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Colon Polyps

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


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

Nuclus factsheet image\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si2004.jpgNULL9NULL2008-12-102483807523_22569Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


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 who are at least 50 years of age. 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—this is rare


The doctor will ask about 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 the stool.

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

  • Colonoscopy—a biopsy may be taken and looked at in a lab.
  • CT colonography
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy—a biopsy may also be taken and looked at in a lab.
  • Capsule colonoscopy—A person swallows a device the size of a pill. The device has tiny cameras that can take pictures as it passes through the person's body.


Polyps are often removed while a person has a colonoscopy or 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:
  • Colon polyps. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
  • Eating, diet, & nutrition for colon polyps. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
  • Endoscopic removal of large colon polyps. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
  • Polyps of the colon and rectum. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons website. Available at:
  • Saunders, B.P. and Tsiamoulos, Z.P. Endoscopic mucosal resection and endoscopic submucosal dissection of large colonic polyps. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol, 2016; 13 (8): 486-496.
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.