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Colorectal Polyps


  • Colorectal (ko-lo-REK-al) polyps (POL-ips) are small lumps of tissues in the lining of the colon and rectum. They are usually benign (noncancerous) and produce no symptoms. Over time, certain types of polyps called adenomatous polyps, may develop into cancer (tumor). Another type of colorectal polyp is the hyperplastic polyp that usually does not develop into cancer. Polyps may be present in different shapes, such as a sessile (flat) polyp or on a stalk (stem). They may be different colors and sizes, and may be one or more in number. Genetics, increased age, obesity, and a diet high in fat or low in fiber may increase your risk for colorectal polyps. Having other diseases of the colon, such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, also increases your risk of polyps. The colon and rectum are also called the large bowel. The large bowel is part of the digestive system where stools are formed.
    Picture of a normal digestive system
  • Most colorectal polyps have no signs and symptoms. If present, you may have bleeding from the rectum (rear end), abdominal pain, or pale skin or gums. You may also notice some changes in your bowel habits, such as diarrhea and constipation. You may have a colonoscopy, barium enema, sigmoidoscopy, and CT scan to diagnose colorectal polyps. Treatment may include watchful waiting, colonoscopic polypectomy, and surgery. Diagnosing and treating colorectal polyps as soon as possible may prevent them from becoming cancerous.


Take your medicine as directed:

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Your caregiver may need to repeat your colonoscopy. This procedure helps your caregiver look for more polyps and monitor them for early signs of cancer. It may also be done to check the area where a polyp was removed to make sure that it was completely removed. Ask your caregiver when you will need another colonoscopy.

Do not drink alcohol:

Some people should not drink alcohol. These people include those with certain medical conditions or who take medicine that interacts with alcohol. Alcohol includes beer, wine, and liquor. Tell your caregiver if you drink alcohol. Ask him to help you stop drinking.

Eat healthy foods:

Choose healthy foods from all the food groups every day. Include whole-grain bread, cereal, rice, and pasta. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, including dark green and orange vegetables. Include dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Choose protein sources, such as lean beef and chicken, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Ask how many servings of fats, oils, and sweets you should have each day, and if you need to be on a special diet.

Drinking liquids:

Adults should drink about 9 to 13 cups of liquid each day. One cup is 8 ounces. Good choices of liquids for most people include water, juice, and milk. Coffee, soup, and fruit may be counted in your daily liquid amount. Ask your caregiver how much liquid you should drink each day.


Exercise makes the heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, and helps keep you healthy. Begin to exercise slowly and do more as you get stronger. Talk with your primary healthcare provider before you start an exercise program.

Do not smoke:

Smoking causes lung cancer and other long-term lung diseases. It increases your risk of many cancer types. Smoking also increases your risk of blood vessel disease, heart attack, and vision disorders. Not smoking may help prevent such symptoms as headaches and dizziness for yourself and those around you. Smokers have shorter lifespans than nonsmokers.


  • You have a fever.
  • You have chills, a cough, or feel weak and achy.
  • The pain in your abdomen does not go away or gets worse after taking your medicine.
  • Your abdomen is swollen or is getting larger.
  • You are losing weight without trying.
  • You have questions or concerns about your disease, treatment, or medicine.


  • You have trouble breathing all of a sudden.
  • You have a fast heart rate, fast breathing, or are too dizzy to stand up.
  • You have severe pain in your stomach.
  • You see blood in your bowel movements.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Colorectal Polyps (Aftercare Instructions)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.