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What is the difference between a polyp and a tumor: cyst, polyp, and tumor – Students | Britannica Kids

cyst, polyp, and tumor – Students | Britannica Kids


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 Growth is necessary to sustain life. Even in adulthood, the body is constantly growing new cells as old ones die. Some kinds of growth, however, are abnormal. Cysts, polyps, and tumors are abnormal growths that have the potential of interfering with functioning of the body.



A cyst is a closed cavity or sac lined with a thin layer of covering tissue called epithelium. Cysts usually contain a liquid or semisolid material and can grow on virtually any part of the body but may produce no symptoms of disease. Often cysts must be removed, however, because they can interfere with surrounding organs. Their contents may be normal body secretions or substances such as bacteria, parasites, or other foreign material. Some organs, especially the kidney, liver, and breast, are particularly susceptible to the growth of cysts and may develop several at one time. Some cysts may be forerunners of cancer.

Common types of cysts include adventitious cysts, which develop around foreign material such as a splinter or parasite; dermoid cysts, which develop in bone, teeth, or skin tissue; exudation cysts, which form around blood that has seeped into a body cavity; and retention cysts, which form when the duct of a gland is closed such as in the blockage of a sebaceous gland, or oil gland in the skin.


Stephen Holland, M.D.

A polyp is a type of tumor that protrudes from mucous membranes, or tissues that line certain body passages and cavities. It may have a broad base or be attached to the tissue by a long narrow neck. The surface may be irregular, lobed, or smooth. The most common locations for polyps are the nasal passages, urinary bladder, and intestinal tract.

Often polyps cause no symptoms of illness, depending on their location and size. When symptoms occur they usually arise from the mechanical obstruction of a duct or passageway or pressure on an organ or tissue. Occasionally polyps bleed. Polyps are usually benign, or noncancerous, growths, but some contain cancers. About 25 percent of people who develop colon or rectal cancer also have histories of intestinal polyps, so polyps may be a forerunner of cancer.


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The term tumor was once used to describe any swelling. However, the word is now used specifically to describe any abnormal growth of new tissue by any of the body’s cells. Tumors, also called neoplasms, are classified as either benign or malignant. Benign tumors grow slowly and stay in one place. Skin moles and warts are examples of the simplest types of benign tumor. In contrast, malignant, or cancerous, tumors usually grow rapidly and can spread to distant tissues by a process called metastasis. Metastasis occurs when some of the cancer cells detach themselves from the tumor and travel to another part of the body, usually through the blood or lymph vessels.

Benign tumors sometimes look and behave like the parent cells from which they grew. For example, tumors of the pituitary gland will secrete growth hormone causing a disorder called acromegaly. Benign tumors can be as fatal as malignant ones when they grow on a vital organ. Gliomas, or brain tumors, for example, can grow large enough to press against and destroy areas in the brain that govern vital functions.

Some benign tumors become malignant by a process that is not understood, and some are forerunners of malignancy. An example of the latter is a benign tumor of the uterus, called hydatidiform mole, which often appears before an extremely malignant tumor called choriocarcinoma.

Most malignant tumors are classified as carcinomas or sarcomas. Carcinomas develop from epithelial and endothelial tissue, such as the breast, skin, and lung, and metastasize primarily to nearby tissues through the lymph system. Sarcomas arise from mesoderm tissue, such as muscle, cartilage, and bone, and metastasize through the bloodstream.

A great deal of research is devoted to discovering why healthy tissues suddenly begin to form tumors. Scientists know that some of the body’s cells secrete a growth-promoting substance, or growth factor, when the cells are stimulated with certain chemicals. Scientists have developed genetic probes that can detect these growth factors, and monoclonal antibodies (laboratory-made copies of natural antibodies) to block certain growth factors. Scientists also know that tumor cells secrete proteins that promote the growth of new blood vessels, or angiogenesis, into the tumor to nourish it. Cancer cells also produce another type of protein that inhibits the growth of blood vessels. It would appear that a balance between angiogenesis inhibitors and angiogenesis stimulators determines whether a tumor begins to develop these blood vessels. Work on developing angiogenesis inhibitors is an important area of research.

William A. Check


Understanding Polyps and Their Treatment

What Is a Colon Polyp?

are benign growths (noncancerous tumors or neoplasms) involving the lining of the bowel. They can occur in several locations in the gastrointestinal tract but are most common in the colon. They vary in size from less than a quarter of an inch to several
inches in diameter. They look like bumps growing from the inside lining of the bowel protruding out. They sometimes grow on a “stalk” and look like mushrooms. Some polyps can be flat. People can have several polyps scattered in different
parts of the colon. Some polyps can contain cancer, although the vast majority of polyps do not. Larger polyps are more likely to become cancerous than smaller ones.

