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Colorectal polyps

Intestinal polyps; Polyps - colorectal; Adenomatous polyps; Hyperplastic polyps; Villous adenomas; Serrated polyp; Serrated adenoma

A colorectal polyp is a growth on the lining of the colon or rectum.

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Causes

Polyps of the colon and rectum are usually benign. This means they are not cancerous and do not spread. You may have one or many polyps. They become more common with age.

Common polyp types include:

Polyps bigger than 1 centimeter have a higher cancer risk than polyps smaller than 1 centimeter. Risk factors include:

Polyps may also be linked to some inherited disorders, including:

Symptoms

Polyps usually do not have symptoms. When present, symptoms may include:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. A large polyp may be felt during a rectal exam.

Most polyps are found with the following tests:

Treatment

Colorectal polyps should be removed because some can develop into cancer. In most cases, the polyps may be removed during a colonoscopy.

For people with adenomatous polyps, new polyps can appear in the future. You should have a repeat colonoscopy usually 1 to 10 years later, depending on:

In rare cases, when polyps are very likely to turn into cancer, the doctor will recommend a colectomy. This is surgery to remove part of the colon that has the polyps.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Outlook is excellent if the polyps are removed. Polyps that are not removed can develop into cancer over time.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have:

Prevention

To reduce your risk of developing polyps:

Your healthcare provider can order a colonoscopy or other screening tests:

Taking aspirin or similar medicines may help reduce the risk of new polyps. Be aware that these medicines can have serious side effects if taken for a long time. Side effects include bleeding in the stomach or colon and heart disease. Talk with your doctor before taking these medicines.

Related Information

Benign
Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
Virtual colonoscopy
Ileostomy
Total proctocolectomy and ileal - anal pouch
Total proctocolectomy with ileostomy

References

Cooper K, Squires H, Carroll C, et al. Chemoprevention of colorectal cancer: systematic review and economic evaluation. Health Technol Assess. 2010;14(32):1-206. PMID: 20594533 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20594533.

Itzkowitz SH, Potack J. Colonic polyps and polyposis syndromes. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 122.

Lieberman DA, Rex DK, Winawer SJ, et al., United States Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer. Guidelines for colonoscopy surveillance after screening and polypectomy: a consensus update by the US Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer. Gastroenterology. 2012;143:844-857. PMID: 22763141 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22763141.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines): Colorectal cancer screening. Version 1.2014. Available at: www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/colorectal_screening.pdf. Accessed December 12, 2014.

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Review Date: 12/12/2014  

Reviewed By: Jenifer K. Lehrer, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Frankford-Torresdale Hospital, Aria Health System, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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