Colon polyps are growths on the lining of the colon or rectum. The colon and the rectum are parts of the large intestine.
The two 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.
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The cause of most colon polyps is not known. Genes may play a role.
These inherited conditions may also cause polyps to form:
- Familial adenomatous polyposis
- Peutz–Jeghers syndrome
This problem is more common in people who are 50 years of age and older. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Polyps do not cause problems in most people. Other people may have:
- Problems passing stool
- Rectal bleeding
- Belly pain or cramping—rare
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:
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.
American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
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.
Colonoscopy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/colonoscopy. 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.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD Last Updated: 11/23/2020