Colorectal polyps

Alternative Names

Intestinal polyps; Polyps – colorectal; Adenomatous polyps; Hyperplastic polyps; Villous adenomas

Definition of Colorectal polyps

A colorectal polyp is a growth that sticks out of the lining of the colon or rectum.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Polyps of the colon and rectum are usually . There may be single or many polyps, and they become more common as people age.


There are usually no symptoms. However, the following symptoms may occur:

Signs and tests

A rectal examination may rarely reveal a polyp that can be felt by the health care provider. However, the physical exam is usually normal.


Over time, adenomatous colorectal polyps can develop into cancer and should be removed. In most cases, the polyps may be removed at the same time a colonoscopy is performed. For patients with polyps, follow-up colonoscopy should be performed within 3 – 5 years to see if the polyps have returned.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outlook for patients with colorectal polyps is excellent, assuming the polyps are removed. Polyps that are left behind can develop into cancer over time.


David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. – 11/5/2009

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ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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