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DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I'm 46 and had my first colonoscopy last month. The doctor said everything looked good, although he removed a few polyps. Can you explain what a colon polyp is and if should I be concerned?
ANSWER: Although the guidelines have changed in recent years, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that people should be screened with a colonoscopy beginning at age 45, so congratulations for undergoing this important cancer screening. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S., with about 50,000 people dying each year from this disease.
Polyps are one of the key culprits in colon cancer. Most people with polyps may not experience any symptoms. It's important to have regular screening tests, such as a colonoscopy. Polyps found in the early stages usually can be removed safely and completely.
Here are answers to six common questions about polyps:
Talk with your health care team about what interval is right for you.
You may need to be tested more often than others if:
Colon polyps are not a cause for concern for most people. But if you begin experiencing symptoms such as rectal bleeding, changes in bowel habits or stool color, or pain, it can be a sign of polyp development. Reach out to your health care team to discuss additional screening. — Dr. Ajay Pal Singh, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic Health System, Mankato, Minnesota
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