Uterine polyps, also known as endometrial polyps, are excessive growths found in the uterine lining. The condition may be asymptomatic but when apparent include abnormal bleeding. Leading London gynaecologist Mr Mahantesh Karoshi explains more about whether the small, soft bumps need to be removed.
The size of a uterine polyp can vary, from being as small as a seed to the size of a golf ball. Most polyps are not to be confused with cancer although a small percentage may turn into cancer later on. Symptoms can include:
The more the number of polyps, the higher the risk of pre-malignant and malignant transformation.
Uterine polyps tend to develop in pre or post-menopausal women.
The doctor will likely recommend the removal of the polyp and will send a tissue sample to the laboratory for analysis to check that it is not uterine cancer. A diagnosis is made by a hysteroscopy, a procedure where a thin telescope is inserted into the uterine cavity. This allows the surgeon to look inside the uterus. Following this procedure, and in the majority of cases, patients will be told that the polyps need to be removed.
Polyps can cause problems with fertility but it sometimes depends on where it is placed on the cervix. As polyps can stop a woman from getting pregnant or cause a miscarriage, they should be removed if the woman is trying to conceive.
Polyp removal is performed using a hysteroscopy or curette, the same instruments used for diagnosis. The polyp can be cut and retrieved at the same time. It is important that the base of the polyp has been completely excised as some studies have shown that the pre-malignant and malignant change can happen at the root of the polyp. Removal occurs on a day-case basis without an overnight stay in a hospital. Once removed, however, there is a chance that it can recur and the patient may need to have the treatment more than once. If the polyps contain cancerous cells, removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) is necessary.