Colorectal polyps are benign cell growths in the intestinal mucosa. However, they also pose a risk factor for bowel cancer as colon cancer usually develops from a colorectal polyp. Colorectal polyps that are discovered during a colonoscopy, for example, should therefore be removed or at least checked at regular intervals.
Colorectal polyps are relatively frequent. Every tenth person is affected by them. The older the person, the more likely it is that colorectal polyps will occur. Colorectal polyps are located predominantly in the colon and in the rectum. Along with age, nutrition and lifestyle play a significant role in the occurrence of colorectal polyps. Fibre-rich and a high-fat food, excessive weight, limited exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption are deemed to be risk factors. People with diabetes mellitus also frequently suffer from colorectal polyps.
There is also a hereditary form which is known as familial adenomatous polyposis. In this form, more than 100 polyps occur in the colon and the risk of cancer is much higher.
Colorectal polyps do not often cause any symptoms. Sometimes they may bleed slightly, which can lead to visible admixtures of blood in the stool. In rare cases, large polyps can cause constipation.
Colorectal polyps are usually discovered during a colonoscopy within the scope of a preventive examination or a check-up. During a colonoscopy, colorectal polyps can be immediately removed and then examined in the laboratory afterwards. If it turns out that the patient already has colon cancer or a preliminary stage of colon cancer, surgery may be necessary. Find out more about this in the colon surgery section.