How Common Are Colon Polyps? What Causes Them?

While uncommon in 20 year olds, more than 40% of persons over 50 have precancerous polyps in the colon. Smoking, obesity, diabetes, and inadequate exercise are risk factors for polyps, but many people with none of these risk factors have precancerous
polyps in the colon. There are genetic risk factors for developing polyps as well.

What Are Known Risks for Developing Polyps?

The biggest risk factor for developing polyps is being older than 50. A family history of colon polyps or colon cancer increases the risk of polyps. Also, people with a personal history of polyps or colon cancer are at higher risk of developing new polyps in the future than a person who has never had a polyp. In addition, there are some rare “syndromes” that run in families which increase the risk of forming polyps and cancers, even at younger ages.

There are two common types: hyperplastic polyp and adenoma. The hyperplastic polyp is not at risk for cancer. The adenoma, however, is thought to be the precursor (origin) for almost all colon cancers, although most adenomas never become cancers. Histology
examination of tissue under a microscope) is the best way to differentiate between hyperplastic and adenomatous polyps.

Although it’s impossible to tell which adenomatous polyps will become cancers, larger polyps are more
likely to become cancers and some of the largest ones (those larger than 1 inch) can already contain small areas of cancer. Because your doctor cannot be certain of the tissue type by the polyp’s appearance, doctors generally recommend removing
all polyps found during a colonoscopy.

How Are Polyps Found?

Most polyps cause no symptoms. Larger ones can cause blood in the stools, but even they are usually asymptomatic. Therefore, the best way to detect polyps is by screening individuals with no symptoms. Several other screening techniques are available:
testing stool specimens for traces of blood, performing sigmoidoscopy to look into the lower third of the colon, or using a radiology test such as a barium enema or CT colonography. If one of these tests finds or suspects polyps, your doctor will
generally recommend colonoscopy to remove them. Because colonoscopy is the most accurate way to detect polyps, many experts now recommend colonoscopy as a screening method so that any polyps found or suspected can be removed during the same procedure.

How Are Polyps Removed?

Almost all precancerous polyps found during colonoscopy can be completely removed during the procedure. Various removal techniques are available; most involve removing them with a wire loop or biopsy forceps, sometimes using electric current. This is called polyp resection or polypectomy. Because the bowel’s lining isn’t sensitive to cutting or burning, polyp resection doesn’t cause discomfort.

What Are the Risks of Polyp Removal?

Polyp removal (or polypectomy) during colonoscopy is a routine outpatient procedure. Possible complications, which are uncommon, include bleeding from the polypectomy site and perforation (a hole or tear)  of the colon. Bleeding from the polypectomy site can be immediate or delayed for several days; persistent bleeding can almost always be stopped by treatment during a repeat colonoscopy. Perforations rarely occur and can sometimes be closed with clips during the colonoscopy, but other times require surgery to repair.

How Often Do I Need a Colonoscopy if I Have Polyps Removed?

The timing of your next colonoscopy depends on several factors, including the type, number and size of polyps removed. The quality of cleansing affects your doctor’s ability to see the inside surface of the colon where polyps form. If your colon is inadequately cleansed,  your doctor may recommend repeating a colonoscopy sooner. Your doctor will decide when your next colonoscopy is necessary.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: The preceding information is intended only to provide general information and not as a definitive basis for diagnosis or treatment in any particular case. It is very important that you consult your doctor about your specific condition.

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5 signs of how to distinguish a polyp from colon cancer

Every year, more than 1 million people on the planet find out that they have colon cancer – and more than half of them, unfortunately, find out too late . .. As a rule, the disease begins with a tiny growth on the mucosa – a polyp. This is a benign tumor, but not at all harmless. Years later, it can mutate into oncology.

Medicine has not yet established why exactly polyps appear. But there is a method that allows you to detect them at an early stage and remove them in time. This method is videocolonoscopy. But how to understand that it’s time to rush to the examination? A number of symptoms may indicate this.

Stages of polyp development:

  1. Bleeding from the large intestine. Passing through the intestine, the food bolus can touch the polyps, injure them and cause bleeding. In this case, the patient may find traces of blood on the underwear or notice an admixture of blood in the stool. With this symptom, it is recommended to immediately consult a doctor.
  2. Constipation. Especially often observed with already large, overgrown polyps – they reduce the lumen of the intestine, making it difficult to move the stool. Stomach ache. They can be aching, bursting, cramping and intensify during the act of defecation.
  3. Slime. It can be found in feces. If it is present, skin irritation, itching and burning in the anus area usually appear. In addition, mucus can lead to bowel failure. Patients with polyposis (multiple intestinal polyps) often suffer from constipation or diarrhea.
  4. General weakness. Colon polyps cause internal bleeding and, as a result, cause anemia. It is manifested by rapid fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and pallor of the skin.

