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Polyps are tissue growths that project into a body cavity or passage. They appear in the colon, in the uterus, and on the cervix. A bleeding polyp is one that has been ripped, torn, or ruptured, causing it to release blood into the surrounding area. Most polyps are benign growths, although some can be malignant or premalignant. All polyps are susceptible to bleeding, but those that have a raised formation are more prone to injury.
These growths may or may not cause symptoms, and some patients are not aware they have polyps. In the colon, they may cause a change in normal bowel movements. Those that are in the uterus may cause an increase in cramping during menstrual periods. Cervical polyps can cause bleeding between menstrual periods as well as pain during intercourse. Sinus polyps can interfere with normal mucus drainage and cause clogged sinuses and headaches.
Sometimes, the first indication that a patient has an abnormal growth is when he or she develops a bleeding polyp. A bleeding polyp is not indicative of cancer; it is only a symptom of an injured polyp. When it occurs in the colon, the patient may test positive on a fecal blood test. Cervical polyps may rupture during intercourse and begin to bleed. The act of sneezing or blowing the nose can tear a sinus polyp, resulting in blood-tinged mucus.
Doctors diagnose most polyps by visual examination. Ultrasounds can sometimes reveal larger polyps. Polyps that are on the cervix, uterus, or sinuses are rarely cancerous and are usually only removed if they are troublesome or bleeding. Medical professionals always remove colon polyps, as this can be the first sign of colon cancer. No matter where it is located, a bleeding polyp is almost always removed to stop the bleeding and prevent future recurrence.
Polyps that are on a raised stalk are easier to remove than those that are flat. Raised polyps can be surgically removed by twisting them or tying them off at their bases. Doctors remove both raised and flat polyps by cauterizing them with an electric current or cutting them with wire loop biopsy forceps. Patients usually require only local anesthesia during the removal process, except those that occur in the colon, which are usually taken out during a colonoscopy procedure while the patient is sedated. Unless there are other concerns about a patient's health, the removal is an outpatient procedure.