopy, it may need to be surgically removed later.
For people age 50 and older who do not have any risk factors for colon cancer other than age, colonoscopies are typically recommended once every 10 years, beginning at age 50. People who have additional risk factors may need colonoscopy more often than that and start having them at a younger age. If you’ve had one or more polyps removed, you are more likely to get additional polyps in the future. It’s important, therefore, to follow your doctor’s recommendation for getting colonoscopies, so any new polyps can be caught quickly.
Regular colon cancer screening with colonoscopy significantly lowers your risk of developing colon cancer. — John Pemberton, M.D., Colon and Rectal Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.