A polyp, in medical terms is defined as the growth of a tissue on top of a mucous membrane. It is called as a pedunculated polyp if the attachment to the surface is by a narrow elongated stalk. In the absence of a stalk, it is called sessile. Polyps usually occur in colon, stomach, nose, urinary bladder and uterus.
Mostly, polyps are benign (non-cancerous). However, since they are formed because of abnormal growth of cells, some cases may lead to cancer. In order to find out if a polyp is cancerous or not, biopsy is performed.
A few common kinds of polyps along with their symptoms are mentioned below-
1. Aural Polyps: It is formed on the outside of an ear canal. The causes include inflammation, a cyst, a foreign body or a tumor. Loss of hearing ability and discharge of blood are the symptoms.
2. Cervical Polyps: These grow on the part of the uterus connecting to vagina. They are usually found in women who have an age of 20 years or more and have had a delivery. Abnormal bleeding and a heavy menstruation cycle are the few symptoms.
3. Colonic Polyps: They are usually non-cancerous but colorectal cancer can develop from a benign polyp. Constipation, diarrhoea, blood in the excreta and pain during excretion are the various symptoms. Colonoscopy screenings are usually recommended because such polyps often show no symptoms.
4. Uterine Polyps: They are usually benign. Mostly, women over the age of 40 years develop uterine polyps. It can develop even after menopause. Often there are no symptoms but irregular menstruation is considered as a symptom.
The treatment procedure for polyps considers quite a few factors like:
- Whether the particular polyp is cancerous or not
- The number of polyps found
- The location of polyps inside the human body
- Size of the concerned polyp
There are polyps which don’t require any treatment process. There are a few polyps which are still removed to completely eradicate the chances of cancer because of abnormal tissue growth.
Tests and diagnosis
The diagnosis of polyps involves a biopsy. In the biopsy, a small sample of the concerned tissue is removed and it is analyzed under a microscope. The various biopsies are dependent on the location of the polyp. A few biopsies are mentioned below:
- Colonoscopy: Practiced for polyps found in the large intestine.
- Colposcopy: Practiced for polyps found in the cervix or vagina.
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy: Carried out for polyps found in small intestine or the stomach.
If the area where the polyp is located is easy to reach, the biopsy is carried out simply by removing a small tissue sample from that area and its analysis is carried out under a high power microscope.
In order to reduce the risk of developing a polyp, one must adapt to a lifestyle given below:
1. Intake of a healthy diet including fruits and whole grains
2. Decreasing the amount of fat in the diet
3. Limiting the intake of alcoholic drinks
4. Good physical exercises
5. Not eating tobacco
6. Avoid nasal irritants
7. Practice good hygiene
8. Manage allergies