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Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon

Last updated Oct. 3, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH


Microscopic pathology image of colon showing a hyperplastic polyp on a colonoscopy.

What are the other Names for this Condition? (Also known as/Synonyms)

  • Colonic Hyperplastic Polyps
  • Hyperplastic Colon Polyps

What are Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon? (Definition/Background Information)

  • Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon are benign, non-cancerous lesions that form in the colon (large intestine). Most polyps are found in the distal part of the colon, which includes the sigmoid colon and rectum
  • These colon polyps are referred to as hyperplastic, because of the activity of the cells that make-up these polyps. The cells in this polyp type are always increasing in number at an abnormal rate, causing enlargement of the area
  • Hyperplastic polyps are not pre-malignant - meaning that there is no increased risk for developing colon cancer

Who gets Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon? (Age and Sex Distribution)

  • Hyperplastic Colon Polyps usually arise in older adults, although they can be found in individuals of all ages. Most commonly they are found in individuals, ages 50 years and over
  • Colon polyps have been found in men and women at equal rates
  • No racial or ethnic predilection is observed

What are the Risk Factors for Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon? (Predisposing Factors)

Common risk factors of Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon include:

  • Colonic epithelial injury (injury to the epithelial lining cells of the colon)
  • Hyperplastic polyposis syndromes - typically caused by genetic mutations, leading to formation of polyps
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
  • Gardner’s syndrome
  • Diet - high in fat, low in fiber
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Weight gain
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

It is important to note that having a risk factor does not mean that one will get the condition. A risk factor increases ones chances of getting a condition compared to an individual without the risk factors. Some risk factors are more important than others.

Also, not having a risk factor does not mean that an individual will not get the condition. It is always important to discuss the effect of risk factors with your healthcare provider.

What are the Causes of Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon? (Etiology)

  • Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon are typically formed in response to colon injury or irritation
  • When an injury occurs, the body works to repair the area. During this repair process, polyps may form, due to extra cell proliferation, or abnormal repair. The cells “pile up” and form a polyp
  • Hyperplastic Colon Polyps may also be caused by genetic mutations that predispose an individual to developing these polyps

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon?

Signs and symptoms of Hyperplastic Colon Polyps may include:

  • Small lesions/polyps in the colon (typically less than 0.5 centimeters)
  • Bleeding from the anus (rare)
  • Mucus mixed with stools (rare)
  • Diarrhea (rare)
  • Constipation (rare)

How is Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon Diagnosed?

A diagnosis of Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon would involve:

  • Physical exam and evaluation of medical history
  • Screening colonoscopy: Hyperplastic Colon Polyps are diagnosed during colonoscopies. A colonoscopy is a test that allows the physician to look at the inner lining of the colon and rectum. A typical colonoscopy involves using a thin, flexible tube (called a colonoscope), with an attached video camera, to view the colon and rectum. A polyp will show up as a bump and can be removed during the colonoscopy and sent for testing
  • Biopsy of the polyp: When the polyp is sent for testing, a pathologist examines the tissue sample under a microscope. If it is indeed a polyp, a distinct appearance is noted by the pathologist. This typically includes benign colonic mucosa with hyperplastic epithelium, luminal serrations, and proliferating crypts

Many clinical conditions may have similar signs and symptoms. Your healthcare provider may perform additional tests to rule out other clinical conditions to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.

What are the possible Complications of Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon?

Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon are normally not harmful, due to their benign nature. Therefore, any complications arising from such polyps are typically minimal.

How is Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon Treated?

  • Due to the benign, non-cancerous nature of Hyperplastic Colon Polyps, they do not require any treatment. They are also not inherently harmful to the body, so it is not essential that they be removed
  • Typically though, they are removed during a colonoscopy and sent for testing, in order to ensure that they are not cancerous or harmful
  • If the polyps are very large, then it is not possible to remove them during a colonoscopy. Instead, a laparoscopic polypectomy is conducted, in which a few, small abdominal incisions are made, so that the colon can be properly accessed. A micro-camera is inserted and surgical instruments used, to remove the polyp

How can Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon be Prevented?

  • Currently, no known prevention methods exist against Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon
  • You can lower your risk of developing polyps by eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This includes, eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; high fat foods should be consumed less. One must exercise for at least 30 minutes each day
  • Folic acid and calcium supplements may also reduce the risk of formation of polyps

What is the Prognosis of Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon? (Outcomes/Resolutions)

  • The prognosis is generally good for individuals with Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon
  • Since, there is no risk of these polyps developing into cancer; they do not have a clinical significance. Most individuals are able to carry on with a normal quality of daily life

Additional and Relevant Useful Information for Hyperplastic Polyps of the Colon:

  • Hyperplastic Colon Polyps are also known as Hyperplastic Polyposis, when over 20 polyps are present in the colon

The following article link will help you understand colonoscopy screening procedure.


What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Jan. 8, 2014
Last updated: Oct. 3, 2018