Polyps are an abnormal growth of tissue that can be found on many different organs in your body. Most polyps are noncancerous; however, since polyps are abnormal growths, it is possible for them to become cancerous if left untreated. Here are some of the most common types of polyps that tend to affect people in the United States.
If a polyp forms on the lining of your colon or your rectum, this is referred to as a colorectal polyp. Most colon polyps are benign and don’t cause any serious complications. However, it is possible for some colon polyps to eventually develop into colon cancer, which is often fatal. Since colon polyps usually don’t present any noticeable symptoms, the best way to prevent this from happening is to get regularly colon screenings for polyps or other abnormalities.
There are three different types of colon polyps. These include:
- Adenomatous: This type of polyp makes up about two-thirds of all colon polyps. Most adenomatous polyps are benign, with only a small percentage ever becoming malignant.
- Serrated: It is common for serrated polyps to become cancerous, especially if they are large in size, flat, and located in the upper colon, where they are more difficult to detect.
- Inflammatory: This type of polyp is usually associated with flare-ups of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
Nasal polyps grow along your sinuses or on the lining of your nasal passages and are usually soft and painless. This type of polyp is normally a result of a condition that causes chronic inflammation, such as asthma, allergies, infections, certain immune disorders, or drug sensitivity. Medications to reduce and prevent polyps are usually the first line of treatment for nasal polyps since they will often return even after successful removal. Nasal polyps are usually only removed surgically if they are blocking your nasal passages or causing breathing problems.
When polyps form on the inner wall of a woman’s uterus, this is referred to as endometrial or uterine polyps. Most endometrial polyps are benign, though some are discovered to be cancerous or precancerous if they are removed for biopsy. Endometrial polyps are the most common among women who are going through menopause because of the fluctuation in hormones. However, younger women can develop these types of polyps as well.
Usually, endometrial polyps don’t require treatment, though sometimes hormonal medications will help relieve symptoms. If necessary, the polyps may be removed surgically and examined for signs of cancerous or precancerous cells.
Polyps that form inside of or on the surface of the cervix are called cervical polyps. Since cervical cancer is so rare, most cervical polyps do not turn out to be cancerous. Like endometrial polyps, cervical polyps tend to affect women who are in their 40s or 50s and have had at least one child. They are also more common among women who are pregnant. This is because the development of cervical polyps is associated with an increase in the female hormone estrogen.
If necessary, cervical polyps are removed during simple procedures in the doctor’s office that don’t even require pain medications. Methods to destroy a polyp and prevent re-growth include using liquid nitrogen, electrocautery ablation, or laser surgery.