What are colon polyps?
A colon polyp is a growth on the surface of the colon, also called the large intestine. Sometimes, a person can have more than one colon polyp. Colon polyps can be raised or flat.
The large intestine is the long, hollow tube at the end of your digestive tract. The large intestine absorbs water from stool and changes it from a liquid to a solid. Stool is the waste that passes through the rectum and anus as a bowel movement.
Are colon polyps cancerous?
Some colon polyps are benign, which means they are not cancer. But some types of polyps may already be cancer or can become cancer. Flat polyps can be smaller and harder to see and are more likely to be cancer than raised polyps. Polyps can usually be removed during colonoscopy—the test used to check for colon polyps.
Who gets colon polyps?
Anyone can get colon polyps, but certain people are more likely to get them than others. You may have a greater chance of getting polyps if:
- you’re 50 years of age or older
- you’ve had polyps before
- someone in your family has had polyps
- someone in your family has had cancer of the large intestine, also called colon cancer
- you’ve had uterine or ovarian cancer before age 50
You may also be more likely to get colon polyps if you:
- eat a lot of fatty foods
- drink alcohol
- don’t exercise
- weigh too much
What are the symptoms of colon polyps?
Most people with colon polyps do not have symptoms. Often, people don’t know they have one until the doctor finds it during a regular checkup or while testing for something else.
But some people do have symptoms, such as:
- bleeding from the anus. The anus is the opening at the end of the digestive tract where stool leaves the body. You might notice blood on your underwear or on toilet paper after you’ve had a bowel movement.
- constipation or diarrhea that lasts more than a week.
- blood in the stool. Blood can make stool look black, or it can show up as red streaks in the stool.