Overview

A colon polyp is a small clump of cells that forms on the lining of the colon. Most colon polyps are harmless. But over time, some colon polyps can develop into colon cancer, which is often fatal when found in its later stages.

There are two main categories of polyps, non-neoplastic and neoplastic. Non-neoplastic polyps include hyperplastic polyps, inflammatory polyps and hamartomatous polyps. These types of polyps typically do not become cancerous. Neoplastic polyps include adenomas and serrated types. In general, the larger a polyp, the greater the risk of cancer, especially with neoplastic polyps.

Anyone can develop colon polyps. You're at higher risk if you're 50 or older, are overweight or a smoker, or have a personal or family history of colon polyps or colon cancer.

Colon polyps often don't cause symptoms. It's important to have regular screening tests, such as a colonoscopy, because colon polyps found in the early stages can usually be removed safely and completely. The best prevention for colon cancer is regular screening for polyps.

Colon polyps care at Mayo Clinic