A polyp is a mass of cells that form on the lining of an organ; one such place that they can form is in the stomach. In the stomach they are called gastric polyps; the occurrence of them in the stomach is quite rare. The signs and symptoms of gastric polyps are limited, and most of the time the polyps are discovered by accident. Once the diagnosis is made, the treatment varies based on the type and location of the polyps. Learn about the symptoms, causes, types, diagnosis, and treatment of stomach polyps in this article.
Symptoms of Stomach Polyps
Many times stomach polyps don’t have any signs or symptoms, and they are just found by accident, like during a routine visit to the doctor. That said, there are a few things that might be experienced as a result of the polyp. As the polyp enlarges, ulcers can develop on its surface; in some very rare instances, the polyp may block the opening between the stomach and the small intestine. Abdominal pain and tenderness when pressure is applied to the abdomen are possible symptoms, as well as bleeding, nausea, and vomiting due to the polyps.
Causes and Types of Stomach Polyps
Stomach polyps result when the lining of the stomach is inflamed or in some other way irritated or damaged. The different types of polyps in the stomach can have different causes.
Fundic gland polyps
Fundic gland polyps form from the glandular cells that are found on the inside lining of the stomach. They occur in people with an inherited colon cancer syndrome, called familial adenomatous polyposis; sometimes they can even occur in people who don’t have this inherited syndrome. This type of polyp typically only becomes cancerous in those who have the inherited colon cancer syndrome.
Hyperplastic polyps are a result of the chronic inflammation that can happen in the cells that line the inside of the stomach. They are the most common in people with stomach inflammation (gastritis). Most hyperplastic polyps have a very slim chance of becoming stomach cancer; if it is a larger hyperplastic polyp (greater than ¾ inch), the risk of becoming cancerous increases.
Adenomas, too, form from the glandular cells lining the inside of the stomach; however, the difference is that when adenomas form, errors occur in their DNA, making the cells susceptible to becoming cancerous. Adenomas are the least common type of polyp, but they are also the type that is most likely to become cancer.
There are two different tests and procedures to diagnose a stomach polyp. First, a scope can be used to see the inside of the stomach; this is called an upper endoscopy procedure. A flexible tube with a camera attached to the tip is inserted into the mouth and down the throat, allowing the doctor to see inside the stomach. Second, a sample of tissue can be removed for testing, called a biopsy. This is done during the endoscopy procedure, in which a tool is sent down through the flexible tube, allowing the doctor to remove a sample of the suspicious tissue.
In some cases, treatment may not even be necessary; this is true for polyps that aren’t likely to become cancerous. Typically, small polyps that aren’t adenomas don’t require treatment. However, periodic monitoring of the polyps is recommended by the doctor. If a polyp grows or starts to cause signs or symptoms, it can and probably should be removed. In fact, polyps can be removed through an endoscopy exam done in a doctor’s office. The last form of treatment has to do with hyperplastic polyps; if you have gastritis caused by H. pylori bacteria (which in turn causes polyps), treating the bacteria with an antibiotic may also make the polyps disappear.
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