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Non-cancerous tumours of the colon and rectum
A non-cancerous, or benign, tumour of the colon or rectum is a growth that does not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Non-cancerous tumours are not usually life-threatening. They usually do not cause any symptoms, but doctors may remove them to make a diagnosis.
Most non-cancerous tumours of the colon or rectum are polyps. These growths are attached to the lining of the colon or rectum. They usually stick out from the lining and grow toward the hollow centre of the colon or rectum.
Hyperplastic and inflammatory polyps
Hyperplastic polyps are the most common type of non-cancerous colorectal tumour. They are often small and found in the rectum.
Inflammatory polyps are usually found in people with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as ulcerative colitis.
Hyperplastic and inflammatory polyps are usually found during a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. The doctor will remove the polyp (called polypectomy) and send it to a lab to be examined under a microscope to make a diagnosis.
A hamartoma is also called a hamartomatous polyp. It is a non-cancerous tumour made of an overgrowth of normal cells. Hamartomas can form in many parts of the body, including the colon or rectum. They usually don’t cause any symptoms.
Hamartomas are found during a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. The doctor may remove them and send them to a lab to be examined under a microscope to make a diagnosis. If hamartomas are found, more testing may be done to find out if you have Peutz-Jeghers syndrome. This syndrome is a hereditary colorectal condition that increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
A lipoma is a non-cancerous tumour that starts in fat cells. Lipomas can form anywhere in the body where there are fat cells, including the colon and rectum. Doctors usually don’t remove them unless they are large and cause symptoms like pain or a blockage in the intestine (called bowel obstruction).
Great progress has been made
Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.