Non-cancerous tumours of the colon or rectum

A non-cancerous (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. Most non-cancerous tumours are polyps that 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.

Non-cancerous tumours of the colon or rectum are usually found during a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. They are removed so they can be examined under a microscope to make a diagnosis. Surgery to remove them is the usual treatment.

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.


A hamartoma, also called a hamartomatous polyp, can form in many parts of the body, including the colon or rectum. They usually don’t cause any symptoms. 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 starts in fat cells and 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.

Expert review and references

  • Ahmed S, Eng C . Colorectal Cancer. Jankowiski J & Hawk E (eds.). Handbook of Gastrointestinal Cancer. Wiley-Blackwell; 2013: 5:86-136.
  • American Cancer Society . Colorectal Cancer . 2018 :
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology. Colorectal Cancer. 2017:
  • BC Cancer Agency (BCCA). Colon Screening Program: Colorectal Polyp Information Sheet for Health Care Providers. 2013.
  • Bosman FT, Carneiro F, Hruban RH, Theise ND. WHO Classification of Tumours of the Digestive System. 4th ed. Lyon: International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC); 2010.
  • National Cancer Institute & National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Colorectal Polyps. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute & National Library of Medicine; 2013.

Medical disclaimer

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