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Colon Polyps - Pictures, Treatment, Types, Symptoms, Causes

Updated on January 4, 2014


What are Colon Polyps?

These are small clumps of fleshy tissue, or cells that form on the lining of your colon. The colon is also referred to as your large intestine. It is quite common to get these polyps and as you age the chances of having these increases. Most of the colon polyps are not cancerous but in time some of them can turn into cancer. If the polyps are smaller than a pea they usually cause no harm. If the polyps are larger these are the ones that can become cancerous. In the United States the second leading cause of death is colon cancer. This is why it is very important that both men and women have regular checkups so if they have these polyps you can have them removed no matter the size.


There are several different types of colon polyps but there are some that are more susceptible to developing into cancer than other types. Here are three of the different types of colon polyps.

Hyperplastic colon polyps

This type is usually very small and is most often found in the descending part of your colon and your rectum. The cells of this type of colon polyps do increase at an abnormal rate but usually do not turn into cancer.

Inflammatory colon polyps

This type will commonly form as a complication of a gastrointestinal disorder such as ulcerative colitis. When you have this disease you will usually have inflammation or swelling and ulcers. You may also have inflammatory colon polyps if you have Crohn’s disease.

Adenomatous colon polyps

This type of polyps is often referred to as adenomas. Many of the polyps are of this type and many of the polyps that are cancerous or malignant are to found in this type of colon polyps. These colon polyps can become quire large.


The symptoms a person might have with colon polyps will differ according to the size and where the polyps are located. The smaller size the fewer symptoms you will have. The symptoms a person may have with colon polyps can include:

  • Having the presence of red streaks in your stool. You may also have black stool. Both of these can be an indicator of colon polyps. You could also have these types of stools if you take anti-diarrhea medications or iron supplements so to make sure what is causing these types of stools you should be examined by your physician.
  • Having rectal bleeding when having a bowel movement is a common symptom of colon polyps. This bleeding is like a bright red discharge when you have a bowel movement because the polyps can become irritated when you have a bowel movement. Rectal bleeding could also be the result of fissures and/or hemorrhoids. Again, you should see your physician to find out what the exact cause is.
  • Having a sudden change in your bowel habits, especially if it continues past seven days
  • Having bowel movements that are obstructed bowel movements that are painful.
  • Having abdominal cramps that are painful
  • Constipation and/ diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

There are some people who have colon polyps will have no symptoms at all. If you are having any of these symptoms you should check with your physician because finding colon polyps in the early stages can usually be removed safely and completely.


The main cause of colon polyps are the result of have abnormal cell growths. These abnormal cell growths do not divide and grow in the orderly way like the healthy counterpoints. The abnormal cell growths will cause mutations in the genes and will keep dividing without having the need for new cells. These small colon polyps are usually attached to what is called a stalk and are identified as one the three types mentioned in this article. There are also trigger facts that can increase you risk of developing malignant colon polyps which are:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Smoking
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle and avoiding exercise
  • Inherited gene mutations
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis which an inherited in which there are numerous polyps that form in the epithelium of your large intestine, The polyps will usually start out being benign and then transfer into colon cancer
  • Gardner’s syndrome which is the dominant form of polyposis that is characterized by having tumors outside your colon together with multiple polyps in your colon.
  • Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) which is a genetic condition that gives you a high risk of developing colon cancer and other cancers. It is considered a type of cancer syndrome.
  • Being overweight
  • Eating a lot of fatty foods
  • Having a family member who has colon polyps or cancer of their large intestine.


There are several screening methods that a physician can use to check you for colon polyps. The most common test that a physician uses is the digital rectal exam. This is where your physician will use their gloved hand to feel your rectum for any abnormalities. Unfortunately this test will only be able to find any large polyps in your rectum. To see if there are any small colon polyps the physician will use another test that enables them to explore higher up in your large intestine. One test that a physician may use is a barium enema (BE) to see if you have any smaller polyps. It is a very unpleasant test as it requires a barium enema to be inserted into your rectum where it will spread and coat your entire bowel. It will make your intestines look white in the x-rays in the picture. If there are any polyps the will appear darker in the x-ray picture.

The physician can also perform a sigmoidoscopy test. This test will let your physician peek inside of your large intestine using a sigmoidoscope. This is a tube that has a small video camera and light in it and it is flexible. The physician will insert it up through your rectum and will allow your physician to see the last third of your large intestine. If your physician seed any colon polyps the will generally elect to conduct a full colonoscopy to see your entire large intestine.


If you have any colon polyps they can be treated if diagnosed in time. Some of the ways that they can treat colon polyps included:

  • Using a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy to target the polyp stalk to stop it from developing further. During either of these procedures the surgeon will snare them with a wire loop that will also cut the stalk of the polyp and then to prevent bleeding the surgeon will cauterize it.
  • If the polyps are small enough they can be burned or cauterized with an electrical current.
  • Removing the polyps, which is called having a polypectomy done
  • Doing a proctocolectomy to remove your entire colon. During this procedure the surgeon will construct a pouch of out of the end of your small intestine called the ileum and then attach it to your anus.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms that could indicate that you may have colon polyps schedule an appointment with your physician to have it checked out.


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