Colonic Polyps Investigated

The doctor can use one or more tests to check for colon polyps.

  • Barium Enema – The doctor pouts liquid called barium into your rectum before taking x-rays of your large intestine.  Barium makes your intestine look white in the pictures.  Polyps are dark, so they are easily seen.
  • Rigid Sigmoidoscopy – With this test the doctor puts a thin, flexible tube into your rectum the tube is called a sigmoidoscope and it has a light in it.  The doctor uses the sigmoidoscope to look at the last third of your large intestine.
  • Colonoscopy –  The doctor will give you medicine to sedate you during the colonoscopy.  This test is like the sigmoidoscopy, but the doctor looks at the entire large intestine with a long, flexible tube with a camera that shows images on a TV screen.  The tube has a tool that can remove polyps.  The doctor usually removes polyps during colonoscopy.
  • Computerised tomography (CT) scan – with this test, also called virtual colonoscopy, the doctor puts a thin, flexible tube into your rectum.  A machine using x-rays and computers creates pictures of the large intestine that can be seen on a screen. The CT scan takes less time than a colonoscopy because polyps are not removed during the test.  If the CT scan shows polyps, you will need a colonoscopy so they can be removed.
  • Stool test - The doctor will ask you to bring a stool sample in a special cup the stool is tested in the laboratory for signs of cancer, such as DNA changes or blood.

Are colon polyps cancerous?

Some colon polyps are benign, which means they are not cancer.  But some types of polyps may already be cancer or can become cancer.  Flat polyps can be smaller and harder to see and are more likely to be cancer than raised polyps.  Polyps can usually be removed during colonoscopy – the test used to check the colon polyps.

Who gets colon polyps?

Anyone can get colon polyps, but certain people are more likely to get them than others.  You may have a greater chance of getting polyps if;

  • you are 50 years of age or older
  • you have had polyps before
  • someone in your family has had polyps
  • someone in your family has had cancer of the large intestine, also called colon cancer. To find out more about Colon Cancer click here 
  • you have had uterine or ovarian cancer before age 50

Who should get tested for colon polyps?

Talk with your doctor about getting tested for colon polyps if you are 50 years of age or older or earlier if you have symptoms or someone in your family has had polyps or colon cancer. 

What are the next steps?
If you think you have this condition or any of these symptoms
you will need to seek medical advice.
For more information or to make an appointment.
Contact birmingham bowel clinic on 0845 241 7762
or email
If you have private medical care or wish
to pay to see a consultant.
Take this factsheet along to your own
GP and request a referral to one
of our consultants
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At my first consultation I also met with Mandy Smart, Mr Radley’s nurse. She was equally as reassuring and kind. ”
Mrs Jones. August 2013