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
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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:
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:
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:
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