Definition & Facts for Colon Polyps

What are colon polyps?

Colon polyps are growths on the lining of your colon and rectum.You can have more than one colon polyp.

Are colon polyps cancerous?

Colon and rectal cancer most often begins as polyps. Over time, some polyps can become cancerous. Removing polyps can help prevent cancer of the colon and rectum. Colon cancer is one the most common causes of death from cancer.

Who is more likely to develop colon polyps?

Everyone has a chance of developing colon polyps and colon cancer. However, some people are more likely to develop them than others. You may have a greater chance of developing polyps if

Two family members sitting on a couch talking.
You may have a greater chance of polyps if someone in your family has had polyps.

When should I start colon polyp screening?

Screening is testing for diseases when you have no symptoms. Finding and removing polyps can help prevent cancer of the colon or rectum. Your doctor will recommend screening for colon and rectal cancer at age 50 if you don’t have health problems or other factors that make you more likely to develop colorectal cancer.2

If you are at higher risk for colorectal cancer, your doctor may recommend screening at a younger age, and you may need to be tested more often.

If you are older than 75, talk with your doctor about whether you should be screened. For more information, read the current colorectal cancer screening guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).


November 2014

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.