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What Is a Juvenile Polyp?

Article Details
  • Written By: C. Daw
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A juvenile polyp is a growing section of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract that can cause numerous problems in the person affected by it. This tract includes the stomach, the small intestines, the colon, and the rectum. This type of polyp is fairly small, similar to the size and shape of a pea, and when there are more than five present it is considered to be a juvenile polyposis.

Some of the common signs of a juvenile polyp are rectal bleeding, diarrhea, and various levels of abdominal pain. Even though most of these polyps are harmless, except for the listed symptoms, there is always a possibility that they will turn into tumors. When they are present it has been shown that there is a 35% chance that some type of cancer can form. The common types are colorectal, gastric, pancreatic, and upper gastro intestinal cancer. The more polyps that are present, and the longer that they are left untreated, the higher the chance is that a cancerous tumor will form.

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An alteration within the genes of the body is the main cause of a juvenile polyp forming within the gastrointestinal tract. In order to understand the concept behind this, it must be known that in most people, the basic cell has two working genes, the BMPR1A and the SMAD4. The problem begins when people are born with a deficiency in this area, and as they grow only one gene is present. After they age, the second gene will begin working, which effectively changes the main genes within the body. This change will cause extra growth of the adenomatous tissue which causes a juvenile polyp to form.

Blood tests will be done when a juvenile polyp is formed because this disease can be passed down from one generation to the next. Studies have shown that adults that have this problem have a 50% chance of passing down to their children, so regular testing will be done upon them in order to catch the polyps before they get to a critical stage. Even with a blood test, though, not all cases are apparent until later in their growth, so the various other symptoms need to be watched for.

Once a juvenile polyp is found, yearly screening is required to ensure that they are not persistent. Surgery will be performed to remove them, and various tests will be conducted to tell if the polyps are cancerous, and to ensure that the tumors have not spread into other areas of the body. Children with parents that have this medical problem will usually begin receiving regular testing once they become teenagers, and then every year from then on.

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