What Is an Anal Polyp?

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  • Written By: V. Saxena
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 10 July 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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An anal polyp, also known as a rectal polyp, is an abnormal, mushroom-like growth sticking out from the mucous membrane that lines the anus or colon. It typically starts as a microscopic and benign growth, but over time it can become malignant. Polyps need to be identified and removed as quickly as possible. The four types of anal polyps are inflammatory, hyperplastic, tubular adenoma or adenomatous, and villous adenoma or tubulovillous adenoma.

Inflammatory anal polyps are common in people with Chrohn's disease. It is actually an enlarged mass of mucous membrane that resembles a polyp, but isn’t in fact one. This mass is a reaction to some type of chronic inflammation in the anus. Inflammatory polyps are completely benign and cannot lead to cancer.

Hyperplastic polyps feature rapidly growing cancerous tissue that could potentially become malignant. Since a hyperplastic anal polyp is small, it carries a lower risk of danger. Due to its size it cannot be detected by a conventional colonoscopy, which means a doctor must perform a biopsy instead.

Tubular adenoma, or adenomas polyps, are the most common form of anal polyps, and make up 70% of all diagnosed anal and rectal polyps. This type of anal polyp manifests itself without any symptoms, which makes detection much harder. To make matters worse, adenomas polyps grow very slowly and can take years to become cancerous, after which they can be fatal. Individuals with a family history of tubular adenoma should undergo annual colon cancer screenings.

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A villous adenoma, or tubulovilluous adenoma, polyp is present in only 15% of cases, but it is the most dangerous type of polyp. It is the highest risk polyp and is a much larger and threatening growth than the other types of anal polyps. Unlike the other polyps, villous adenomas usually attach themselves directly to the wall of the anus, which makes them more difficult to remove. Most cases of villous adenoma require surgery.

The treatment for an anal polyp differs based on which type it is. Individuals can lower their risk of polyp growth by obtaining annual cancer screenings and eating more fiber and calcium. Adding more calcium to the diet can potentially reduce the risk developing a polyp by 25%, but an increased calcium level can increase an individual’s risk for other cancers.

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Discuss this Article

lluviaporos
Post 3

@pastanaga - It isn't a fun process, but it's absolutely vital. If you can manage to get the check-up paid for by your insurance, that's even better. They ought to do it, because getting precancerous colon polyps removed is much cheaper than paying out on someone who develops cancer.

pastanaga
Post 2

@MrsPramm - That's a long and awful process to go through in order to get an all clear. Of course, it's nice to get the good results, but I can see why it might be frustrating as well.

One of my friends recently had some colon polyps removed. She absolutely hated the whole experience. They make you clear out your digestive system before they actually go in to do anything, which means laxatives for a day beforehand and nothing to eat.

Still, anything beats cancer, that's for sure.

MrsPramm
Post 1

My mother recently had a colonoscopy and it was a really scary wait for the results. We understood that if they had found polyps, they would have taken a sample and we wouldn't find out if it was cancer for a few days.

My mother has had some stomach issues for a while now and we were pretty convinced that there was something wrong and that they were going to find colon cancer. My grandfather had cancer removed more than once, so we know it runs in the family.

But they didn't find a single polyp. And my mother is almost 60, so the doctors were actually surprised that there wasn't anything at all there, let alone cancer.

It was good, of course, but also a bit frustrating because we still don't know why she is feeling unwell all the time.

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