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Martha Jefferson Monday: What are Polyps and How are They Treat - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Martha Jefferson Monday: What are Polyps and How are They Treated?

With March being colon cancer awareness month, we wanted to answer some common questions about colon cancer screening, and to start, we need a better understanding of polyps.

“Polyps are growths that occur inside the colon or large intestine,” noted Dr. Bill Laffond, a family physician at Madison Family Medicine.  “You can think of them as a little out pouching of tissue.”

Dr. Laffond says that while some polyps are entirely harmless, others have characteristics that make them a precursor to colon cancer and if left untouched, its’ only a matter of time before the polyps will likely turn into cancer.

“We think it takes somewhere around the order of 5 to 10 years for a precancerous polyp to turn into an invasive cancer, so that’s a time period that allows us to possibly detect them and get rid of them long before they can turn into a cancer that can hurt someone,” noted Dr. Laffond.

And the good news is, there are several different ways to detect precancerous polyps.

One option is to check a stool sample annually for blood, as some polyps will occasionally bleed into the stool.  A sigmoidoscopy is a second option that allows doctors to look partway into the colon for polyps. And, a colonoscopy is the final, and most complete, way to look for polyps.

“Right now, any one of those three tests can be used to find colon cancer,” shared Dr. Laffond.  “Some doctors prefer one or the other because some are more accurate than others, and some are safer than others.”

Dr. Laffond notes that the good news is polyps can typically be immediately removed and sent to the lab for testing.

“Often the doctor performing the test can take a piece, or even the entire polyp, off during the procedure and then send to the lab to be analyzed to determine if it’s precancerous or not.”

For more information on this topic, call Health Connection at (434) 654-7009.

If you have a health question you’d like us to answer, email healthquestions@nbc29.com.

Do you have health questions? Starting June 4, get the answers every Monday morning from the experts at Martha Jefferson Hospital in our new feature: Martha Jefferson Monday.

Jenn Downs will meet with the experts of Martha Jefferson Hospital and ask them your questions. You’ll see and hear the answers during NBC29 News at Sunrise every Monday morning.

Submit your questions now! Just click this link and write your question in the email. Then tune in every Monday morning during NBC29 News at Sunrise for Martha Jefferson Monday brought to you by NBC29 and Martha Jefferson Hospital.

 
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