Colorectal polyps are small, slow-growing protrusions from the inner wall of the colon or rectum. While most polyps are benign, some can become cancerous. Unless they cause bleeding, you may not even know you have them. At NewYork-Presbyterian, we offer colonoscopy and other procedures to find and remove colorectal polyps before they become cancerous — an effective means of preventing colorectal cancer. We also provide genetic counseling and monitoring for families with hereditary polyp syndromes that place them at increased risk of colorectal cancer and other cancers.
Your healthcare team
Depending on the size, number, and extent of your polyps, your team may include a gastroenterologist, colorectal surgeon, genetic counselor, registered dietitian, and others with experience caring for people with colorectal polyps. We will assemble a team of specialists to address your needs.
Screening for colorectal polyps
Polyps and early colorectal cancer often cause no symptoms, which is why periodic routine screening is important—even if you have no symptoms. NewYork-Presbyterian offers colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, double-contrast barium enema, and fecal occult blood testing as polyp screening methods, starting at age 50 in people at average risk. (If you or a family member has a history of polyps or colorectal cancer, your screening may begin sooner and occur more frequently; your doctor will let you know.) If we find polyps, we will customize a plan of follow-up screening, based on the number and size of polyps found and your personal and family medical history.
Colorectal polyp treatment
Most polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy.
- Large colon polyps. We remove larger polyps and those that are challenging to reach with colonoscopy alone by using an innovative combination of colonoscopy and laparoscopy. Called "combined endo-laparoscopic surgery" (CELS) and pioneered at NewYork-Presbyterian, CELS is a novel option for people who have been told that they must have a portion of the colon removed because the polyps are not easily accessed. Your recovery from CELS is faster than with open surgery because it can be completed using small incisions.
- Rectal polyps. Our surgeons have expertise in advanced endoscopic polypectomy techniques, laparoscopic surgery, transanal endoscopy microsurgery (TEMS), and endoanal procedures for difficult-to-reach rectal polyps. These options may help you avoid surgery or enable you to have minimally invasive surgery rather than an open procedure.
Care for inherited colorectal polyp syndromes
Individuals with a rare inherited disorder, familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), develop hundreds to thousands of polyps in the colon often as early as their teenage years, and typically develop colon cancer before age 40. These polyps increase in number and become cancerous if the colon is not removed.
- NewYork-Presbyterian offers genetic counseling to assess cancer risk in people with FAP and develop a surveillance plan to manage risk in you and your family members. Our colorectal surgeons are experts in colectomy (colon removal) in people with FAP and can often construct a "J-pouch" from remaining intestinal tissue to avoid the need for a colostomy (bag worn outside the abdomen to collect waste).