What is a polyp?

James D. Lewis
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

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Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
So much talk about polyps! What is a polyp? Please explain. 

James D. Lewis, MD, MSCE, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Senior Scholar at the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Senior Fellow in the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

A polyp is a growth in the colon. There are several types of polyps. Some are referred to as adenomatous polyps. These are considered to be precancerous, meaning that given enough time, most would progress to cancer. Others are not precancerous, meaning that they probably have little or no risk of becoming a cancer. Importantly, we know that removal of the precancerous polyps dramatically reduces the chances that a person will develop colon cancer.

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