Prevention of Colorectal Polyps

Colorectal polyps are common in people over the age of 50. They cannot be prevented in all cases. The following measures can help prevent intestinal polyps from developing and lower the risk for colorectal cancer:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation
  • Eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet (e.g., limit red meat; eat plenty of fruits and vegetables)
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy body weight

The American Cancer Society recommends the following screening for adults at average risk for developing colorectal cancer, beginning at the age of 50:

  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or immunochemical fecal occult blood test (iFOBT) every year, or
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or
  • FOBT or iFOBT every year plus flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or
  • Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years, or
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years

Patients who are at increased risk for colorectal cancer (e.g., those with a family or personal history of colon cancer or polyps) should be screened more often.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 28 Feb 2008

Last Modified: 08 Sep 2015