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Dr. Anne Peery was principal investigator for a national study that has confirmed incidences of surgery for nonmalignant colorectal polyps are increasing when there are other options to surgery. She was featured with Dr. Ian Grimm in a WRAL news story, along with a patient who appreciated a less invasive solution.

Dr. Anne Peery was interviewed by WRAL, discussing the increase in surgeries.
Patient Earl Lange shared his story in a WRAL interview.

Dr. Anne Peery is principal investigator of new research published in Gastroenterology that confirms the incidence of surgery for nonmalignant colorectal polyps is increasing. From 2000 through 2014, there were 1,230,458 surgeries for nonmalignant colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer in the US. Among those surgeries, 25% were performed for nonmalignant polyps, with incidences increasing among individuals age 20 to 79, in men and women, including all races and ethnicities.

A colonoscopy is a commonly used screening tool that can effectively reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Precancerous growths–known as polyps–are frequently found during the examination, and most are easily removed as part of the screening procedure. But if a polyp is particularly large or is otherwise too complicated to remove during a screening colonoscopy, then arrangements often need to be made to have the polyp removed at another session, after appropriate discussion and planning. Unfortunately, many patients are offered surgery as an option for treating these polyps, which can be risky and expensive, and should generally be avoided if a less invasive approach is possible.

“We need to reassess how we are classifying these polyps and what we communicate to patients,” said Peery, assistant professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology. “We also want to manage unrealistic expectations in the field of gastroenterology, that when patients come in for a colonoscopy they understand that we may not recommended doing everything at once. It’s also important to let patients know there are others solutions for removing large polyps.”

Patient Earl Lange was thankful to avoid surgery.

Lange drove to UNC Medical Center from Southport, NC, when he learned that Dr. Ian Grimm, professor of medicine and director of GI procedures, could easily remove a large polyp that had been discovered after his routine colonoscopy.

Earl Lange returns to UNC Medical Center


“My doctor suggested I have surgery, but I didn’t want to have one-third of my colon removed,” said Lange. “I went to another doctor and got the same recommendation. My wife did some researching and learned about ESD procedures at UNC Medical Center. The day after, I was back to eating my usual way, instead of having to face a 4-6 week recovery period.”

Lange was so satisfied with his experience, he came back to UNC Medical Center to meet Grimm for a news interview. The WRAL news story aired Friday, May 11, 2018, and can be accessed here.

“Many physicians are not comfortable removing these polyps in a colonoscopy,” says Grimm in the interview. “Patients are referred to someone like myself, who specializes in removing these difficult polyps.”

After a sabbatical in Japan, Grimm brought highly specialized skills in endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) back to UNC Medical Center. An article about the novel solutions he offers patients can be found here.

The UNC department of medicine’s division of gastroenterology and hepatology is the premier academic practice in North Carolina and among the top programs nationwide. A full list of clinical services can be found here.

In addition to Peery, study authors included Katherine S. Cools, MD, Paula D. Strassle, MSPH, Sarah K. McGill, MD, Seth Crockett, MD, and Ian Grimm, MD. Find more information about the study here.