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Colon Polypectomy (Polyp Removal)

What is a colon polypectomy?
Why would a doctor recommend a polypectomy?
What does a colon polypectomy involve?
How long is the recovery after a colononscopy and polypectomy?

What is a colon polypectomy?

The colon is another name for your large intestine, the final part of your digestive system. Most colon cancers start out as small growths (polyps) which form on the lining of the large intestine. During a colonoscopy (one type of colorectal cancer screening test) a doctor can find and remove any polyps in the large intestine. This is called a polypectomy. The removal of polyps causes no pain, and keeps cancer from developing.

Why would a doctor recommend a polypectomy?

About 30 percent of people who are screened for colorectal cancer are found to have polyps. In five to ten years, some of these polyps may become cancer.

If colorectal cancer is found at an early stage, a person may have a 95% chance of living longer than five years. If colorectal cancer is found at a late stage, a person may have only a 10% chance of living for five years. If cancer is present, the earlier it is found, the better the outcome.

Because most polyps have no symptoms, it's very important to have a colorectal cancer screening to find and remove polyps before they have a chance to develop into cancer.

What does a colon polypectomy involve?

You will be given medication to make you relaxed and drowsy (some patients even fall asleep during the procedure).

Your doctor will slowly guide the colonoscope through the entire length of the large intestine, which will take about a half-hour. He or she will view the inside of your large intestine on the television monitor, and use a tiny forceps to take a biopsy, or tissue sample, of anything that looks out of the ordinary.

Because there is no way to tell if a polyp will or won't develop into cancer, a doctor removes any polyps he or she finds during a colonoscopy. This removal causes no pain. On occasion, the doctor can remove small early cancerous (malignant) growths in the same manner.

Plan to be at the hospital for about three hours. More information about colorectal cancer screening.

How long is the recovery after a colonoscopy and polypectomy?

You will need some time in the recovery room for the effects of the pain medication to wear off. You will not be alert enough to drive on your own, so make sure a family member or friend can take you home. Plan on resting for the remainder of the day, and eat lightly at first. Minor symptoms such as gas or bloating will disappear within 24 hours.

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