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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Polyps

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Polyps in uterus and DES [posted 1/11/99]
Question: I have recently been diagnosed as having polyps in my uterus. Is this a complication from my mom taking DES while pregnant with me? Does this condition lead to cancer?

Answer: Possibly, but probably not. Although you are at some higher risk for cancer of the uterus.

Polyps [posted 8/4/98]
Question: Please define a polyp and how they occur?

Answer: Polyps are small growths that occur usually on epithelial tissue. They look like small mushrooms and tend to grow at a fairly slow rate. Some of them can transform the "tip" to cancer (particularly colon) and we look for and remove these. Others, (like nasal polyps) rarely become cancerous. They are firm fleshy growths. The reason for their occurrence is currently not known, but they tend to run in families.

Nasal Polyps
Question: What are Nasal Polyps?

Answer: Nasal polyps are benign growths in the nasal passages. They tend to run in families and there is a curious syndrome seen in some people with nasal polyps. This is aspirin sensitivity, nasal polyps, and asthma. There are some physicians who believe that the aspirin sensitivity or asthma may be brought out by removing the polyps. Data here is scanty. Generally, they are surgically removed once they begin to block the nasal passages. Occasionally, nasal steroids on a regular basis will shrink these polyps.

Question: I recently had a cervical polyp removed. It is being biopsed and I will find out the results in two weeks. What causes such a polyp to grow? What are the chances that it is cancerous?

Answer: There are different types of cells in your body. In general, the lining of "hollow" organs like the uterus consists of columnar epithelium. These cells tend to hypertrophy and grow into "polyps". These can occur in the nose, colon, gall bladder, etc. We really don't know the inciting cause, although they tend to run in families. Polyps of the uterus are rarely cancerous, but a pathology examination is always necessary.

Rectal Polyp
Question: I have a rectal polyp and have plans to have it removed in the near future. What exactly is a polyp, how did it form, is there any danger in having it, and can it turn into a cancer if untreated?

Answer: Polyps usually take 2 to 3 years to form. It is initially a benign growth resembling a mushroom. After some time, cancer will form in the top or head of the polyp and grow back sown the stalk into the colon. This will usually take 5 to 6 years, although there is variability based on the aggressiveness of the cancer. These should be removed if found, especially if adenomatous type.

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