What Are the Different Types of Colon Polyps?

Most colon polyps are noncancerous or benign.
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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 16 August 2014
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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.


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