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Colon Polyps


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


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:


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

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • 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.


To lower the risk of this problem:


American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases


Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

Canadian Digestive Health Foundation


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.

Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD  Last Updated: 4/20/2021