A colonoscopy is the best test to prevent colorectal cancer by finding and removing pre-cancerous growths called polyps before they have a chance to turn into cancer. Polyps are abnormal growths of tissue in the lining of the colon or in the rectum. If not removed, some polyps can turn into cancer over time. While colorectal cancer may start within a polyp, most polyps do not contain cancer.
Most polyps can be removed during a routine colonoscopy. However, sometimes polyps are too large and complex to be removed during the standard procedure and require specialists with expertise in advanced techniques.
At the Colon Polyp Center at Cooper (part of the Digestive Health Institute), our nationally renowned experts have been at the forefront of complex polyp care and provide patients with a full array of diagnostic and treatment services. The combination of unparalleled expertise, state-of-the-art technologies and innovative treatment approaches allow most patients to avoid surgery for their complex polyps.
Risk Factors for Colon Polyps
Colon polyps are common and can develop in anyone. There are certain factors, however, that can increase the risk of developing polyps, including:
- Age 45 or older
- Being overweight
- A personal or family history of polyps or colorectal cancer
Types of Complex Polyps
There are several different kinds of colon polyps but the most common are hyperplastic, sessile serrated, adenomatous, and malignant. Hyperplastic polyps are small and do not develop into cancer. The majority of polyps discovered during a colonoscopy are adenomatous – polyps that may develop into cancer at some point. Malignant polyps contain cancer cells.
Treatment of Complex Colon Polyps
The treatment for complex polyps generally involves minimally invasive procedures like endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR), full thickness resection or endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD).
Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) – the most common procedure for removing complex polyps. During the outpatient procedure a gastroenterologist uses a long, flexible tube called endoscope or colonoscope to remove the polyp, which has been injected with fluid so it lifts away from the walls of the colon for safer removal.
Endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) – involves an advanced interventional gastroenterologist using a device called an endoscope to tunnel under a lesion and remove it as one piece.
Patients typically have a follow-up colonoscopy within a couple of months of either procedure to ensure the entire polyp has been removed.
Why Choose Cooper for Your Complex Polyp Care
At Cooper, the unparalleled expertise or our specialists and our state-of-the-art technologies and innovative treatment approaches allow most patients to avoid surgery for their complex polyps. In the majority of cases, Cooper patients receive treatment for their complex colon polyps on an outpatient basis. In those cases where surgery is needed, Cooper has the expertise to perform minimally invasive surgical procedures.
Our multidisciplinary team includes gastroenterologists, pathologists, colorectal surgeons, general surgeons, and nurse practitioners, and other health care professionals working together collaboratively to provide your or your loved one with the most advanced care possible.