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Difference Between Adenoma and Hyperplastic Polyp

An adenoma is a growth in the glands, that can happen in many organs. A hyperplastic polyp is a growth that can occur in the colon or stomach.

What is Adenoma?


An adenoma is a growth of tissue that happens in glands found in epithelial tissue of organs.

Location and size:

Adenomas can be found in many different organs including the colon, kidney, adrenal gland, thyroid gland, and the pituitary gland. Adenomas can be 10 mm or bigger in size.

Causes and risk factors:

Genetic mutations play a role in the development of adenomas. The mutation known as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is associated with adenoma formation. The inherited condition familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) causes colon adenomas. People may have a higher risk not only from having gene mutations but also if they are obese, eat unhealthy foods, and smoke.


The diagnosis of an adenoma relies on imaging tests such as CT scans and MRI, which will show the presence of a growth. A colonoscopy can detect adenomas in the colon.

Symptoms and complications:

The symptoms of an adenoma depend on its location. If they grow large, they can cause pain. An adenoma in the colon or rectum can cause rectal bleeding and one in the pituitary can cause headaches, problems with eyesight, and even hormone changes. While an adenoma is not initially cancerous there is an increased risk of them becoming cancerous in time.


It is often recommended that an adenoma be removed because of the cancer risk. In the case of colon adenomas, they can be removed during a colonoscopy if not too large. Large colon adenomas require surgery. Pituitary adenomas and adenomas in other parts of the body require surgical excision.

What is Hyperplastic Polyp?


A hyperplastic polyp is an abnormal growth that happens specifically inside organs of the gastrointestinal tract.

Location and size:

Hyperplastic polyps are found in digestive system organs where they arise from glands in the epithelial lining. They can occur in the stomach or colon. Unlike adenomas, hyperplastic polyps are usually much smaller, at about 5 mm or less in size.

Causes and risk factors:

These types of polyps are often caused by inflammation, such as having chronic gastritis, which is an inflammation of the stomach lining. It is also associated with H. pylori infection of the stomach that also leads to ulcers. Similarly, Crohn’s disease and IBD can lead to these polyps forming in the colon. Obesity, unhealthy eating habits, smoking, and drinking alcohol can increase the risk of hyperplastic polyps.


Diagnosis of a hyperplastic polyp relies on endoscopy or colonoscopy during which polyps can be observed and biopsied for testing.

Symptoms and complications:

Hyperplastic polyps often cause symptoms like pain, bleeding, or vomiting. A polyp in the stomach is likely to cause vomiting while rectal bleeding is a sign of a polyp in the colon. The main complication is blood loss, anemia and weight loss. Cancer is a very unlikely complication but any polyp should be investigated by a doctor.


Although hyperplastic polyps are unlikely to turn into malignant polyps, removal is sometimes a good idea, especially if they are causing symptoms. Usually, such polyps are easily removed during an endoscopy or colonoscopy.

Difference between Adenoma and Hyperplastic polyp


An adenoma is a type of growth that can develop in various organs. A hyperplastic polyp is a growth that is limited to the stomach or colon.


Adenomas can occur in multiple organs like the colon, pituitary, or kidneys. Hyperplastic polyps are found in the colon or stomach.


The cause of adenomas is not always known but is sometimes probably due to genetic mutations such as FAP and MEN1. The cause of hyperplastic polyps is often thought to be inflammatory conditions like gastritis, IBD, or Crohn’s disease.


The symptoms of adenoma varies depending on the organ it occurs in. The symptoms of hyperplastic polyps can include pain, vomiting, or rectal bleeding.

Cancer potential

The potential for adenoma to become cancer depends on what type it is, with potential varying from 5% to 25%. The potential for hyperplastic polyps turning cancerous is extremely low.

Table comparing Adenoma and Hyperplastic polyp

Summary of Adenoma and Hyperplastic polyp

  • Adenoma and hyperplastic polyps are both growths of glandular tissue.
  • Adenomas are much more likely to develop into malignancies.
  • Hyperplastic polyps are most often not cancerous.
  • Both adenomas and hyperplastic polyps are usually removed.


Do all adenoma polyps become cancer?

No, there is only a certain percentage, which varies from 5% to 25%  that becomes malignant. It also depends on the type of adenoma as to the likelihood of it becoming cancerous.

What is an adenoma?

An adenoma is a growth that can happen in certain glandular tissue found on various organs of the body, such as the pituitary, colon, or kidney.

Are hyperplastic colon polyps precancerous?

No, hyperplastic colons are not growths that usually become cancerous, while adenomas are precancerous growths.

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References :

[0]Nguyen, Minhhuyen. “Polyps of the Colon and Rectum”. Merck Manual, 2021, https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/tumors-of-the-gastrointestinal-tract/polyps-of-the-colon-and-rectum

[1]Rothstein, R. D., and M. Kochman. "Large hyperplastic polyps of the right colon." Gastrointestinal endoscopy 47.2 (1998): 211-212.

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