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Gastric Polyps

Gastric Polyps is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Clinical Consult.

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Mucosal lesions projecting above the gastric surface and into the lumen of the stomach


  • Mostly benign with minimal malignant potential
  • Typically asymptomatic incidental findings on upper endoscopy (esophagogastroduodenoscopy [EGD])
  • Different types based on origin:
    • Epithelial (most common): fundic gland, hyperplastic, adenomas
    • Endocrine: carcinoid tumors
    • Infiltrative: xanthomas and lymphoid proliferations
    • Mesenchymal: gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), leiomyoma, fibroma, lipoma
    • Inflammatory fibroid polyp


  • Incidence ~6% in the United States
  • Male = female (1:1)
  • Frequency of polyp types:
    • Fundic gland: 13–77%
    • Hyperplastic: 18–70%
    • Adenoma: 0.5–3.75%
    • Carcinoid: <2%
    • Xanthoma: 0.3–3.9%
    • GIST: 1–3%
    • Inflammatory fibroid: 0.1–3%
    • Hamartomas: <1%
    • Others: <1%

Prevalence varies worldwide, estimated to be ~4% in United States. Fundic gland polyps (often arising in the setting of long-term proton-pump inhibitor [PPI] use) have become the dominant type. Polyps associated with Helicobacter pylori gastritis (hyperplastic and adenomatous) have become less common. Fundic gland polyps represent ~80% of polyps.

Geriatric Considerations
2/3 of gastric polyps are in patients >60 years old.

Pediatric Considerations
Gastric polyps are common in both children and adults with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) syndrome. Most often, these are fundic gland polyps.

Etiology and Pathophysiology

  • Fundic gland polyp
    • Sessile lesion usually <0.5 cm; found throughout the stomach
    • Very low risk for malignancy (except in FAP syndrome)
    • Associated with long-term PPI use
    • Histology shows dilated oxyntic glands, lined by flattened parietal and mucous cells.
  • Hyperplastic polyp
    • Smooth, rounded (typically multiple) lesions, usually in the antrum
    • 0.5 to 1.5 cm—can be much larger
    • Hyperregenerative response of epithelium in response to chronic inflammation (most commonly H. pylori)
    • Low risk for malignancy
      • Risk of malignancy in hyperplastic polyps increases with size ( >1 cm) and pedunculation.
      • Loss of p16 and increased Ki-67 expression may indicate dysplasia in hyperplastic polyps.
  • Adenomatous polyp (raised intraepithelial neoplasia)
    • Typically associated with chronic, atrophic gastritis
    • Velvety, lobulated, usually solitary lesion; most often found in the antrum; <2 cm
    • Considered to be premalignant
      • Malignant potential depends on size (>2 cm with 40–50% risk of malignant transformation) and degree of dysplasia and villous component.
  • Carcinoid polyp
    • Clusters of mucosal enterochromaffin cells; most often in the corpus or fundus
    • Risk for metastasis depends on size
    • Four distinct subtypes (type 1 most common)
  • Xanthoma
    • Small, yellow nodules or plaques that protrude from the surrounding pink gastric mucosa
    • Lipid-laden macrophages containing cholesterol and neutral fat loosely embedded in the lamina propria
    • No malignant potential
  • GIST
    • Neoplastic proliferations of interstitial cells of Cajal (or their precursors)
    • Well-circumscribed, submucosal lesions; most often in the fundus; median size 6 cm
    • Varying malignant potential based on size and mitotic activity
    • 50% of patients with GISTs >2 cm have metastatic disease at the time of presentation (usually liver).
  • Inflammatory fibroid polyp
    • Originates from submucosa; frequently with central depression or ulceration; 1 to 5 cm
    • No malignant potential
  • Hyperplastic and adenomatous polyps are associated with any inflammatory process causing chronic cell turnover.
  • Hamartomas
    • Abnormal growth of otherwise normal tissue
    • Benign; rarely invade or compress surrounding structures
  • All others: no known causes

  • Most have no known hereditary component.
  • Fundic gland polyps are associated with FAP arising from APC gene mutation.

Risk Factors

  • Increased incidence with age
  • Chronic gastritis: hyperplastic polyps
    • Chronic NSAID use, increased gastric secretions, erosions, or ulcers
  • Long-term PPI use: fundic gland polyps
  • H. pylori: hyperplastic and adenomatous polyps
  • BRAF inhibitors used to treat melanoma may increase the risk for hypertrophic gastric polyps.

Commonly Associated Conditions

  • Associated with certain familial syndromes
    • FAP: fundic gland polyps
    • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, juvenile polyposis, Cronkhite-Canada syndrome, Cowden disease: hamartoma
  • Carcinoid polyps
    • Type 1: achlorhydria, hypergastrinemia, and pernicious anemia
    • Type 2: Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, MEN1 syndrome

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Stephens, Mark B., et al., editors. "Gastric Polyps." 5-Minute Clinical Consult, 27th ed., Wolters Kluwer, 2019. Medicine Central, im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/816418/all/Gastric_Polyps.
Gastric Polyps. In: Stephens MB, Golding J, Baldor RA, et al, eds. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. 27th ed. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/816418/all/Gastric_Polyps. Accessed April 18, 2019.
Gastric Polyps. (2019). In Stephens, M. B., Golding, J., Baldor, R. A., & Domino, F. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Available from https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/816418/all/Gastric_Polyps
Gastric Polyps [Internet]. In: Stephens MB, Golding J, Baldor RA, Domino FJ, editors. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. [cited 2019 April 18]. Available from: https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/816418/all/Gastric_Polyps.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Gastric Polyps ID - 816418 ED - Stephens,Mark B, ED - Golding,Jeremy, ED - Baldor,Robert A, ED - Domino,Frank J, BT - 5-Minute Clinical Consult, Updating UR - https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/816418/all/Gastric_Polyps PB - Wolters Kluwer ET - 27 DB - Medicine Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -