Colon polyps are small growths in the colon. Polyps are common are usually due to uncontrolled growth of cells in the colon. The exact cause of most colon polyps is not known, but they are common in adults.
Over time, some types of polyps can turn into colon cancer. It usually takes many years for that to happen.
Colonic polyps are often asymptomatic and are found on screening tests. Screening tests may include faecal occult blood test, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy or special
CT scans depending on the screening programs. Colonoscopy has the advantage that most polyps can be removed at the same time
the test is performed. Screening has been shown to reduce deaths from colorectal cancer and is recommended after the age of 50 in many countries. People with a higher risk, such as those with a strong family history of colon cancer, may need to be tested sooner.
If polyps get large, they can cause symptoms. Rectal bleeding or change in bowel habits are the commonest symptoms described.
Most polyps can be removed at the time of colonoscopy. Some polyps require surgery to be removed and minimally invasive techniques can often be used in these cases.
People with polyps need regular follow-up as they are likely to make more polyps which may need to be removed.