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Polyps in Colon: What You Need to Know

polyps in colon

The colon, also known as the large intestine, is a vital part of the digestive system. Situated in the abdomen, the colon plays an active role in processing and eliminating waste from the body.

The colon is lined with a thin layer of cells. Small growths can form on this lining. These small growths are known as colon polyps.

What Do Colon Polyps in Colon Look Like?

Colon polyps come in two distinct shapes: flat (sessile) and pedunculated.

Sessile polyps lie flush against the colon’s inner lining and are more prevalent than used to be thought. They can be a bit more challenging to detect during colon cancer screening.

In contrast, pedunculated polyps resemble mushroom-like growths attached to the colon’s mucous membrane by a slender, elongated stalk and are easier to see during a colonoscopy.

Are Polyps Dangerous?

Polyps themselves may seem like harmless growths. However, it is important to understand they do have the potential to become cancerous if they are not removed.

Types of Polyps in Colon

There are several types of polyps, each with distinct characteristics and health implications.

Adenomatous (Tubular Adenoma)

About 70 percent of all colon polyps fall into this category. Adenomatous polyps are the most common type and are tested for cancer when found. While only a small percentage may become cancerous, regular screening can help detect and remove them before that happens.


Hyperplastic polyps are small and considered extremely low risk for becoming cancerous. They are commonly removed during screening to ensure they are not cancerous.


Serrated polyps may become cancerous depending on their size and location in the colon. Small, serrated polyps in the lower colon are rarely malignant, but larger, sessile serrated polyps in the upper colon are precancerous.


Inflammatory polyps are often associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and are benign. They develop as a result of chronic inflammation in the colon and generally do not pose a cancer risk.

Villous Adenoma (Tubulovillous Adenoma)

Approximately 15 percent of polyps detected in colon cancer screening fall into this category. Villous adenoma polyps carry a higher risk of turning cancerous and are often sessile, making removal more challenging.

Complex Polyps

Complex polyps are those with certain features, such as:

  • Being larger than two centimeters
  • Located in a challenging spot for removal
  • Deemed unsafe for standard removal techniques

In these cases, specialized procedures and surgeries may be necessary to ensure complete removal and reduce the risk of cancer.

Risk Factors for Polyps in Colon

Several factors can increase your risk of developing colon polyps, including:

  • Age 45 and older
  • A family history of polyps or colon cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • A high-fat, low-fiber diet
  • Tobacco or alcohol use
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity

Colon Polyp Detection and Cancer Prevention

These polyps are common but not always cancerous. Understanding the different types, risk factors, and prevention strategies associated with these growths is important.

One of the most effective ways to prevent colon cancer is through regular screenings, typically done through a colonoscopy.

During a colonoscopy, doctors can identify and remove polyps on the spot, reducing the risk of them becoming malignant. Smaller polyps can often be removed in one session, while larger or more complex ones may require additional procedures for complete removal.

Regular screenings, a healthy lifestyle, and early detection are key to maintaining good colon health.

If you have an increased risk of colon polyps, consult with one of our specialists to determine the best screening and prevention plan. A proactive approach can make a significant difference in your long-term health.

If you’re 45 or older, or have a history of colon polyps, it’s time for a colonoscopy – schedule today!

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