WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF POLYPS?
Most polyps produce no symptoms. When they do produce symptoms it is usually bleeding, mucous discharge in bowel movements, or a change in bowel function (constipation or diarrhea).
HOW ARE POLYPS DIAGNOSED?
Polyps are diagnosed by either, looking directly at the lining of the colon, or x-rays (barium enema).
There are different scopes to visualize the colon and rectum. Anoscopy, looks at the anal canal, proctoscopy, looks at the rectum (8-12 inches), and flexible sigmoidoscopy, looks at 12-18 inches of the colon and rectum.
Since the colon is 3-4 feet long, a colonoscopy is the best choice when evaluating the colon. Any other/shorter tests, may miss a significant portion of the colon and possible polyps.
Checking the stool for blood with a digital rectal exam or microscopic tests is a poor test to evaluate for colon polyps. A negative test does rule out the presence of polyps. A positive test usually warrants a colonoscopy.
If 1 polyps is found, there may be a 30% chance of other polyps.