Polyps are bits of extra cells that can grow in many of your tissues. Gastric polyps, or stomach polyps, are growths that develop in the lining of your stomach. In many cases, these polyps cause no symptoms and may not even pose a problem. But some polyps can lead to more serious conditions.
This article will discuss how stomach polyps form, the different types of gastric polyps, and what having these polyps might mean for your overall health.
All tissue in your body is made up of cells. Sometimes, these cells grow too much or where they’re not supposed to. When this happens, you can develop a polyp — a small protrusion of cells that extends from the typical borders of a tissue.
Gastric polyps are growths that develop from the lining of your stomach tissue. These polyps are usually harmless, and you might not even know you have one. About
Like polyps, cancers develop due to an unusual growth of cells. With cancer, cells can grow too fast, eventually taking over and destroying healthy tissues or organs. An estimated
There are several types of gastric polyps. They are classified by how and where they grow, and vary in how likely they are to lead to cancer or other conditions.
Fundic gland polyps (FGPs)
FGPs are the most common type of stomach polyp in people in the United States, making up
A 2021 review suggests FGPs are most common in families where colon cancer is prevalent. Scientists call this syndrome familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). According to a
Gastric hyperplastic polyps (GHPs)
GHPs are sometimes simply called hyperplastic polyps. According to a 2013 review, these are the
GHPs can form in people with histories of inflammation or infection in the stomach. They’re most common in areas where Helicobacter pylori infections are prevalent. H. pylori is a common bacteria that can lead to conditions like gastritis and peptic ulcers.
GHPs rarely develop into cancer, but it is possible.
Adenomatous polyps can develop anywhere in the stomach and tend to carry the highest risk of cancer. A 2013 review suggests they account for about
These growths can often be precursors to stomach cancers. They appear most often in people with stomach inflammation that can destroy the gastric lining. The risk of cancer with adenomatous polyps depends on the specific cells that make up the polyp, and usually the size of the polyp.
Most stomach polyps don’t cause any specific symptoms. They’re usually only found when you have a test called an upper endoscopy to examine your stomach tissues. There are many reasons why you might have an endoscopy, but these reasons aren’t necessarily related to the polyps.
Larger gastric polyps are usually the only ones that cause symptoms. These may include:
Your doctor will usually find a stomach polyp during an upper endoscopy. In this test, doctors use a long, thin tube with a camera on the end. They insert the tube through your mouth and down into your stomach. This tool lets your doctor examine — and possibly take samples of — your gastrointestinal tissue.
Doctors may do an upper endoscopy to find out why you are experiencing symptoms such as:
If your doctor finds a polyp during your endoscopy, they’ll remove a small piece of the polyp. This procedure is called a biopsy. Your doctor can do a biopsy using tools at the end of the endoscopy tube.
Once removed, this tissue will be examined under a microscope. Your doctor will be able to tell you specifically what type of polyp you have, and let you know if it might develop into cancer.
How doctors treat stomach polyps depends on the type of polyp and the symptoms you have. For all types of polyps, treatment begins by taking a sample of the polyp and examining it under a microscope. Very few polyps can be identified through visual inspection during an endoscopy.
Larger polyps tend to carry higher risks of developing into cancers. If your doctor finds a polyp that’s larger than 10 millimeters in diameter during an endoscopy, they may decide to remove it right away. This procedure is called polypectomy.
However, for most types of polyps, a biopsy is performed. From that point, you can expect the following steps for various types of polyps.
- Fundic gland polyps. If your doctor identifies the polyp as an FGP and does not find any changes to the normal tissue below it (dysplasia), no additional treatment is usually required. If it is larger than 10 millimeters (0.4 inches) in diameter, your doctor may decide to remove the polyp right away. If there is dysplasia in the tissue around the polyp, your doctor will examine you for familial cancers and may perform a colonoscopy.
- Gastric hyperplastic polyps. GHPs are usually just tested and examined, especially for H. pylori infection. In some cases, your doctor may want to follow up in 1 year with another endoscopy to check on the polyp. If it is still there after 1 year, or if dysplasia is found in the biopsy, the polyp may be removed.
- Adenomatous polyps. These polyps have a high risk of developing into cancer and are usually removed. If they are not removed during the initial endoscopy, your doctor will likely repeat the procedures to remove the polyp within 6 to 12 months from your first scope. Your doctor will also inspect, and may biopsy, areas around the polyp to check for additional dysplasia or cancer cells.
If your doctor finds infection or inflammation along with a polyp, they may prescribe medication.
This is most common in the case of an H. pylori infection. According to
- proton pump inhibitors, like lansoprazole (Prevacid), esomeprazole (Nexium), pantoprazole (Protonix), and rabeprazole (Aciphex)
- bismuth subsalicylate
There isn’t much you can do to treat or manage stomach polyps at home. If you have symptoms from your polyps, your doctor may recommend medications or diet changes. If your polyps are due to an H. pylori infection, you may be able to complement your antibiotic therapy with probiotic use or other alternative treatments.
Discuss any additional medications or supplements you want to try with your doctor before starting them.
There are several risk factors that can increase your chances of developing stomach polyps. Most of these are things you cannot change, like increasing age and a history of FAP.
Some types of polyps are also more common in people who take certain stomach medications like proton pump inhibitors. A
Talk with your doctor about your individual and family health history, and what risks you might have of developing stomach polyps or stomach cancer.
According to 2013 research,
If your doctor is concerned your polyps will return or grow into cancer, they’ll remove the polyp and test additional areas around it. You may need repeated endoscopies to monitor for new growths, or ongoing treatment if your polyp is already linked to cancer.