A polyp is a lesion projecting into the lumen of the bowel, usually detected during colonoscopy. Polyps are very common in societies at high risk of developing colorectal cancer. Most individuals can be expected to develop at least one during their lifetime. They are an important cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide but predominantly in westernized countries.
When detected by a gastroenterologist, the polyp is usually biopsied when either a small bite from the lesion is taken or the whole lesion is removed. The biopsy is sent to a pathologist, who is a physician trained to examine tissues under a microscope, to determine if they are benign or malignant.
There are two major types of polyps, hyperplastic polyps and adenomas. Hyperplastic polyps are benign and usually do not have a malignant potential. Adenomas, while benign, are considered to be precursor lesions of colorectal carcinoma in most instances. Patients with multiple and large polyps are especially at greater risk of developing carcinoma.
Sometimes a polyp may represent just a mucosal bump, a collection of inflammatory cells, or swelling of the bowel wall. Polyps may be present singly or in multiple numbers, usually associated with family history of inherited diseases.
The pathologist evaluates the biopsy or resected polyp and issues a diagnosis. The gastroenterologist then interprets the biopsy results with colonoscopic findings and makes recommendations for further treatment and follow up.
The Diagnostic Clinic provides state of the art endoscopy and pathology services via its team of dedicated gastroenterologists and pathologists. If you are in a high risk category, please contact one of our qualified gastroenterologists.
Authored by: Seema S. Mullick, M.D.
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