Like other polyps, a sessile polyp is caused by abnormal cell growth, which can be triggered by a variety of factors. Some of these factors are preventable, and some are not. Among the factors that contribute to the development of a sessile polyp are age, race, a family history of polyps, smoking, obesity and certain digestive conditions.
All polyps develop because cells have grown in an abnormal way. Although cancer occurs in a similar manner, that does not mean that all polyps are cancerous, although they can become malignant. The larger the polyp, the more likely it is to become cancerous.
Sessile polyps are one of several types of polyps. A sessile polyp generally is large and flat in shape, as opposed to other polyps that might be mushroom-shaped and contain a stalk. Although polyps are generally thought of as developing in the colon, they also can occur in the stomach, nose, uterus, sinus, bladder and elsewhere in the body. Colon polyps are perhaps the most feared type of polyp because of the increased risk of colon cancer that occurs.
Although sessile polyps don’t have one singular root cause, there are certain factors that put one at greater risk for developing sessile polyps. People older than age 40 have increased risk, as do those who have a family history of polyps, sessile or otherwise. Someone who suffers from a chronic colon or digestive condition, such as Crohn’s disease, is more likely to develop polyps.
Certain genetic mutations can make one prone to polyps. Smoking and obesity have been linked to a greater risk of polyps. Race also can be a factor. People of African descent might be more likely to develop polyps.
Symptoms of sessile polyps are varied and depend on which part of the body is affected. Polyps might cause discomfort or bleeding, but they often have no symptoms at all. Treatment for sessile polyps depends on the extent of the condition. Smaller, benign polyps are often simply left alone. Larger or cancerous polyps are removed by forceps or a simple surgical procedure.
One can reduce the chances of developing a sessile polyp by mitigating the risk factors that are preventable, such as not smoking and avoiding obesity. In addition, studies have shown that a sufficient intake of vitamin D can help, in addition to eating a fibrous diet. Eating red meat and getting plenty of exercise also are beneficial.
Screenings are also crucial to catching sessile polyps early in their development. People 50 or older should have regular colonoscopies to detect polyps. Polyps that are detected early can be removed by a surgeon, which can prevent complications such as the development of cancer.