Several factors distinguish the different types of polyps. The factors include the location of the polyp on the body, whether the polyp is hyperplastic or adenomatous, and the polyp's growth pattern, according to the American Cancer Society.
All polyps are abnormal tissue growths, states Healthline. Polyps can grow in ears, the nose, cervix, uterus, stomach or colon. Hyperplastic polyps are typically benign, claims the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. Adenomatous polyps, especially large ones, are believed to be precursors to cancer, though not all adenomatous polyps develop into cancer.
Polyp tissue and growth patterns distinguish hyperplastic from adenomatous polyps. The adenoma has two predominant growth patterns, tubular and villous, or some anomalous combination of both. The adenoma with a villous growth pattern is usually larger than one with a tubular growth pattern, larger than a hyperplastic polyp, and more likely than both to become cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Sessile and serrated are descriptions of a polyp's actual appearance, according to the American Cancer Society. These descriptions surface if applicable in a pathologist's report of biopsied polyps. Sessile polyps appear broad-based and flattened. Serrated polyps are ridged or sawtoothed.
Generally, polyps are asymptomatic, but large gastrointestinal polyps may cause blood in the stools, states the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. Knowing the location, size, growth pattern, and whether benign or cancerous helps determine the type of polyp and the appropriate course of treatment.