Colon Polyps

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Definition & Facts

Colon polyps are growths on the lining of your colon and rectum. Most polyps are not cancerous, but some may develop into cancer over time. Removing polyps can help prevent colorectal cancer.

Symptoms & Causes

Most people with colon polyps don’t have symptoms. Experts aren’t sure what causes colon polyps. Research suggests that certain factors, such as age and family history, can increase your chances of developing colon polyps.


Doctors can find colon polyps only by using certain tests or procedures. Your doctor may take a medical and family history, perform a physical exam, or request a stool test or other tests.


Doctors treat colon polyps by removing them. Doctors use special tools during a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy to remove colon polyps.

Eating, Diet, & Nutrition

Research suggests eating more fruits, vegetables, and other foods with fiber may lower your chances of developing colon polyps. Losing weight if you’re overweight and not gaining weight if you’re already at a healthy weight may also help prevent polyps.

Clinical Trials

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.

Your Digestive System and How it Works

The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract-also called the digestive tract-and the liver, pancreas, and the gallbladder. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus.

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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.