What Causes Polyps in the Duodenum?

C. Webb

Most polyps found at the beginning of the small intestine, also called the duodenum, remain symptomless until they grow large enough in size to cause bleeding, stomach pain, or vomiting. The majority of duodenum polyps are discovered during unrelated medical examinations. While polyps in the duodenum are usually benign, some become malignant or cancerous.

Biopsies on surgically removed polyps may be performed to determine whether a patient has cancer.
Biopsies on surgically removed polyps may be performed to determine whether a patient has cancer.

Biopsies on surgically removed polyps determine whether the patient has cancer. Once a patient is found to have polyps in the duodenum, regular check-ups are recommended to monitor the possibility of new growths. The physician will determine the frequency of testing for each patient. Several possible causes exist for polyps to develop in the duodenum.

Alcoholics may be more susceptible to developing duodenum polyps.
Alcoholics may be more susceptible to developing duodenum polyps.

Gastritis is believed to trigger stomach polyp growth in some patients. The inflammation of the stomach lining experienced with gastritis can be caused by viral or bacterial infections. Overuse of specific pain relievers, drinking too much alcohol, or injuries to the abdomen can also cause gastritis.

Overuse of pain relievers may lead to the development of polyps in the duodenum.
Overuse of pain relievers may lead to the development of polyps in the duodenum.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia is believed to be a precursor for duodenum polyp growth. This anemia creates a reduction of red blood cells. One cause for this anemia is insufficient amounts of vitamins C and B-12 in the diet. In addition, a body's inability to properly absorb vitamins can also cause the anemia.

Gastritis, or inflammation and irritation of stomach lining, may cause polyps.
Gastritis, or inflammation and irritation of stomach lining, may cause polyps.

Age is a factor when it comes to polyps developing in the duodenum. The majority of patients found to have such polyps are at least 60 years old. One exception to this is found in Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP). In FAP, which runs in families, young adults are also at risk for developing several hundred to several thousand polyps in their intestines. Patients with this disorder have duodenum polyp development in 80 percent of diagnosed FAP cases.

Polyps within the duodenum, which is part of the small intestine, are usually benign, but not always.
Polyps within the duodenum, which is part of the small intestine, are usually benign, but not always.

Virtually all patients with FAP will develop either stomach or colon cancer by the age of 40. Preventative treatment for FAP includes surgical removal of the colon and rectum. This surgery reduces the possibility of polyps in the duodenum.

Age is a factor when it comes to polyps developing on the duodenum.
Age is a factor when it comes to polyps developing on the duodenum.

When polyps in the duodenum are discovered, a decision is made about treatment. In many cases, they are removed and biopsied to check for malignancies. In some cases, the medical team decides to take a wait-and-watch approach. Regular check-ups are performed, and if more grow or existing polyps become larger, a biopsy is performed. Most polyps are removed during the biopsy, and no further treatment is needed.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia is believed to be a precursor for duodenum polyp growth.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia is believed to be a precursor for duodenum polyp growth.
Most polyps founds in the duodenum, remain symptomless until they grow large enough in size to cause bleeding, stomach pain, or vomiting.
Most polyps founds in the duodenum, remain symptomless until they grow large enough in size to cause bleeding, stomach pain, or vomiting.

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