What is bowel polyps


Bowel polyps are common, small clumps of cells that are attached to the lining of the large intestine (bowel). They are found in around one-third of all adults over 50, but may also be found in younger people. In most cases they do not cause any symptoms and do not lead to any more serious problems. However, some abnormal polyps can sometimes turn into cancer if left untreated so it is important to have them checked.

Bowel polyps come in different shapes and sizes and can vary greatly everywhere from just a few millimeters up to several centimeters wide. They can have different appearances such as flat lesions or dome shaped mounds on a stalk or peduncle. The color varies from pink/red to yellowish brown and even pale white depending on the type of polyp it is. Polyps can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

What are Bowel Polyps?

Bowel polyps are growths on the inner lining of the large intestine. They can be benign, pre-cancerous, or cancerous. While most polyps are benign and do not need to be treated, it is important to diagnose them and keep an eye on them if they do not resolve on their own.

To understand more about bowel polyps, we will look at:

  • What causes them
  • The different types
  • Their symptoms
  • Treatment

Types of Bowel Polyps

Bowel polyps are abnormal growths or masses of tissue that can appear in the colon, also known as the large intestine. Although most polyps are benign, or noncancerous, it is important to have them evaluated and removed because some may develop into cancer. There are several types of bowel polyps identified by their shape and size.

  • Adenomatous Polyps: These are the most common type of polyp found in the colon. They usually range from one-half inch to two inches in size and often have a raised center with a flat surface. Some may be classified as “pedunculated” if they have a stalk attaching them to the intestinal wall. While most adenomatous polyps are benign, they can develop into colorectal cancer if not removed or monitored closely over time; thus, these types of polyps should be removed as soon as possible to prevent further complications.
  • Hyperplastic Polyps: Often smaller than adenomatous polyps, these are typically flat growths that occur sporadically throughout the colon wall and show up frequently on tests performed for colorectal cancer screening purposes. Hyperplastic polyps grow slowly and they rarely develop into colorectal cancer; therefore, they can almost always be monitored over time with close surveillance instead of being removed immediately.
  • Inflammatory Polyps: Primarily caused by chronic inflammatory conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease, these tend to be smaller than adenomatous and hyperplastic ones but appear quite frequently – sometimes numbering in the hundreds – alongside shallow ulcers caused by inflammation along the intestinal lining. The presence of inflammatory bowel disease is helpful in identifying this condition because it increases your risk for developing other health problems such as colitis-associated cancers later on if left untreated for too long. Therefore, monitoring these types of growths closely over time is important for maintaining health.

Causes of Bowel Polyps

It is not always clear what causes bowel polyps. Some people may be born with them, or they may develop slowly over time due to a variety of factors. Certain lifestyle and diet choices can also increase the likelihood of developing these growths.

Research has linked certain inherited genetic conditions, including certain types of cancer, to higher rates of bowel polyps. Advanced age is also a risk factor for developing these growths. It is estimated that more than 25% of adults older that 60 have some type of polyp in the digestive system.

Additionally, people with a history of inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are at an increased risk for developing colonic polyps. Animal-based diets high in fat and low in fiber are said to contribute to the development of these growths as well as hormonal imbalances due to an elevated intake of refined sugars and carbohydrates.

Symptoms of Bowel Polyps

Some people with bowel polyps don’t have any symptoms. However, certain signs may indicate the presence of a polyp, including:

  • Blood in your stool or on toilet paper after a bowel movement
  • Changes in your bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain or fullness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent fatigue

In some cases, larger polyps can cause blockages in the intestine or obstructions that make it difficult to pass stools. This can lead to abdominal swelling and cramping. If a polyp is blocking the intestine completely, you may need urgent medical attention and surgery to remove it.


Diagnosis of bowel polyps is generally done through a colonoscopy, which is a procedure that examines the inside of the colon and rectum for polyps or other abnormalities. The doctor will look for any potential polyps and take a biopsy if necessary.

Other tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and blood tests may also be used to confirm the diagnosis.


Colonoscopy is a procedure used to diagnose, monitor and prevent conditions that affect the large intestine (colon) and rectum. During a colonoscopy, a long, thin tube with a camera is inserted into your rectum. The physician can then look at the inner lining of the colon and rectum to detect any irregularities such as tumors or polyps. If any are detected, they may be removed during the procedure for further evaluation.

