|What you need to know about colon polyps.|
What are colon polyps?
A polyp* is extra tissue that grows inside your body. Colon polyps grow in the large intestine. The large intestine, also called the colon, is part of your digestive system. It's a long, hollow tube at the end of your digestive tract where your body makes and stores stool.
*Medical terms are defined in the glossary.
Are polyps dangerous?
Most polyps are not dangerous. Most are benign, which means they are not cancer. But over time, some types of polyps can turn into cancer. Usually, polyps that are smaller than a pea aren't harmful. But larger polyps could someday become cancer or may already be cancer. To be safe, doctors remove all polyps and test them.
Who gets polyps?
Anyone can get polyps, but certain people are more likely than others. You may have a greater chance of getting polyps if
You may also be more likely to get polyps if you
What are the symptoms?
Most small polyps don't cause symptoms. Often, people don't know they have one until the doctor finds it during a regular checkup or while testing them for something else.
But some people do have symptoms like these:
If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor to find out what the problem is.
How does the doctor test for polyps?
The doctor can use four tests to check for polyps:
Who should get tested for polyps?
Talk to your doctor about getting tested for polyps if
How are polyps treated?
The doctor will remove the polyp. Sometimes, the doctor takes it out during sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Or the doctor may decide to operate through the abdomen. The polyp is then tested for cancer.
If you've had polyps, the doctor may want you to get tested regularly in the future.
How can I prevent polyps?
Doctors don't know of any one sure way to prevent polyps. But you might be able to lower your risk of getting them if you
Eating more calcium and folate can also lower your risk of getting polyps. Some foods that are rich in calcium are milk, cheese, and broccoli. Some foods that are rich in folate are chickpeas, kidney beans, and spinach.
Points to remember
For more information
You can learn more about polyps from these groups:
National Cancer Institute
Abdomen (AB-duh-men): The area between the chest and the hips. It contains the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and spleen.
Anus (AY-nus): The opening through which stool leaves the body.
Benign (buh-NINE): Not cancerous.
Colonoscopy (koh-luh-NAW-skuh-pee): A test to look inside the entire large intestine. The doctor uses a flexible tube that contains a light and a tiny video camera. This device is called a colonoscope.
Large intestine: A long, hollow tube in your body that makes and stores stool. Also called the colon.
Polyp (PAH-lip): An extra piece of tissue that grows inside the body.
Rectum (REK-tum): The last section of the large intestine, leading to the anus.
Sigmoidoscopy (SIG-moy-DAW-skuh-pee): A test to look inside the lower section of the large intestine. The doctor uses a flexible tube that contains a light and a tiny video camera. The device is called a sigmoidoscope.
Stool: The solid waste that passes through the rectum as a bowel movement.