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How Long Does It Take A Polyp To Turn Into Cancer?

Colorectal cancer is one of the major causes related to cancer death in both women and men. Particularly, it is the third major cause associated with cancer death among large number of women.

Colorectal Cancer Symptoms

Colorectal cancer comes with the following major symptoms-

  • Narrow stools, diarrhea or constipation problem categorizes under bowel habits’ changes for a period of few days.
  • Urgency associated with movement of bowels or feeling, as you have to move more bowels than before.
  • Abdominal pain and presence of blood in your stool.
  • Fatigue and/or weakness.

Stages of Colorectal Cancer

Similar to any other types of cancer, colon cancer comes with different stages, which include the following-

Stage 0: In this stage, doctors found dysplastic or abnormal cells in the mucosa or innermost lining of one’s colon. They call this stage as intramucosal carcinoma or carcinoma in situ and it has only a small chance of spreading the cells. Because of this, the doctors do not consider this stage as an invasive cancer.

Stage 1: In the first stage, cancer spreads to the colon’s inner lining, but does not spread beyond the rectum or colon wall.

Stage 2: Cancer spreads through the rectum or colon and may invade the nearby tissues without the involvement of any lymph node.

Stage 3: Cancer spreads to lymph nodes, but not across its distant sites.

Stage 4: Cancer spreads to distant parts of one’s body, such as lungs or liver.

Polyp and Colorectal Cancer

Positive thing in case of colorectal cancer problem is that the disease is both treatable and preventable. This is because; regular screening and removal of harmful polyps reduces the risk of colorectal cancer by approximately 90 percent.

When patients opt to undergo diagnosis and treatment of colon cancer in the first stage, they have about 92 percent chances to survive for about 5 years. However, once the cancer becomes large and spreads to lymph nodes, survival rate of 5 years goes down between 53 percent and 89 percent, in accordance with the involved number of nodes. If the polyp cancer spreads already to distant parts of one’s body, such as lungs and liver, the survival rate further reduces to 11 percent.

Large intestine constitutes the last section of one’s digestive tract and it comprises of the rectum and colon. Colon has 4 to 6 feet length, while the last 7 to 9 inches of the section is the rectum. Once digestion of food takes place in one’s stomach and small intestine absorb the essential nutrients, waste from the process goes within the colon, where it solidifies and stays for about 1 or 2-day period until it moves out from the body.

In some cases, body of a person produces tissues in so rapid manner that ultimately it results in tumor. These tumors may be of precancerous, benign or malignant type. Such growths in the patients’ large intestines result in polyps.

How Long Does It Take A Polyp To Turn Into Cancer?

How Long Does It Take A Polyp To Turn Into Cancer?

Colon cancer problems develop from precancerous polyps, which grow large and convert into cancer. Doctors believe that small precancerous polyp requires about 10-years period to grow and convert into cancer.

Polyps associated with colorectal cancer are removable before they convert into cancer. However, it is the prime responsibility of a patient to undergo for an appropriate colorectal cancer screening to prevent the problem of colon cancer development. Other than this, if individuals have a history of colon cancer or adenomas problem, they should make sure to discuss about it with the doctor early, as they may require starting with the screening process at the young age.


  1. American Cancer Society. (2021). Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Colorectal Cancer. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colon-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20353669
  3. Cancer Research UK. (2021). Stages of Bowel Cancer. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/bowel-cancer/stages
  4. American Society of Clinical Oncology. (2020). Colorectal Cancer: Stages and Grades. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/colorectal-cancer/stages-and-grades
  5. Cleveland Clinic. (2021). Colorectal Cancer: Polyps and Prevention. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17867-colorectal-cancer-polyps-prevention
  6. Cancer.Net. (2020). Colorectal Cancer: Statistics. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/colorectal-cancer/statistics
  7. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2011). Colorectal Cancer: Diagnosis and Management. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg131
  8. American Society of Clinical Oncology. (2021). Colorectal Cancer: Risk Factors and Prevention. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/colorectal-cancer/risk-factors-and-prevention

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 21, 2023

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