There are different kinds of gallbladder polyps and this includes cancer.

If it’s been discovered that you have a polyp in your gallbladder, should you panic and assume it’s cancer or will eventually turn malignant?

There are no grounds for panicking or making this assumption, as there are several types of polyps associated with this organ.

“Gallbladder polyps are outgrowths of the gallbladder mucosal wall that are usually found incidentally on ultrasonography or after cholecystectomy,” says Akram Alashari, MD, abdominal surgeon and critical care physician, Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Florida.

Two Classes of Gallbladder Polyps

“They are classified as benign or malignant, and benign lesions are further classified as non-neoplastic (e.g., cholesterol and inflammatory polyps, adenomyomas) or neoplastic (e.g., adenomas, leiomyomas),” says Dr. Alashari.

Don’t be unnerved by the “oma” suffix here. “Oma” is the medical term for mass—but the mass can be benign.

“The most common benign neoplastic lesion is an adenoma, a glandular tumor composed of cells resembling biliary tract epithelium.

“It is unclear whether adenomatous polyps represent a premalignant lesion and if so, the frequency with which they progress to carcinoma.”

Unlike gallbladder cancer (GBC), gallbladder polyps tend not to occur in patients with cholelithiasis’ chronic inflammation is generally absent, and cancer-related molecular changes that are seen in GBCs have not been identified in adenomas.

“Nevertheless, larger polyps are more likely to contain foci of invasive cancer, and some studies suggest a correlation between the presence of gallbladder polyps and the risk of GBC.”