Colon polyps (patient information)

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Colon polyps


What are the symptoms?

What are the causes?

Who is at highest risk?


When to seek urgent medical care?

Treatment options

Where to find medical care for Colon polyps?


What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Possible complications

Colon polyps On the Web

Ongoing Trials at Clinical

Images of Colon polyps

Videos on Colon polyps

FDA on Colon polyps

CDC on Colon polyps

Colon polyps in the news

Blogs on Colon polyps

Directions to Hospitals Treating Colon polyps

Risk calculators and risk factors for Colon polyps

For the WikiDoc page for this topic, click here

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Sadaf Sharfaei M.D.[2]


A polyp is an extra piece of tissue that grows inside your body. Colon polyps grow in the large intestine, or colon. Most polyps are not dangerous. However, some polyps may turn into cancer or already be cancer. To be safe, doctors remove polyps and test them. Polyps can be removed when a doctor examines the inside of the large intestine during a colonoscopy.

Anyone can get polyps, but certain people are more likely than others. You may have a greater chance of getting polyps if you

  • Are over age 50
  • Have had polyps before
  • Have a family member with polyps
  • Have a family history of colon cancer

Most colon polyps do not cause symptoms. If you have symptoms, they may include blood on your underwear or on toilet paper after a bowel movement, blood in your stool, or constipation or diarrhea lasting more than a week.

What are the Symptoms of Colon Polyps?

Polyps usually do not have symptoms. When present, symptoms may include:

  • Blood in the stools
  • Change in bowel habit
  • Fatigue caused by losing blood over time

What Causes Colon Polyps?

Polyps of the colon and rectum are most often benign. This means they are not a cancer and do not spread. You may have one or many polyps. They become more common with age. There are many types of polyps.

Adenomatous polyps are a common type. They are gland-like growths that develop on the mucous membrane that lines the large intestine. They are also called adenomas and are most often one of the following:

  • Tubular polyp, which protrudes out in the lumen (open space) of the colon
  • Villous adenoma, which is sometimes flat and spreading, and is more likely to become a cancer

When adenomas become cancerous, they are known as adenocarcinomas. Adenocarcinomas are cancers that originate in glandular tissue cells. Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of colorectal cancer.

Other types of polyps are:

  • Hyperplastic polyp, which rarely, if ever, develop into cancer
  • Serrated polyp, which is less common, but may develop into cancer over time

A small number of people with polyps may also be linked to some inherited disorders, including:

  • Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
  • Gardner syndrome (a type of FAP)
  • Juvenile polyposis (disease that causes many benign growths in the intestine, usually before 20 years old)
  • Lynch syndrome (HNPCC, a disease that raises the chance of many types of cancer, including in the intestine)
  • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (disease that causes intestinal polyps, usually in the small intestine and usually benign)

Who is at Highest Risk?

Polyps bigger than 1 centimeter (cm) have a higher cancer risk than polyps smaller than 1 centimeter. Risk factors include:

  • Age
  • Family history of colon cancer or polyps
  • A type of polyp called villous adenoma


  • The health care provider will perform a physical exam. A large polyp may be felt during a rectal exam.
  • Most polyps are found with the following tests:
    • Barium enema (rarely done)
    • Colonoscopy
    • Sigmoidoscopy
    • Stool test for hidden (occult) blood
    • Virtual colonoscopy
    • Stool DNA test
Barium enema Source: [1]
Colonoscopy Source: By Euchiasmus, translated by Rage against - Image:Colonoscopy.jpg, Public Domain[2]

When to Seek Urgent Medical Care?

Call your provider if you have:

  • Blood in a bowel movement
  • Change in bowel habit

Treatment Options

Colorectal polyps should be removed because some can develop into cancer. In most cases, the polyps may be removed during a colonoscopy.

For people with adenomatous polyps, new polyps can appear in the future. You should have a repeat colonoscopy usually 1 to 10 years later, depending on:

  • Your age and general health
  • Number of polyps you had
  • Size and type of the polyps
  • Family history of polyps or cancer

In rare cases, when polyps are very likely to turn into cancer or too large to remove during colonoscopy, the doctor will recommend a colectomy. This is surgery to remove part of the colon that has the polyps.

Where to find Medical Care for Colon Polyps?

Medical care for (disease name) can be found here.


To reduce your risk of developing polyps:

  • Eat foods low in fat and eat more fruits, vegetables, and fiber.
  • Do not smoke or drink alcohol in excess.
  • Maintain a normal body weight.
  • Get regular exercise.

Your provider can order a colonoscopy or other screening tests:

  • These tests help prevent colon cancer by finding and removing polyps before they become cancer. This may reduce the chance of developing colon cancer, or at least help catch it in its most treatable stage.
  • Most people should begin these tests at age 50. Those with a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps may need to be screened at an earlier age or more often.

Taking aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen, or similar medicines may help reduce the risk for new polyps. Be aware that these medicines can have serious side effects if taken for a long time. Side effects include bleeding in the stomach or colon and heart disease. Talk with your provider before taking these medicines.

What to Expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Outlook is excellent if the polyps are removed. Polyps that are not removed can develop into cancer over time.

Possible Complications

Polyps might turn into colorectal cancer.



  1. "".
  2. "File:Colonoscopia.jpg - Wikimedia Commons". External link in |title= (help)

Template:WH Template:WS