What are stomach polyps?

Stomach polyps are tiny growths that form on the inner lining of your stomach. They are also known as “gastric polyps.” Stomach polyps are most often found when a person has an upper endoscopy for another health reason. An upper endoscopy is a test that lets a doctor look at the lining of the upper digestive tract.

Many stomach polyps do not cause any symptoms. But it is important to diagnose and treat them because some polyps can turn into cancer.

What causes stomach polyps?

There are different types of stomach polyps. They can be caused by different things. Stomach polyps might:

  • Be caused by another health condition – Examples include “H. pylori” infection and certain types of gastritis (irritation of the stomach).
  • Form near a sore or hole in the stomach wall – These can include peptic ulcers or surgical openings (for example, if a person has a feeding tube).
  • Be related to long-term use of a medicine called a “proton pump inhibitor” or “PPI” – These medicines reduce the amount of acid the stomach makes.
  • Run in families – You might be more likely to have stomach polyps if you have family members who also have them. There are specific genes that can run in families that increase the risk of polyps.

What are the symptoms of stomach polyps?

Stomach polyps often cause no symptoms. When symptoms do happen, they can include belly pain, diarrhea, or throwing up. Some people have weight loss or blood in their vomit or bowel movements.

Large stomach polyps can block the opening from the stomach into the small intestine. They can also cause you to feel full without eating a lot of food.

How are stomach polyps treated?

When a doctor finds a stomach polyp, they will check it carefully and look closely at the area around the polyp. The doctor might do a biopsy, which involves taking a sample of tissue to look at under a microscope. This way they can learn more about the type of polyp and the risk of it becoming cancer. They might also remove the polyp.

Treatment of stomach polyps depends on the number, type, size, and location of the polyps. Other things that might guide treatment include your age and risk for stomach cancer. (Your risk depends on your health, including whether you have gastritis, and whether you have had relatives with cancer.)

Depending on your situation, your doctor might recommend:

  • Removing the polyp or polyps right away
  • Checking a polyp to see if it changes over time
  • Doing regular tests to look for new polyps

Depending on what has caused your polyps, your doctor might recommend other treatment, too. For example, you might need treatment for an H. pylori infection.

In rare cases, stomach polyps can be cancerous. In this case, the doctor might have to remove part or all of your stomach.