Colon Polyps | Symptoms & Treatments | Medstar Health


A colorectal polyp is a usually noncancerous growth that forms on of the lining of the colon or rectum, most commonly as people age. Some types of polyps may develop into cancer over time, however; those polyps that are larger than one centimeter have a greater risk of doing so.

Polyps may also be associated with some inherited disorders, including:

  • Familial adenomatous polyposis
  • Gardner syndrome
  • Juvenile polyposis
  • Lynch syndrome (HNPCC)
  • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome

To reduce the risk of developing polyps, physicians recommend:

  • Eating a diet low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables and fiber
  • Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol intake
  • Maintaining a normal body weight


Dr Mark Real talks with a patient during an office visit at MedStar Health.

Risk factors

Risk factors for the development of colon polyps include a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps. Other risk factors include a low fiber diet and a diet high in proceeds and fatty foods. Polyps may also be associated with some inherited disorders, including: Familial adenomatous polyposis, Gardner syndrome, Juvenile polyposis, Lynch syndrome (HNPCC), and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome.


Usually polyps are discovered and removed during a routine or diagnostic colonoscopy. Colonoscopies are recommended as a way to prevent colon cancer; when performed regularly (usually suggested for people over 50, though those with a family history of colon cancer or polyps may need to be screened earlier) they can aid in diagnosing colon cancer at an early and treatable stage. Other tests that show polyps include: Rectal examination, stool test, Barium enema, Sigmoidoscopy, and Virtual colonoscopy.


Almost all polyps can be removed endoscopically during a colonoscopy. Follow up colonoscopies may be recommended within three to five years to check for a recurrence.

On rare occasions, for polyps with a high potential of becoming cancerous, the health care provider may recommend a colectomy, or removal of a part of the colon.

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