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Sessile Polyps: What You Should Know

Sessile polyps

You’ve done the right thing for your health and gotten your screening colonoscopy. But what if a polyp was discovered and removed? Your report may have described it as a “sessile polyp.” But what does that mean?

Polyps are growths that develop on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. They can be different sizes and shapes, and while many are harmless, some can turn into cancer over time.

Polyps are categorized based on how they grow and their cellular structure. For instance, adenomatous polyps, or adenomas, can potentially become cancerous, whereas hyperplastic polyps are usually benign and less concerning.

What Is a Sessile Polyp?

A sessile polyp is an abnormal tissue growth that forms on the lining of your colon. When we say sessile, it means the polyp is attached directly to the tissue with a broad base. This is unlike pedunculated polyps, which are connected to the lining by a stalk.

Sessile polyps are usually flat or dome-shaped and don’t move. They can be harmless, precancerous, or cancerous.

Do Sessile Polyps Have Symptoms?

Many sessile polyps are asymptommeaning means they do not e any noticeable symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as persistent diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort

What Are Complications of Sessile Polyps?

Anemia

Sessile polyps in your colon or rectum can cause chronic bleeding, which may result in iron deficiency anemia. This condition arises when your body lacks sufficient iron to produce red blood cells. Common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Heart palpitations.

Intestinal blockage

Large polyps can obstruct stool passage in your colon, leading to:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty passing gas or stool

Colon cancer

Because sessile polyps often go unnoticed without causing symptoms, regular screening is crucial for early detection and prevention of potential progression to cancer.

What is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer begins in the colon or rectum, which are parts of the lower digestive tract. It often starts as a polyp that becomes cancerous over time. Colon cancer is highly treatable when caught early.

Screening colonoscopies are essential for detecting polyps early.

During a colonoscopy, a small tube with a camera is inserted into the rectum to examine the colon’s lining. If polyps are found, they can be removed immediately, which helps prevent cancer and allows for further analysis to determine their nature.

What Happens If Sessile Polyps Are Discovered?

The goal of treating sessile polyps is to remove them so they can’t turn into colorectal cancer. How they are removed varies depending on the size, type, and number of sessile polyps detected and can involve several approaches:

  • Removal during colonoscopy: Your gastroenterologist can often remove sessile polyps during a colonoscopy. They use special instruments to cut, cauterize, or destroy the abnormal tissues right then and there.
  • Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR): Your gastroenterologist might use EMR for larger sessile polyps. This technique involves lifting the polyp from the surrounding tissue by suctioning or injecting a solution beneath it, then removing it with surgical tools.
  • Abdominal surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary, especially if the sessile polyp is large or in a difficult-to-reach location. The surgeon would make incisions into the abdomen to remove larger sections of the colon or rectum to remove the polyp.

Can Sessile Polyps Be Prevented?

While there’s no sure way to prevent sessile polyps, adopting healthy lifestyle habits can help lower your risk. Key steps include eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and quitting smoking.

If you have a family history of colon polyps or colorectal cancer, or if you notice concerning symptoms like blood in your stool, it’s important to talk to your doctor. If a polyp has been removed during a colonoscopy, your doctor may recommend more frequent colonoscopies to monitor your colon health proactively.

If you’re 45 or older, don’t delay any longer – schedule your colonoscopy today!

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