In the United States, one of the most common gastrointestinal conditions is colorectal polyps—abnormal growths that forms on the inner (mucosal) wall of the colon or rectum. Most polyps are benign (not cancerous). “However, many polyps are precancerous [adenomas], which, if they remain in place for over 5 to 7 years, may progress towards a cancer,” says Yale Medicine’s Harry Aslanian, MD, a Yale Medicine gastroenterologist.
“The detection and removal of colorectal polyps in a benign state prevents them from ever progressing towards a cancer,” he says. That’s why doctors encourage adults over 50 to have regular screening tests. Individuals with a family history of colon cancer or polyps may benefit from initiating screening sooner.