Cancer-causing bowel polyps

Cancer-causing bowel polyp could be more common than once thought
This article was first posted on Friday, 20. July 2018 on ABC News. Article by Emma Siossian.

An Australian doctor says he believes a risky type of colon polyp that can lead to bowel cancer may be more common than previously thought. It was initially thought serrated polyposis syndrome — which can indicate an increased risk of bowel cancer — was quite rare, at around one in 3,000 people, but in recent years research has suggested it may be more common. A study by gastroenterologist Stuart Kostalas, which has been submitted for consideration at a medical conference in Europe later this year, may add weight to this idea.

Dr Stuart Kostalas
PHOTO: Dr Stuart Kostalas says it is important to find the 'goldilocks area' where at-risk patients are tested not too often but not too little. (ABC News: Emma Siossian)

The research assessed almost 4,000 patients who had a colonoscopy at Dr Kostalas's Port Macquarie practice on the New South Wales mid-north coast between January 2015 and March 2018, and detected serrated polyposis syndrome in nearly three per cent. "The results are due to a range of factors, including improved technology and detection methods, better training plus improved bowel preparation," Dr Kostalas said. Colorectal surgeon and director of Bowel Cancer Australia, Graham Newstead, said these types of polyps have been increasingly on the medical radar in recent years.

"Jeremy Jass … a pathologist at St Marks Hospital in London identified these [polyps] as being different some years ago," Dr Newstead said.

"I wrote an article showing how much more risky they were compared to the regular polyps in the bowel." "They are very hard to see. They grow like a flat polyp and are not that different in look from the regular lining of the bowel, so we can miss them. And they do have a higher risk of cancer."

Dr Newstead said because of their increased cancer risk patients with the polyp required regular colonoscopies.

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