Bowel (colorectal) polyps

What are polyps?

Polyps are small growths on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. While they are usually non-cancerous, certain types have the potential to develop into bowel cancer over time.

What are the symptoms of polyps?

Most people won’t experience any symptoms of polyps, and they’re usually found on routine bowel cancer screenings (via colonoscopy or flexi sigmoidoscopy).

When symptoms do occur they may include blood in the stool or rectal bleeding, diarrohea or constipation that lasts longer than a week or nausea or vomiting.

What causes polyps?

The exact cause of polyps isn’t known, but they are a result of abnormal tissue growth. Risk factors include:

  • being over 50,
  • being overweight,
  • having a family or personal history of polyps,
  • having IBD, and
  • lifestyle factors such as:
    • smoking,
    • frequent alcohol consumption,
    • eating a high-fat diet, and
    • having a sedentary lifestyle.

What treatment options are available?

If your doctor discovers any polyps during a colonoscopy they will likely remove them. If they’re too large to be removed during a colonoscopy you may need separate surgery.

The polyps will be sent off for analysis to see if they contain any cancerous cells.

Find out more about polyps

If you have a family or personal history of polyps, or are concerned about any of your gastrointestinal symptoms, talk to one of our gastroenterologists today.