A bowel (colorectal) polyp is an abnormal, fleshy growth extending from the inner wall of the large bowel (colon and rectum). Approximately half of all Australians are likely to develop a bowel polyp during their lifetime, but the majority of these remain undetected. If polyps are left untreated for many years, a small percentage of polyps can develop into bowel cancer. Polyps vary in type, shape, size, location and number:
Depending on the type, size, and number of bowel polyps removed, your doctor will advise on the necessity and timing of future colonoscopies, usually in 3 to 5 years. The interval between colonoscopies may be shorter if your doctor wishes to check that a polyp was completely removed or if the colonoscopy was incomplete because of retained fluid and faeces. In addition, some people with a strong family history of bowel cancer or a large number of bowel polyps may undergo more intensive follow up.