A bowel (colorectal) polyp is an abnormal, fleshy lesion that grows from the inner wall of the large bowel. Approximately half of all Australians are likely to develop a bowel polyp during their lifetime, but many of these remain undetected.
If polyps are left untreated for years, then some will develop into a bowel cancer. Polyps once found should be removed, and this is normally quite easily achieved during your colonoscopy procedure.
Complete removal prevents a polyp from progressing to a bowel cancer, but the mere finding of polyps often indicates an increased future risk of cancer, and follow up colonoscopy may be recommended.
Polyps vary in type, shape, size, location and number, and all of these factors may influence future bowel cancer risk and follow up recommendations.
There are two main types of polyps; adenomatous and hyperplastic. As a rule, adenomatous polyps can develop into bowel cancer, and follow up is important.
In contrast, hyperplastic polyps generally do not carry a risk of future bowel cancer, but there are some exceptions. Other factors such as size, number, location and shape of polyps may also influence future bowel cancer risk, and your doctor will provide you specific tailored advice to manage your future needs.