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Types of Colon Cancer/Polyps

Colon cancer, which affects more than 100,000 new patients each year in the United States, begins as a growth called a polyp. It originates in the innermost lining of the colon and grows outward, having the potential to eventually affect the blood vessels, lymph nodes and other areas of the body. As the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country, there are several types of colon polyps and cancers, all of which can be treated by Regional Cancer Care Associates. Here’s a look at each.

Adenomatous Polyps

Commonly known as adenomas or adenocarcinomas, adenomatous polyps are most commonly found in colon cancer patients and account for roughly 70 percent of all types of colon polyps. These polyps are considered precancerous, although it can take years for colon cancer to develop. Unlike other polyps, adenomas are a result of neoplasia, which is when a new, abnormal growth of neoplastic cells takes on different characteristics compared with normal cells. These cells then group into a tumor called a neoplasm, and when the tumor is malignant, colon cancer is present.

Though all adenomas are precancerous to start, a subtype of adenomatous polyps, known as villous adenoma, carries a greater risk of becoming cancerous compared with other subtypes. An estimated 30 percent of all villous adenomas found in the colon’s lining will develop into colon cancer. If an adenomatous polyp has a broccoli-like appearance, it is identified as a villous adenoma.

Low-Risk Polyps

Other types of colon polyps are not considered precancerous and typically are found to be benign. However, these types of polyps do sometimes, though rarely, develop into colon cancer and should not be ignored. One of these types is hyperplastic polyps, which get their name from hyperplasia, a condition in which normal cells increase at an abnormal rate and form an enlarged polyp. Though these grow very quickly, they carry a low risk of developing into colon cancer.

Inflammatory polyps have a slightly deceiving name. Also known as pseudopolyps or false polyps, they are a small area of foci, or abnormal cells, that become inflamed because of a reaction the colon is having to another condition. For instance, persons with inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease are more likely to experience inflammatory polyps. Though they are unlikely to develop into malignant tumors, they still should be monitored carefully by your doctor.

Doctor explaining scan to patient

Other Types of Colon Cancer

While about 70 percent of colon cancers involve adenomas, some colon cancers result from other abnormalities that do not involve polyps. Rarer types of colon cancer tumors include:

  • Carcinoid tumors – which originate in the intestinal cells that produce hormones
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumors – a rare form of colon cancer known as soft tissue sarcoma, which develops in the soft, connective tissue and/or blood vessels of the colon
  • Lymphoma – a type of cancer affecting the entire immune system that rarely originates in the colon

Beat Colon Cancer with RCCA

Regardless of which type of colon polyps or cancer you or a loved one may have, Regional Cancer Care Associates offers the highly specialized care necessary to restore your health. With numerous locations across New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut, state-of-the-art treatments and the latest research-based methods are just a phone call away. To learn more, schedule an appointment at one of our locations or contact Regional Cancer Care Associates today at 844-346-7222.


Regional Cancer Care Associates is one of fewer than 200 medical practices in the country selected to participate in the Oncology Care Model (OCM); a recent Medicare initiative aimed at improving care coordination and access to and quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries undergoing chemotherapy treatment.