Did you know that colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide, with an estimated 1.8 million new cases and 881,000 deaths in 2018 alone? While the thought of cancer can be scary, the good news is that screening can prevent colorectal cancer by detecting and removing polyps before they turn into cancer.
But not all polyps are created equal. The size of a polyp plays a crucial role in determining the risk of developing colorectal cancer. In this article, we will discuss the importance of polyp size and how it affects colorectal cancer screening. Here are the key points we will cover:
What are Polyps and How are They Detected?
Polyps are abnormal growths that can develop in the colon or rectum. While most polyps are harmless, some can turn into cancer over time. Polyps can be detected through various screening tests, including:
- Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)
- Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)
- Stool DNA Test
Why Does Polyp Size Matter?
The size of a polyp determines its risk of turning into cancer. Generally, the larger the polyp, the greater the risk of cancer. According to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the risk of cancer in a polyp is:
- Less than 1% for polyps smaller than 1 centimeter (cm)
- Between 2% and 5% for polyps between 1 cm and 2 cm
- Between 5% and 10% for polyps larger than 2 cm
What Happens if a Polyp is Found?
If a polyp is found during screening, it will be removed and sent for testing to determine if it is cancerous or precancerous. If the polyp is precancerous, your doctor will recommend follow-up screening at regular intervals to ensure that any new polyps are detected and removed before they turn into cancer.
What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Colorectal Cancer?
- Get screened for colorectal cancer at regular intervals
- Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
Polyp size is an important factor in determining the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Regular screening can detect and remove polyps before they turn into cancer, and making lifestyle changes can also reduce your risk. Talk to your doctor about when to begin screening and how often to get screened based on your individual risk factors. Remember, early detection saves lives!