Polyposis coli

Presence of several intestinal polyps, particularly in the large intestine (colon). The term usually refers to hereditary polyposis, a rare condition in which the whole mucous membrane of the large intestine is covered with polyps from puberty. Symptoms start at the same time; they include slight diarrhoea, often with blood loss. In the course of time (usually by about the age of 30 to 35), the polyps show a marked tendency to become malignant; several tumours often occur at the same time. After diagnosis by coloscopy the only treatment is the whole or partial removal of the colon, possibly supplemented with colostomy. If a decision is made to join the small intestine to the rectum, thus allowing faeces to be passed in the normal manner, regular checks are necessary to find any new polyps in the rectum, which must be cauterized. If the condition is discovered in one member of a family, it is important that the other members be examined.