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Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

by EBSCO Medical Review Board

Definition

Colon polyps are growths on the lining of the colon or rectum. The colon and the rectum are parts of the large intestine.

The 2 most common types are:

  • Adenomatous—Can become larger over time and may or may not turn into cancer
  • Hyperplastic—Do not get bigger and rarely turn into cancer
Colon Polyp
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Causes

The cause of most colon polyps is not known. Genes may play a role.

These inherited conditions may also cause polyps to form:

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in people aged 50 and older. Other things that may raise the risk are:

Symptoms

Polyps do not cause problems in most people. Other people may have:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Problems passing stool
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Belly pain or cramping—rare

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. A digital rectal exam may also be done.

A test may be done to look for signs of blood in your stool.

The large intestine may need to be viewed. This can be done with:

Treatment

Polyps are often removed while a person has a flexible sigmoidoscopy.

Larger polyps are more likely to become cancer. Surgery may be needed to remove very large polyps.

Prevention

To lower the risk of this problem:

RESOURCES

American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons  https://www.fascrs.org 

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases  https://www.niddk.nih.gov 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology  https://www.cag-acg.org 

Canadian Digestive Health Foundation  http://www.cdhf.ca 

References

Colonoscopy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/colonoscopy. Accessed November 24, 2020.

Colon polyps. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/colon-polyps. Accessed November 24, 2020.

Eating, diet, & nutrition for colon polyps. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/colon-polyps/eating-diet-nutrition. Accessed November 24, 2020.

Endoscopic removal of large colon polyps. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/endoscopic-removal-of-large-colon-polyps. Accessed November 24, 2020.

Polyps of the colon and rectum. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.fascrs.org/patients/disease-condition/polyps-colon-and-rectum. Accessed November 24, 2020.

Saunders BP, Tsiamoulos ZP. Endoscopic mucosal resection and endoscopic submucosal dissection of large colonic polyps. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 Aug;13(8):486-496.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2020
  • Update Date: 04/20/2021