November 5, 2023


A polyp is an abnormal growth of cells that sticks out from the surface of a tissue, often into a body cavity or open space.  These growths are commonly found in the colon, stomach, sinonasal cavity, and uterus, although they can develop almost anywhere in the body. Most types of polyps are benign (non-cancerous) growths but some are made up of pre-cancerous or even malignant (cancerous) cells. A growth made up of pre-cancerous cells is called a precursor because it has the potential to turn into cancer over time.

The term polyp is a description and not a diagnosis because it does not say anything about the type of growth or its microscopic features. Indeed, to make a final diagnosis, your pathologist needs to know the location of the growth and some or all of the tissue must be examined under the microscope.

Common types of polyps

Sinonasal tract

About this article

This article was written by doctors to help you read and understand your pathology report. Contact us if you have questions about this article or your pathology report. For a complete introduction to your pathology report, read this article.

Other helpful resources

Atlas of pathology
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