Do Polyps Increase Colon Cancer Risk?

Polyps are often found during a colonoscopy, but what do they mean for your risk of colon cancer? Dr. Kim explains the different types of polyps and how they relate to colon cancer risk.

George P. Kim, MD: Polyps certainly raise the risk or increase the risk of developing colon cancer. There are several types of polyps though. There are what we call tubular polyps which are basically like grape like structures hanging from a stalk. Our colleagues in gastroendocrinology our colonoscopist, can go in and readily clip these off, so these tend to be what we call low risk polyps. The size of the polyp is important. Polyps that are greater than a centimeter, about half an inch, are higher risk. Polyps that are less than this amount, less than a centimeter, are at lower risk. There are also the number of polyps that are seen during the colonoscopy. Two to three is considered low risk. Anything greater than three is considered high risk.

Other types of polyps are called villous polyps these are more flat polyps that are maybe harder to remove, certainly high grade dysplasia, that’s where the normal colon architecture, the normal colon cells, don’t look normal they look erratic and potentially deranged and they are potentially going to go on to develop cancer. If we find those types of changes we certainly raise concerns in regards to the risk of colon cancer and may argue for patients to undergo surgery.

George P. Kim, MD is an Assistant Professor of Oncology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and is a consultant in the Department of Hematology and Oncology, Mayo Clinic Jacksonville.

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This information should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use the information provided on this site solely at your own risk.  If you have any concerns about your health, please consult with a physician.


This information should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use the information provided on this site solely at your own risk. If you have any concerns about your health, please consult with a physician.

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