What would be the correct term to use to cover polyps, benign and malignant growths? Covering both Hyperplasia and Dysplasia I guess...

  • The name of an investigation for colonic polyps?
    – Jan
    Jul 30, 2018 at 7:59
  • No, I'm just seeking an overarching term to cover abnormal growth, both neoplastic and non-neoplastic (benign, pre-cancerous and malignant) Jul 30, 2018 at 8:57

2 Answers 2


Dysplasia describes abnormal cell morphology or differentiation without the proliferation rate being affected. Dysplasias can result in an increased number of one type of cell as a result of another type of cell being reduced in number (e.g. because the first type is failing to differentiate into the second, but not because any cell is proliferating more than usual).

Hyperplasia describes increased cell proliferation which results from an adequate response to a growth signal. This includes for example red blood cell hyperplasia as a result of hypoxic environment or erythropoietin treatment.

Neoplasia covers all forms of abnormal cell proliferation. Unlike a hyperplasia, neoplastic cells proliferate regardless of growth signal presence or absence. If the neoplastic cells are adhesive, they may stay together as a lump and form a tumour. If they invade other tissues, they are malignant and also called cancer.

Polyps are abnormal "growths", i.e. appendages grown from a tissue that do not normally occur. Usually, the tissue that has grown itself is not abnormal; rather, there are abnormal amounts of a signal instructing the tissue to grow. In this case, the polyp is usually hyperplastic (increased cell number), and sometimes also hypertrophic (increased cell size). Polyps can progress to neoplasms, usually first benign, and at late stages malignant.

The only term describing both hyper- and neoplasias is "hyperproliferation", which is not a medical term. This still doesn't include dysplasia, and I can't think of a term that would. Maybe "non-nascent cell behaviours"...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dysplasia has a quick overview of -plasias and -trophies.


The all-inclusive term for abnormal growths is neoplasm or, in Latin, neoplsia:

Neoplasia is new, uncontrolled growth of cells that is not under physiologic control.

Abnormal growths can be:

  • Benign: growing but not spreading or destroying nearby tissues
  • Malignant: invading nearby tissues or spreading to distant organs

The term tumor refers to any abnormal localized mass of tissue, either benign or malignant.

The term polyp covers all tumors that grow from the mucous membranes and project into the lumen of an organ.

  • Mmm, what about blood cancer? Jul 30, 2018 at 9:30
  • Blood cancer is an example of "abnormal growth" as they are all other examples mentioned so far. The Latin term is neoplasia.
    – Jan
    Jul 30, 2018 at 10:03

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