Pathology dictionary

What is a polyp?

A polyp is an abnormal growth of cells that sticks out from a surface of a tissue, often into a body cavity or open space.  Polyps may be found in the colon, stomach, and uterus, as well as a number of other organs.

Most polyps are non-cancerous (benign) growths but but some are made up of pre-cancerous or even cancerous (malignant) cells. Polyps made up of pre-cancerous cells are called precursors because they have the potential to turn into a cancer over time.

Polyp is not a diagnosis by itself. Polyp is a description and the diagnosis depends on the location of the polyp and the types of cells in the polyp.

Common locations for polyps include the colon and the endometrium.

Pathologists often use the word polypoid to describe an abnormal piece of tissue that shares some but not all of the features of a polyp.

Learn more about common types of polyps

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