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What are the Different Types of Colon Polyps?

By Nat Robinson
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

A colon polyp is a group of cells which form a growth, known as a polyp, in the colon or large intestine. Many people get colon polyps. As individuals age, their chance of getting a polyp increases. Factors such as a history of colon polyps or cancer in the family and maintaining a high-fat diet may also contribute to the likeliness of getting these growths. There are different types of colon polyps, with some types being more susceptible to develop into cancer than others.

Hyperplastic polyps are one type of polyp found in the colon. They are usually very small in appearance. These kinds of colon polyps are most often found in the rectum and the descending part of the colon. The cells in this type of polyp increase at an abnormal rate. Still, hyperplastic polyps do not commonly turn into cancer.

Inflammatory polyps are types of colon polyps which commonly form as a complication of a gastroinestinal disorder. For instance, an individual with ulcerative colitis may get these types of polyps in colon. Commonly, ulcerative colitis causes ulcers and swelling or inflammation in the colon. Polyps may form in this area due to the inflammation. Additionally, they may also be found in a person with Crohn's disease.

Another type of colon polyps are adenomatous polyps. Often, these are called adenomas. Generally, the majority of all colon polyps are adenomatous. In addition, most polyps that are malignant or cancerous are found to be in the adenomatous category. Adenoma colon polyps can grow quite large.

Ordinarily, colon polyps will not cause any distinctive symptoms. Sometimes, frequent constipation or diarrhea may indicate a problem in the gastrointestinal tract, such as a colon polyp. Some people may also find small amounts of blood in their stool. Although, it is not very common, abdominal pain can be a symptom as well. Typically, one of these gastrointestinal upsets will lead a person to a doctor and tests, which may uncover a colon polyp.

Most colon polyps are noncancerous or benign, although thorough medical tests will generally be done to confirm this. To distinguish the different types of colon polyps, a person will commonly undergo a colonoscopy. In this diagnostic test, a doctor inserts a colonoscope through the rectum and into the colon to examine the organ. During the procedure, tissue samples will be taken and small colon polyps may be removed for an analysis. The results of the samples will inform the doctor if the patient will need any additional treatment, such as surgery to treat the colon polyps.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon1002089 — On Sep 03, 2019

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome ) does not increase one's risk for colon cancer. Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease are also different disorders. The latter are Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis, not typical IBS. Those bleed !

By mobilian33 — On Sep 16, 2014

I have a friend who has irritable bowel syndrome. Almost anything he eats can upset his stomach and lead to diarrhea. I guess it goes without saying that this condition can lead to some awkward situations, but what some people don't know is that the condition can also be dangerous.

My friend has to go to the doctor several times a year and have the test that checks for polyps of cancer in his intestines. So far he has had some polyps removed, but none of them have been cancerous, so he is lucky in that regard. However, living with the condition is no piece of cake.

By Animandel — On Sep 16, 2014

@Laotionne - If you are concerned that chronic diarrhea might make you more susceptible to certain types of colon polyps then this is something you should speak with your doctor about.

Most people are advised to get regular colonoscopies once they reach 40 years of age or 50 years of age, but since you have a family history of a potentially dangerous colon condition your doctor might want you to start with the tests earlier. Colon cancer treatment is so much less invasive and so much more successful when you catch the polyps early.

By Laotionne — On Sep 15, 2014

Lactose intolerance in common in my family. For those of you not familiar with this condition, it is mostly associated with a person not being able to digest dairy products normally. Some people get really serious cases of diarrhea when they drink milk, eat ice cream or other dairy foods.

This chronic diarrhea can lead to the inflammation and swelling in the colon like mentioned in this article, and that's what makes me worry that people with this condition might be more likely to get polyps in the colon that develop into colon cancer.

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