Types of colon polyps

Some adenomatous polyps are attached to the wall of the colon or rectum by a stalk (pedunculated). Some have a broad base with little or no stalk (sessile).

Polyps are also classified based on the type of tissue they contain:1

  • Tubular (T) adenomas are the most common type. About 80% to 86% of polyps contain this type of tissue. Tubular adenomas are the least likely type of polyp to develop into colon cancer.
  • Villous (V) adenomas are the least common type. About 3% to 16% of polyps contain this type of tissue. Villous adenomas are the most likely type of polyp to become cancerous.
  • Tubulovillous (TV) adenomas are a combination of tubular and villous tissue types. About 8% to 16% of polyps contain this type of tissue and are more likely than tubular (T) but less likely than villous (V) adenomas to develop into cancer.
Cancer risk of different polyps 1
  Smaller than 1 cm 1 cm to 2 cm Larger than 2 cm
Tubular (T)

1% chance of containing cancer

10% chance of containing cancer

35% chance of containing cancer

Tubulovillous (TV)

4% chance of containing cancer

7% chance of containing cancer

46% chance of containing cancer

Villous (V)

10% chance of containing cancer

10% chance of containing cancer

53% chance of containing cancer


  1. Itzkowitz SH, Rochester J (2006). Colonic polyps and polyposis syndromes. In M Feldman et al., eds., Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 8th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2713–2757. Philadelphia: Saunders/Elsevier.

Last Updated: April 28, 2009

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