Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Illustration of nasal polyp

Illustration of nasal polyp
beginning of content


A polyp is a growth on an organ in your body. Most polyps are benign, which means they are often harmless. But some are or might become malignant, which means they can spread.

Polyps types

Polyps can grow:

  • in your ear canal, and are called aural
  • on the cervix, and are called cervical
  • on the lining of the colon, and are called colonic
  • found inside the nose, and are called nasal
  • in the lining of your stomach, and are called stomach or gastric
  • inside the uterus, and are called uterine.


What causes polyps?

Polyps are caused by abnormal growth of cells. Often there is no obvious cause.

Polyps symptoms

If you have polyps, you might or might not get symptoms. If you do, they will include:

  • aural polyps – loss of hearing and bloody discharge from your ear
  • cervical polyps – abnormal bleeding or heavy periods
  • colonic polyps – blood in your stool, pain, constipation or diarrhoea
  • nasal polyps – a feeling like a cold that won’t go away
  • uterine – irregular menstrual bleeding
  • stomach – pain, tenderness, nausea, vomiting and bleeding.

Diagnosis and treatment of polyps

Treatment will depend on the type of polyp.

If your doctor thinks you have a polyp you may have a biopsy. This means the doctor takes a sample and analyses it under a microscope.

If the polyp is difficult to reach, your doctor may suggest a different procedure. Or you may have an endoscopy to get the biopsy.

Treatment will depend on:

  • whether or not a polyp is cancerous
  • how many polyps are found and where
  • their size.

Some polyps will not require treatment. Others may be removed to reduce the risk of cancer.

Polyps prevention

Some people have a lot of polyps in the family. This means they have a higher than normal chance of having polyps.

If you’re at risk of developing polyps, talk to your doctor about how to prevent them.

Regular screening may be suggested if you have a family history of some types of polyps or depending on your age.

Eating a healthy diet and avoiding smoking will reduce the risk of some polyps.

Last reviewed: December 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 83 results

Colon polyps (bowel polyps) -

Colon (bowel) polyps are small growths of tissue from the wall of the large bowel or colon. Polyps usually don't cause symptoms, but are normally removed so they don't cause cancer.

Read more on myDr website

Nasal polyps - Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

Nasal polyps are soft, jelly-like overgrowths of the lining of the sinuses. They look like grapes on the end of a stalk. They occur in around 1 in 200 people, mostly by the age of 40 years.

Read more on ASCIA – Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy website

Bowel Cancer (Staging)

Most bowel cancers develop in the large bowel (colon) or rectum. The cancer usually develops from tiny growths called polyps, however, only a small number of polyps become cancerous.

Read more on Diagnostic Imaging Pathways website

About bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is one of Australias most common cancers, especially for people aged over 50.

Read more on Department of Health website

About colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is a procedure to visually examine the bowel. People who receive a positive screening result will generally be referred for a colonoscopy.

Read more on Department of Health website

Colonoscopy: examination of the colon -

A colonoscopy is an examination of the colon (large bowel), using a colonoscope a long, thin, flexible tube containing a camera and a light.

Read more on myDr website

Nasonex Aqueous Nasal Spray 0.05% Alcohol Free -

Nasonex Aqueous Nasal Spray 0.05% Alcohol Free - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Bowel cancer screening program - Cancer Council Australia

Regular bowel cancer screening using on FOBT kit can pick up pre-cancerous polyps. Find out more about tests for bowel cancer.

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

Sinusitis and allergy - Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

The sinuses are cavities within the skull. They drain into the nose through small holes. Sinusitis means inflammation of the nasal sinuses. Sinusitis is most commonly short-lived, such as after a viral cold. Blockage of the drainage pathways, however, creates an environment that favours the overgrowth of bacteria resulting in long-term (chronic) sinusitis. Hayfever and polyps are the most common reasons for having recurrent or chronic sinus infection.

Read more on ASCIA – Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy website

Bowel cancer - Lab Tests Online AU

The bowel forms part of the digestive system. The digestive system, or alimentary canal, is the path that food follows through your body. Leaving the mouth, food enters the oesophagus and travels down to the stomach. The food in the stomach empties into the small intestine, or small bowel, and the food passes then to the large intestine. The large intestine is also known as the large bowel, and is divided into two parts: the colon and the rectum. The colon makes up most of the 1.5 metre length of the large bowel. The colon is responsible for absorbing water, vitamins and minerals from the intestinal contents and conserving them. The rectum is the last part of the bowel, and its function is to form stools, and rid the body of undigested material.

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo