Q:

Is a mass in the colon dangerous?

A:

Quick Answer

A colon mass is not a good sign, even when a biopsy finds the mass to be precancerous or benign. Colon cancer often begins as groups of precancerous cells that form on the colon's inner lining. Removal of these cells is part of preventing colon cancer, notes Mayo Clinic.

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Full Answer

Beginning at age 50, physicians recommend colonscopy, sigmoidoscopy or fecal occult blood tests as part of a regular physical examination for people with average risk of colorectal or colon cancer. People with elevated risk factors because of polyps (precancerous cells) or family history should start their screening sooner to find and remove any growths that have the potential to become cancerous over time, according to the National Cancer Institute.

When physicians check the colon for masses, polyps often appear to be mushroom-shaped although at other times they are recessed into the colon wall or are flat. Over time, precancerous polyps can become cancerous, which is why physicians remove them, explains Mayo Clinic.

One process through which many people develop cancer in this way is through inherited gene mutations. Familial adenomatous polyposis is one inherited mutation that causes the growth of thousands of polyps in the rectum and colon lining, and without treatment, patients have a significantly higher risk of colon cancer before the age of 40. Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, otherwise known as Lynch syndrome, elevates the risk of colon and other cancers, leading to the condition before the age of 50, as stated by Mayo Clinic.

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