What is a colon polyp? What are the symptoms of colon polyps?


Colon polyps are, in some cases, precursors to colon cancer. Therefore, it is important to identify and remove colon polyps early. People at high risk of developing colon polyps should undergo regular colon screening.

Colon polyps

Colon polyps are the accumulation of cells on the inner surface of the small intestine (colon). This condition may be due to changes in the genetic information associated with cell division. During the normal process, cells divide, mature, and die. However, in colon polyps, cells do not die, so there are accumulations that lead to polyps.

Most polyps are non-cancerous and harmless. However, some polyps increase the risk of colon cancer. Colon cancer can be fatal if it is found at an advanced stage. People at high risk for colon polyps should have regular colon examinations. Your doctor may advise you to remove colon polyps to reduce your risk of cancer. Colorectal polyps come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be raised, flat, or have stems.

Types of colon polyps

There are different types of colon polyps. The categories are based on shape, size, and potential to cause colon cancer. The types of colon polyps are:

  • Adenomatous polyp: These are the most common types of polyps. Unfortunately, these polyps also increase the risk of developing colon cancer.
  • Hyperplastic polyps: These polyps are unlikely to develop into colon cancer. Therefore, it is important to make a clear distinction between adenomatous polyps and hyperplastic polyps during cancer screening.
  • Other polyps: Various other types of polyps can also occur in the colon. These are inflammatory polyps and juvenile polyps.

There are two main categories of polyps, neoplastic and non-neoplastic. Neoplastic polyps are adenomatous and serrated types. In general, the larger the polyp, the higher the risk of cancer, especially for neoplastic polyps. Non-neoplastic polyps include hamartomatous polyps, hyperplastic polyps, and inflammatory polyps. Usually, these types of polyps do not become cancerous.

Symptoms of colon polyps

In most cases, colon polyps do not cause symptoms. Doctors usually diagnose this condition while examining the colon for other conditions or during regular colonoscopy. However, some people have the following symptoms of colon polyps:

  • pain: You may feel pain from colon polyps. This is because polyps can partially or completely block the colon and cause abdominal cramps.
  • Stool color change: Also, the color of the stool may change. Red stools may be visible due to the presence of blood. If the polyp is proximal and bleeding, the color of the stool may also be black.
  • Changes in bowel habits: It may also change your normal bowel habits. Large polyps secrete water into the digestive tract and can cause diarrhea. If the polyp is large enough to partially or completely occlude the colon, you may experience constipation.
  • bleeding: Colon polyps can cause rectal bleeding. However, malignant tumors and hemorrhoids can also cause rectal bleeding.
  • anemia: Colon polyps can cause iron deficiency anemia. The cause is bleeding of polyps. In some cases, the blood may not look like stool. Doctors check for occult blood in the stool to confirm its presence.
  • You may also experience a variety of anemia-related symptoms, such as pale skin, increased heart rate, weakness, and fainting.
  • Intussusception: This is a condition in which one part of the intestine slips into another or moves with a telescope. In rare cases, colon polyps can lead to intussusception. Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain may occur in this condition.

When do you see a doctor?

If you are at high risk of developing colorectal polyps, you should carefully monitor your symptoms. Book an appointment with your doctor:

  • If you have abdominal pain.
  • If there is a change in the color of the stool.
  • If your bowel habits change suddenly.
  • If you feel weak, fainting, or have light skin.
  • If you experience nausea, vomiting, or bloating.

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Causes of colon polyps

There is no information on how colon polyps develop. It can be due to environmental or genetic factors, or the interaction between both environmental and genetic factors. Colon polyps can occur due to mutations in cells in the inner wall of the intestine. Due to the mutation, cell accumulation occurs, leading to polyps.

Risk factors for colon polyps

The exact reason why colon polyps occur is unknown. Certain factors increase the risk of colon polyps. These factors are:

  • Over 50 years old.
  • Overweight or obese.
  • Underlying medical conditions such as ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • Sedentary life.
  • Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes.
  • Smoking and drinking.
  • If you have a family history of colon polyps.
  • Hereditary diseases such as familial adenomatous polyposis, MYH-related polyposis (MAP), Lynch syndrome, Peutz-Jegers syndrome, hyperplastic polyposis syndrome, Gardner’s syndrome.

Treatment of colon polyps

Removing polyps is the most preferred treatment for this condition. Your doctor may advise you to remove all colon polyps found during intestinal screening. Below are various methods for removing colon polyps.

  • Minimally invasive surgery: During minimally invasive surgery, the surgeon can remove colon polyps with the help of a laparoscope. Laparoscopic surgery effectively removes colorectal polyps.
  • Polypectomy: During this procedure, the doctor injects fluid into the colon under the polyp. This lifts the polyp and the doctor removes it without harming the surrounding tissue.
  • Proctocolectomy: If the colon polyp is due to a genetic condition, your doctor may advise you to have a proctocolectomy with a resection of the colon and rectum.

Complications of colon polyps

Complications of colon polyps depend on the size and likelihood of causing colon cancer. Some complications are:

  • Intestinal obstruction
  • bleeding
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Colon cancer
  • Severe anemia

Prevention of colon polyps

You can prevent the development of colon polyps in the following ways:

  • Vitamin D and Calcium Supplements: Studies have shown that vitamin D and calcium supplements reduce the risk of developing colon polyps. However, the mechanism for reducing polyps remains unclear.
  • Healthy lifestyle: You should follow a healthy lifestyle. Avoid drinking or smoking. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
  • monitor: Talk to your doctor if you are at high risk of developing colon polyps. Get regular monitoring to reduce your risk of colon cancer.


Colon polyps are the accumulation of cells in the lining of the colon. Polyps can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They increase the risk of colon cancer. Symptoms of colon polyps are bloody stools, changes in bowel habits, anemia, and abdominal pain.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What foods increase the risk of colon polyps?

Certain foods increase the risk of colon polyps. These include processed meats, fried foods, beef and pork, sausages, lunch meats, and hot dogs.

  1. How long does a colon polyp turn into colon cancer?

There is no accurate information about when polyps turn into cancer. However, it may take 10 to 15 years. That’s why doctors recommend having a colonoscopy every 10 years.

  1. Can colon polyps recur after removal?

In some cases, polyps may recur after removal. People with hereditary disorders have a higher recurrence rate.

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