Colon Cancers and Polyps Treated with Minimally Invasive Surgery

The Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery at Mercy - Baltimore, MD

The Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore offers advanced surgical techniques to treat colon polyps as well as colon cancer. Our surgeons may offer robotic surgery to appropriate patients for the treatment of colon conditions. 

About the Condition

What are Colon Polyps?

A polyp is an abnormal group of cells that can form on the lining of the large intestine (colon). Polyps can be flat (sessile) or attached to a stalk (pedunculated). Colon polyps usually grow slowly and are benign (non-cancerous), but a small percentage can become cancerous (malignant) over a period of years. It is not clear why colon polyps develop but risk factors may include older age, being overweight, smoking and family history of colon polyps or colon cancer.

Can Colon Polyps become cancerous?

Colon cancer often begins as a small benign polyp which grows larger over time and becomes malignant. It is estimated that 1 in 15 people may get colon cancer. If it is found early enough, it is highly curable.

NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Colon Polyps and Colon Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis

Often there are no symptoms or pain with colon polyps or early colon cancer. If symptoms are present they are similar for both conditions, and may include some or all of the following:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in stool, either streaks or stool black or maroon colored
  • Change in bowel habits lasting more than a week
  • Feeling of incomplete bowel emptying
  • Narrowing of stool
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting

Many of the same tests are used to determine whether benign polyps or colon cancer are present. Your doctor will determine which tests are best for you. These may include:

  • Digital rectal exam (the doctor will check for growths in the rectum using a gloved finger)
  • Stool sample tests for occult (hidden) blood, FOBT or FIT
  • Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy
  • Barium enema
  • CT scan
  • Stool DNA testing
  • Biopsy and tissue analysis for cancer cells

NEXT: Treatment Options ›
Treatment Options

Colon Polyps Treatment Options

It is important to find and completely remove colon polyps (polypectomy). If left in place, they will continue to grow, and over time a small percentage will become malignant. Many polyps are discovered during routine colonoscopy and can be removed at that time. But some polyps are too large or in an area that is difficult to reach. In these cases minimally invasive can be used to successfully and completely remove them.

Colon Cancer Treatment Options

Laparoscopic surgical techniques can be used to remove small colon cancers along with nearby lymph nodes. Laboratory examination of the cancerous polyp and the lymph node tissue by a Board Certified Pathologist will reveal whether cancer cells have spread (metastasized) to other places in the body. In the case of metastasis, other effective therapies are available through Mercy’s Institute for Cancer Care and its skilled and dedicated team of health professionals.

Minimally Invasive Surgery for Colon Conditions

Minimally invasive surgery is often the treatment of choice for complete removal of large benign polyps and early malignant polyps that do not respond to other treatment.

Advantages of minimally invasive surgery may include:

  • Little or no scarring
  • Less discomfort after surgery
  • Same day surgery or shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery time

Follow-up care is essential after treatment of colon polyps, colon cancer and diverticulitis. New polyps may form, but cause no symptoms in the beginning. Your doctor can recommend how often you should have physical checkups and colonoscopies.