Polyp diagram

What is a polyp?

A polyp is a small wart like growth that sometimes forms on the lining of the bowel.  Most polyps are harmless but if they are left to grow, some forms of polyps can develop in to a cancer.  By removing the polyps, your risk of developing bowel cancer is greatly reduced.  Most polyps do not cause any symptoms but in some cases they can cause bleeding or a change in bowel habit.

Anyone can develop colonic polyps, but certain people are more likely to get them than others.  You may have a greater chance of having polyps if:

  • You are 50 years of age or older
  • You have had polyps before
  • Someone in your family has had polyps or bowel cancer
  • You are a smoker, are overweight or have a poor diet

Some polyps are attached to the bowel wall by a stalk, and look like a mushroom, whereas others are flat without a stalk.