Risk of colon cancer from polyps

Most benign colon polyps, when progressing can cause many complications such as gastrointestinal bleeding, intestinal obstruction, even cancer.

Professor Dao Van Long, Director of the Institute for Digestive Research and Training, Hepatobiliary, said colonic polyps are a tumor-like lesion, which can be stalked or non-stemmed, due to the colon mucosa and sub-mucosal proliferation is formed. Over time, some polyps may increase in size, change structure, progress to cancer, or cause complications such as gastrointestinal bleeding or intestinal obstruction.

Currently, the number of people with colon polyps in Vietnam accounts for 10-12%, commonly over 40 years old. There are no specific statistics on progression of polyps to cancer, but experts estimate that about half of colon cancers progress from polyps. Meanwhile, each year, Vietnam records nearly 15,000 new cases of colon cancer.

Polyps are usually small at first and reproduce slowly, causing no symptoms. So it’s important to screen for polyps before they become cancer. This is one of the effective cancer prevention measures.

Colonoscopy is currently the best method of detecting polyps. Through endoscopy, if a polyp is found, the doctor will remove it during the procedure. Colonoscopy also allows the doctor to perform a biopsy to find cancer cells if it is suspected that the patient has colon cancer. This is the complete way to check because people often have more than one polyp and any polyp can progress to a malignant tumor.

Doctors colonoscopy for patients. Image: Thu Trang.

According to Dr. Dao Viet Hang, Deputy Director of Endoscopy Center, Hanoi Medical University Hospital, the rate of omission of gastrointestinal cancer is very worrying. With colon cancer, the pre-cancer lesion (polyp / adenoma) omission rate is 20-47%.

Experts from the Vietnam Digestive and Hepatology Research and Training Institute and other units have recently built software applying artificial intelligence in gastrointestinal endoscopy. The application contributes to improving the detection rate, avoiding missing injuries as well as saving health human resources.

“If a polyp is found, the doctor will warn the patient to follow-up periodically, instead of skipping 5-10 years, then a normal polyp can progress to cancer risk,” said Dr. Hang.

Doctors recommend that people should have regular health checks every 6 months, screen for colon cancer at reputable specialized medical facilities. If a family member has polyps of colon or colon cancer, then close relatives like father, mother, children, siblings must go for cancer screening as soon as possible.

Le Nga