Background Information:
Polyps are abnormal growths rising from the lining of the large intestine (colon) that protrude into the intestinal canal (lumen). Most polyps are benign (noncancerous) and cause no symptoms. Most benign polyps are classified as one of two types: adenomatous (adenomas) and hyperplastic. Adenomas are the precursor lesions for colorectal carcinoma (colon cancer). The more common hyperplastic polyps are benign and, in most instances, are not considered to be premalignant. A definitive distinction between the two types requires polyp removal and microscopic examination by a surgical pathologist.

The surgical pathologist establishes the diagnosis of adenomatous versus hyperplastic polyp by microscopic examination of a biopsy specimen. This information is essential in determining if further treatment is necessary and, if so, what kind will be most successful.

Treatment Options for Hyperplastic Polyps:

Colonoscopy – A colonoscopy may be performed in an outpatient surgical facility. Through the use of a colonoscope, a physician can view the lining of the colon and remove individual polyps via a biopsy (an essentially painless procedure). Some large polyps may require surgical removal.

Follow-up colonoscopies – Additional colonoscopies, over time, will be necessary to monitor your condition and check on the possible development of new polyps. It is essential that you periodically monitor your condition in order to reduce your risk of cancer.

Measures You Can Take to Prevent Colorectal Cancer: 

  •  Monitor your bowel habits and consult your physician if you experience any of the following:
    • Changes in routine bowel movements
    • Abdominal cramps
    • Unexplained weight loss (>10%)
    • Blood in your stool
  • Maintain a high-fiber diet that is low in fat and calories; consult your physician for proper diet and nutrition information.
  • Consult your physician as to the advisability of your taking nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs and/or dietary supplements, e.g., calcium, to reduce your risk of developing polyps.

Important Questions to Ask Your Doctor: 

  • Does my polyp put me at increased risk for colorectal cancer?
  • What can I do to take care of myself during and after treatment?
  • To whom may I turn for nutritional and dietary information?
  • Are there any other measures I can take to reduce my risk of acquiring future polyps?

Sources of Additional Information:
American College of Gastroenterology  :
American Gastroenterological Association :

This Patient Diagnostic Fact Sheet is provided to you as a service by AmeriPath. It is intended for patient education and information only. It does not constitute advice nor should it be taken to suggest or replace professional medical care from your physician. Your treatment options may vary, depending upon your medical history and current condition. Only your physician and you can determine your best treatment option.