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
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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 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:
- 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.
- Colonoscopy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/colonoscopy.
- 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 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.
- Endoscopic removal of large colon polyps. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/endoscopic-removal-of-large-colon-polyps.
- Polyps of the colon and rectum. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.fascrs.org/patients/diseases-and-conditions/a-z/polyps-of-the-colon-and-rectum.
- 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.
- Marcin Chwistek, MD
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