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December 29, 2016

My doctor found a colon polyp. When do I need to repeat a colonoscopy?

A colon polyp may be found during a routine colonoscopy procedure. Polyps are abnormal growths on the inside lining of the colon. They vary in size and shape and usually cause no symptoms.

A colonoscopy is a minimally invasive examination and is a procedure used most often to screen for colon cancer and/or to identify and correct bleeding problems within the colon. Colonoscopy is an important way to check for colon cancer and to treat polyps. Once a polyp is found and removed, patients are put into a colonoscopy observation period. Observation means keeping a close eye on a particular patient who routinely forms polyps. This is a form of a preventative measure used to scope out polyps instead of waiting the full 10 years for the next colonoscopy.

Three elements define the observation period given to patients:

  • The size of the largest polyp found on the initial colonoscopy.
  • The number of polyps found on the initial colonoscopy.
  • The most advanced histology found on the last colonoscopy.

Here are the recommendations for the most common situations encountered after a screening colonoscopy:

A colonoscopy is needed within 5 years of the initial procedure if:

  • One or two small tubular adenomas were found.

A colonoscopy is needed within 3 years of the initial procedure if:

  • Three or more small tubular adenomas were found.
  • At least one large tubular adenoma was found.
  • Any polyp had villous features.
  • Any polyp had high-grade dysplasia.

A colonoscopy is needed less than 3 years of the initial procedure if:

  • More than ten adenomas were found.
  • Invasive colon cancer was found in a polyp.

To obtain additional information on your upcoming colonoscopy or about colon polyps, please do not hesitate to contact your gastroenterologist.