If at least one of the symptoms does not give you rest, you need to urgently contact a specialist and undergo an examination. It is possible that the matter is not in the polyps at all. You should not be surprised – similar problems can be observed in many diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. But the more valuable the possibilities of video colonoscopy – the procedure will dispel doubts and give the most objective picture of the state of health.

What if there are no symptoms? So there is nothing to worry about?

This is one of the most common and dangerous misconceptions. There is no way to argue like that! Polyps are insidious, they grow slowly and give themselves out as symptoms, as a rule, already at an advanced stage. That is, if a person has a reason to suspect polyps, most likely, these growths have been “living” inside the intestines for a long time, have reached large sizes, and it cannot be ruled out that degeneration into cancer has begun.

Can polyps be prevented?

There are no preventive measures that will give a 100% guarantee. Polyps occur in people of different ages and genders, among townspeople and residents of ecologically clean villages. However, general recommendations can still be made to mitigate the risks. For the sake of health, it is worth giving up bad habits, keeping your weight normal, introducing foods rich in vegetable fiber, vitamin D and calcium into your diet. Yes, and no fatty foods with alcohol at the same time.

Who should get tested first?

Unfortunately, no one is immune from polyps and bowel cancer. Once again, none. The disease is unpredictable. And yet, it can be really taken under control – that’s why doctors so strongly recommend regular video colonoscopy. Especially for people over 45 years of age – with age-related changes, the risk of polyps formation doubles. Also at high risk are people who have had inflammatory bowel disease, with poor heredity, obesity, diabetes, lovers of alcohol and cigarettes.

Where to be examined?

At the Alone Clinic. 4 endoscopists of the highest category, 5 gastroenterologists and 5 proctologists work here. You can undergo a complete examination of the gastrointestinal tract in just 1 day. Or make an appointment with a specific specialist, undergo a video colonoscopy and find out if there are polyps in the intestines.

The only way to get rid of polyps is to remove them. But do not be afraid of incisions or pain. All manipulations take place inside the body using an endoscope and a microcamera. Even tiny polyps will be found and removed right during the examination. At the request of the patient, the procedure can be performed under medical sleep and under the supervision of an anesthesiologist.

In the “Alone” Clinic, you can take care of your health in a comfortable environment, without queues, by making an appointment and examination on any convenient day of the week.

Sign up for a consultation by phone in Kirov: (8332) 32-7777
or through the form on the website

Colon polyps and villous tumors

These neoplasms are most often found in the large intestine.

The following groups of intestinal polyps are distinguished: juvenile, hyperplastic, hamartomatous, adenomatous (tubular, villous, inflammatory).

Adenomatous polyps have the highest risk of becoming malignant – colorectal cancer.

Causal factors:

• hereditary predisposition (there are data on family cases of polyposis)
• impaired embryonic development of the intestine
• advanced age
• sedentary lifestyle
• bad habits (alcohol abuse, smoking)
• dietary habits (weeks balance in fiber diet, excess fatty foods)
• chronic inflammatory bowel disease (colitis, enteritis, proctitis and others)
• atherosclerotic disease;
• infectious factor (dysentery, typhoid fever)

Clinical picture

In the initial stages, as well as in the presence of one small polyp, an asymptomatic course is possible

In other cases (with polyp growth, bleeding, malignancy), the patient is worried about pain in the abdomen, violation and soreness of the act of defecation, the appearance of feces with an admixture of mucus, blood, pus. In the presence of polyps in the lower sections of the large intestine, there are complaints of discomfort, pain in the anus, detection of blood during defecation. There may also be a change in the nature and frequency of stools in the form of diarrhea or constipation.

The “gold” standard for the diagnosis and treatment of polyps and villous tumors of the colon is colonoscopy (link to colonoscopy).

Treatment of the disease

Conservative therapy for intestinal polyps is ineffective and does not give positive results.

The main method of treatment of polyps and villous tumors of the colon is endoscopic.

Polyps are removed (polypectomy) using an endoscope. Usually, all colonoscopy studies of the colon, including endoscopic removal of polyps, are practically not accompanied by discomfort. In our clinic, all types of endoscopic operations to remove polyps and tumors of the colon, including creeping tumors and tumors with a wide base, are performed at the most modern level.