Doctor's Notes on Colon Polyps Symptoms, Causes, Types, and Cancer Risk
Colon polyps are usually benign (noncancerous), slow-growing tumors that arise from the epithelial cells in the colon (large intestine). Benign colon polyps do not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body (metastasize) and they are common in many people and increase in occurrence as people age. The cause of colon polyps is unknown but risk factors that may contribute to colon polyp development include a family history, diet, genetics, and older age.
Often colon polyps do not cause any symptoms. When symptoms of colon polyps do occur they may include rectal bleeding, anemia (fatigue, shortness of breath, skin pallor), diarrhea or constipation, decreased stool size, black stools, abdominal pain, nausea and/or vomiting, and intussusception (the colon folds into itself or telescopes). Pain is uncommon.
Colon Polyps Symptoms, Causes, Types, and Cancer Risk Symptoms
Most people with colon polyps do not have signs or symptoms; however, in people who do, the most common are:
Other signs and symptoms may include
Colon Polyps Symptoms, Causes, Types, and Cancer Risk Causes
The cause of colon polyps is unclear, but there are risk factors for developing them.
Colon polyps are usually divided into three groups or types:
- Hyerplastic colon polyps are benign protrusions, and comprise about 90% of polyps.
- Adenomas are colon polyps that usually are small, have a small potential for malignancy, and comprise about 10% of polyps. There are three three types ademomas, tubular adenoma, tubulovillous adenoma, and villous adenoma.
- Polyposis syndromes (a group of hereditary conditions that produce among other things, colon polyps) that include:
Most people with colon polyps (also termed colonic polyps) have no pain.
Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women in the U.S. Diet and adequate nutrition may play a role in cancer risk, especially for colorectal cancer. Healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables and limiting your intake of red and processed meats may help lower your risk of cancer. Getting enough exercise, limiting alcohol, avoiding tobacco use, and maintaining a healthy weight also may help protect you against cancer. Learn how to live a cancer prevention lifestyle that includes adding anti-cancer foods to your diet and eliminating foods and beverages that promote the growth of cancer cells.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.