Colonoscopies are most commonly used to screen for colorectal cancer, but they can also be used to diagnose other conditions affecting the large intestine such as diverticulitis and Crohn’s disease. Additionally, if polyps are found during screening, they can be removed before they become cancerous.

This procedure is recommended for most adults over 50 who have not been tested in many years or who have certain risk factors for colorectal cancer, including:

  • Family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • History of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Certain inherited syndromes

Other Tests

In some cases, your doctor may use other techniques for diagnosing bowel polyps. Some of these techniques include:

  • Sigmoidoscopy: a lighted instrument used to look at the lower portion of the large intestine. Your doctor will use this technique to view any visible polyps and also remove one or more to have them examined under a microscope.
  • Colonoscopy: a technique similar to sigmoidoscopy, but this time the entire colon (large intestine) is examined with the help of a lighted instrument. During this procedure, your doctor may take samples of suspicious tissues (biopsies) or remove polyps if they are found.
  • DNA Testing: DNA testing can also be used in some cases which helps in detecting abnormal cells quickly and easily. This is especially beneficial for people who have numerous polyps and an increased risk factor for colorectal cancer.
  • Imaging techniques: Imaging techniques such as X-rays, CT scans and MRI scans can help your doctor identify the growths and determine their size. These techniques are normally used when there is suspicion of cancer or when you suffer from any other related symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, rectal bleeding etc.


Treatment for bowel polyps depends on the type and size of the polyp. Smaller polyps may be treated with medications, while larger polyps may require surgery. Depending on the size and location of the polyp, endoscopic procedures may also be used to remove the polyp.

In this section, we will discuss the different options for treating a wide variety of bowel polyps:


Bowel polyps can be treated with medications that shrink the size of the polyp, reduce inflammation, or destroy the cells of a polyp. Commonly prescribed treatments include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroids to reduce inflammation of the polyp. For larger polyps, an oral drug such as 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) may be used to shrink its size.

For smaller or shallow polyps, biopsy may be necessary to ensure their removal. In some cases, minimally invasive endoscopic surgery may also need to be considered if the polyp is too large or deeply embedded in the tissue in order to safely remove it.


When surgery is necessary for the treatment of bowel polyps, it involves removing either the entire polyp or just a portion of it. There are several types of surgical options available and these include:

  • Endoscopic resection: This is done by using an endoscope, which is a long, thin tube with a camera and light at one end. The endoscope will go inside the body to locate the polyp and then use special instruments to take it out.
  • Surgical excision: This procedure is done under general anesthesia and requires an abdominal incision for removal of the entire polyp. This can help to reduce any further risks of cancer or recurrence but has a longer recovery time than an endoscopic resection.
  • Laser therapy: Laser therapy utilizes a laser beam to freeze and destroy small colon polyps. It does not involve surgery and can be done as an outpatient procedure in some cases with minimal side effects.
  • Polypectomy: Polypectomy involves using forceps to remove small portions of the colon lining that contain multiple polyps in order to reduce any risk of cancer or recurrence. This procedure may require anesthesia and can be completed during a colonoscopy exam.
  • Colostomy Surgery: If there is extensive damage within the large intestine due to presence of bowel polyps, then colostomy surgery may be necessary to create an opening at one side of your abdomen where your stool can leave your body through a bag on that side until everything heals completely before reversing it back again once healing process finished for proper functioning again within large intestine.


Bowel polyps cannot be prevented, however there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk. These steps include:

  • Eat a healthy diet that is high in fiber and low in saturated fat. This will help keep your digestive system functioning properly so that the polyps do not have an opportunity to form.
  • Exercise regularly as this helps keep your weight under control and can reduce the amount of toxins in your body.
  • Avoid smoking and limit your alcohol consumption as these habits can increase your risk of bowel polyps.
  • Avoid taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for over extended periods of time, as prolonged use has been associated with an increased risk of developing polyps.
  • Have regular checkups with your healthcare provider so they can monitor any changes in the size and shape of the polyps. This will allow them to intervene if needed before it becomes a problem.


In conclusion, the presence of bowel polyps does not always indicate the presence of cancer. Polyps can occur for a variety of reasons and can range in size from tiny to quite large. Depending on the type and location, there may be risk factors that need to be taken into consideration.

Treatment plans usually involve surgical removal of larger polyps and monitoring of smaller ones through regular screenings. If you experience any discomfort or changes in your bowel habits, it’s important to talk to your doctor so they can recommend a course of action that’s right for you.