Polyposis refers to a group of disorders that are associated with the growth of polyps anywhere within your child's gastrointestinal (GI) tract, including the stomach, small intestine and large intestine or colon. Most polyps in children are non-cancerous or benign. However, some children who develop polyps have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal cancers, as well as tumors and cancers in other parts of the body. The risk of cancerous growths increases with age and is most prevalent during adulthood.
Our expertise in polyp-forming conditions
The Boston Children's Hospital Pediatric Polyposis Program provides high-quality comprehensive care to children and families with gastrointestinal polyps. Our program aims to prevent or reduce complications of the disease, promote clinical and basic research and educate families and health care providers about polyp-forming conditions, including:
- familial adenomatous polyposis
- juvenile polyposis syndrome
- PTEN hamartoma tumor syndrome
- Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
We are the only pediatric-oriented program of its kind, located within a freestanding children's hospital. Our program includes a pediatric-based patient registry, updated clinical management guidelines and experts from allied disciplines who are committed to treating children with polyposis.
Comprehensive care for polyposis
Our team is made up of specialists from multiple departments.
Children are generally referred by their primary care physician or by another specialist to this gastroenterology (GI) program. The GI team consists of two pediatric gastroenterologists at Boston Children's and one adult gastroenterology consultant, based at Brigham and Woman's Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Outpatient pediatric consultations are conducted in the GI clinic in the Fegan Building. Adult family members who are at risk or affected by polyps may arrange for separate consultation with the adult gastroenterologist.
The Gastroenterology Procedure Unit is the primary site for pediatric endoscopy at Boston Children's. This is a full-service unit providing sedation or anesthesia as needed and offering all forms of diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy. Services include upper GI endoscopy, colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, pouchoscopy, video capsule endoscopy, small bowel enteroscopy, and advanced techniques for a polypectomy procedure and polyp ablation.
Gastrointestinal polyps may occur due to an inherited genetic condition. Multiple family members may be affected or at risk. Special DNA tests can be very helpful to identify these individuals. Consultation with a genetics counselor or a geneticist is an important part of an initial evaluation.
Surgery may be needed for polyps that are too difficult to remove with endoscopy alone or for high risk pre-cancerous conditions or for other complications. The surgical team consists of three pediatric surgeons. Our surgeons have special expertise in minimally invasive intestinal surgery including colectomy and additional expertise in tumor surgery.
Cancer prevention is an important focus of this polyposis program. Therefore, a senior faculty member from the pediatric provides consultation for clinical care and development of clinical practice guidelines.
Additional important members of the program staff include a research assistant and pediatric specialists from Dermatology, Endocrinology, Radiology, and Pathology. Other specialists are consulted on an as-needed basis, depending on special findings or circumstances.