What are Stomach Polyps?

Stomach polyps

are abnormal growth of cells from the inner membranous lining of the stomach. These are also called gastric polyps. The said condition is rare and can be without any symptoms. They are mostly found incidentally while investigating any other condition.

These generally occur in multiples. They occur in men and women equally. The condition is found to occur more in patients over 60 years. Most gastric polyps are benign masses. However, some gastric polyps do have the potential of turning cancerous. Hyper-plastic, Inflammatory and Fundic gland polyps are non cancerous whereas adenomatous polyps are cancerous. 90% of the stomach polyps belong to the former category, only 10 % being cancerous.

<img src="http://digestion.ygoy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Fundic-gland-polyps.jpg" alt="Fundic gland polyps" style="float:right;margin-left:5px" /

Symptoms of Stomach Polyps

  • Stomach polyps do not cause any symptoms.
  • They may grow in size and have ulcers and lesions on its surface.
  • The polyps may end up blocking the opening to the intestine and cause a gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • Abdominal pain and tenderness in the abdomen.
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding .
  • Dyspepsia or Indigestion.
  • Nausea and Vomiting.

What are the different types of Gastric Polyps?

  • Hyperplastic Polyps

    : The inflammation in the stomach lining as in inflammatory bowel disease or gastritis is a classic background of hyperplastic polyps. Most of them are unlikely to become cancerous. However, the ones larger in size (more than 2 cms in diameter) can be cancerous. It has been associated with the presence of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori causing chronic gastritis.

  • Fundic Gland Polyps

    : These form from the glandular cells called fundus in the inner lining of the stomach. This condition is often found in people with a family history of the syndrome, namely, Familial Adenomatous Polyposis. It can also occur randomly in individuals without any history of FAP. In people with FAP, there are chances that the polyps will develop into stomach cancer. Prolonged use of proton pump inhibitors (drugs which block gastric acids) are also associated with fundic gland polyps.

  • Inflammatory Polyps

    : These occur at the junction of the stomach and small intestine or may occur at the site of a previous surgery. These polyps occur because of the bacteria Helicobacter Pylori.

  • Adenomas

    : This is the type that develops into malignancy. They form from the glandular cells in the inside lining of the stomach. Abnormal mutations in the cells of the polyps in the stomach wall makes them cancerous. Adenomas can be present along with stomach inflammation and FAP.

What increases the risks of gastric polyps?

  • Increasing age

    : Age increases the susceptibility to develop gastric polyps.

  • Infection

    : Bacterial infection of the intestine especially with strains of the bacteria helicobacter pylori may lead to the development of polyps and adenomas.

  • Prolonged use of medications

    : Prolonged use of Proton Pump Inhibitors which work on the parietal cells of the stomach lining inhibiting the production of gastric acids can cause the formation of polyps.

  • Inherited Condition

    : Familial Adenomatous Polyposis is an inherited condition and can predispose one to the said condition.

Treatment of Stomach Polyps

  • Gastrointestinal bacterial infection (H. Pylori) causing polyps needs to be addressed with antibiotics. The antibiotics will ensure that the underlying cause of the polyp is taken care of and dealt with.
  • Stopping the use of proton pump inhibitors is absolutely essential to treat polyps. Alternately, H2 blockers or histamine blockers can be tried to manage excess gastric acid secretion.
  • A surgical treatment may be required to draw tissue from the polyp and conduct a biopsy. The biopsy results can only say whether a polyp is benign or malignant.
  • Polypectomy is the procedure which is conducted to remove polyps. Larger polyps which have a chance of becoming malignant are generally pinched out with the help of an endoscope. Abnormal tissue development or dysplasia in the polyps make them an ideal candidate for removal. About 20% of the polyps removed will show signs of dysplasia.
  • Individuals with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis and having gastric polyps are advised to go for regular cancer screening. Family members of the patient with FAP should ideally be checked for signs of this inherited condition.

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