Polyps and hemorrhoids are two common types of growths found in the colorectal region.
Upon visual or tactile inspection, polyps and hemorrhoids both appear to be a round, bulbous projection from the mucus membranes of the rectum.
What is the difference between Polyps and Hemorrhoids?
How can we determine the difference?
Polyps And Hemorrhoids The Difference
Polyps and hemorrhoids are two completely distinct structures. A polyp is an overgrowth of the mucus membrane inside the rectum. Consequently, it is most likely solid. A hemorrhoid, on the other hand, is an inflamed, swollen vein. It is filled with moving liquid.
Sometimes a polyp is not directly attached to the rectal wall. Instead, the growth hangs by a thin stalk. This type of polyp is called a pedunculated polyp. A hemorrhoid, being a vein, can never be “pedunculated”.
What does a polyp signify?
A polyp, in the colorectal region, is synonymous with tumor—it can be the precursor to colon cancer. Even if the polyp is currently benign, it may become malignant over a period of time. Most physicians, upon discovery of a colorectal polyp, will remove the polyp, and send it to a laboratory for a biopsy.
The biopsy will search for malignant cells, and determine if cancer is present. Because a polyp is sometimes a telltale sign of cancer, its discovery can trigger quite a scare. However, a hemorrhoid forebodes no such doom. A hemorrhoid is not a tumor; the swollen blood vessel can never become malignant. A hemorrhoid usually cannot evolve into a worse condition.
Lifestyle Can Be A Cause Of Hemorrhoids
The state of the hemorrhoid can worsen, however. Hemorrhoids are often caused by a lifestyle problem: not eating enough fibre, resulting in lots of straining during defecation, which damages the rectal veins. If lifestyle changes are not made, a hemorrhoid can become so swollen and distended that it prolapses (it hangs out of the body).
When the hemorrhoid becomes prolapsed, it can then become a strangulated hemorrhoid. The anal sphincter closes tightly, cutting blood flow to the swollen vein. Because of these unpleasant developments, hemorrhoids should not be left to fester.
How Do You Know If You Have A Polyp
What are the symptoms that a polyp is present? Polyps are generally asymptomatic. Sometimes, they cause constipation, diarrhea, stomach pains, and rectal bleeding. For most patients, however, polyps are discovered at a colon cancer screening.
Polyps And Hemorrhoids Can Have Similar Symptoms
Hemorrhoids in the rectum are usually asymptomatic as well. Occasionally the swollen veins will become so irritated by feces that they rupture, resulting in rectal bleeding. The blood will be bright red, covering the feces. As this is a symptom of polyps as well, rectal bleeding should not lead to any other conclusion than “I should visit my doctor”.
What do physicians do about polyps?
Because of the risk of colon cancer, polyps are almost always removed as soon as possible. As a currently benign polyp can always become malignant, doctors go by a “better safe than sorry” motto. The removal of polyps reduces the chances of future cancer.
Hemorrhoids, if severe, can be surgically removed as well. However, physicians usually recommend a few lifestyle changes. If the hemorrhoid is mild, these lifestyle changes will usually cause it to go away.