What are polyps?

Polyps are growths or neoformations that originate on the mucosal surface. In fact, they can form in the nose, stomach, intestine and uterus. They have a round shape and a smooth surface. Polyps, solitary or multiple, can be pedunculated, if they are attached to the organ by a connective shaft covered by a mucosa, or sessile, if they are slightly protruding. The presence of several polyps in one or more sites gives rise to pathologies called polyposis. Some polyps can be considered precancerous formations and have a malignant evolution, especially those of the colon.

What are the symptoms of polyps?

Polyps are, in most cases, asymptomatic, which is why they are often diagnosed by chance. When they occur, symptoms vary according to their location: polyps of the uterine cavity can cause hemorrhage; polyps in the larynx can cause voice alteration; large intestinal polyps can cause intussusception; nasal polyps cause obstruction, rhinorrhea and loss of smell; polyps of the urethral meatus, which mainly affect older women, can cause pain, hemorrhage and difficulty in urination.

What are the causes of polyps?

The causes are still uncertain. Nasal polyps are hypothesized to be due to allergies, asthma, cystic fibrosis, sinusitis, pollution and drugs. Uterine polyps, on the other hand, are associated with estrogenic disturbances, as the most affected women seem to be premenopausal women. The causes of intestinal polyps appear to be related to an unhealthy lifestyle (a diet rich in red meat, obesity, sedentary lifestyle), old age and heritability. Heritability also plays an important role in the case of stomach polyps, whose causes also include chronic inflammation of the stomach, H. Pylori infection and old age. Finally, for bladder polyps, hypothetical causes are smoking, exposure to pollutants and contamination, and schistosomiasis (parasitic disease).

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How are they diagnosed?

Polyps are often diagnosed accidentally. Polyps of the uterus, urethral meatus and nose can be directly observed; polyps of the rectum can be identified by rectal palpation. Today, diagnosis is carried out endoscopically: hysteroscopy is used for uterine polyps, colonoscopy for colon polyps, laryngoscopy for laryngeal polyps and cystoscopy for bladder polyps. A biopsy is used to determine the precancerous or non-cancerous nature of the polyp.

What is the treatment?

The intervention for the removal of polyps is called polypectomy and can also be performed by endoscopy. Measures to prevent colon cancer include the removal of intestinal polyps as soon as they are discovered.