Colon polyps are tiny growths that form on the inside of the large intestine (also known as the colon). Polyps are very common. Roughly one-third to one-half of all adults have them by the time they are 50 years old. They do not usually cause symptoms. But some polyps can be or become cancer, so doctors sometimes remove them.
Colon polyps do not usually cause symptoms.
Polyps are very common in men and women of all races who live in industrialized countries, suggesting that dietary and environmental factors play a role in their development.
1. Lifestyle — Although the exact causes are not completely understood, lifestyle risk factors include the following:
3. Family history and genetics
Doctors usually find colon polyps when they are doing screening tests to check for colon or rectal cancer. Cancer screening tests are tests that are done to try and find cancer early, before a person has symptoms. The screening tests for colon and rectal cancer include:
Doctors remove polyps using the same tools they use for a colonoscopy. They can remove polyps either by snipping them off with a special cutting tool or by catching the polyps in a noose. Most polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy. But sometimes, large polyps need to be removed at a later time.
You might need to have a colonoscopy every few years to check for more polyps. In some people polyps come back. And if you had the kind of polyps that could become cancer, your doctor will want to remove them as they appear. Also, if the polyps you had removed were the kind that could become cancer, people in your family might need to be checked for polyps and colon cancer, too.
Depending on your situation, your doctor might suggest genetic testing. This can show if your polyps are related to an abnormal gene that runs in families.
To reduce your chances of getting polyps or colon cancer: