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Nasal and Sinus Polyps, Tumors and Masses

The doctors at Dallas Sinus Center off minimally invasive treatment options for Sinonasal Tumors, Nasal Polyps and Masses.

Nasal polyps are growths that occur within the nose and sinuses. They look like blisters of the tissue and when removed may look like small grapes. Polyps are sometimes seen in conjunction with allergies or sinusitis. They range in size from very small swellings that do not cause much trouble and sit on the outer ways of the sinuses. Other polyps may grow in key drainage points and even though small can lead to critical blockage. Larger polyps can completely fill the nasal cavity and be visible from the nostrils.

Sinus and nasal polyps are not like polyps in other parts of the body, such as the colon (large intestine). They are almost always benign and not a precursor to cancer. However, there are growths in the sinuses and nose that may look like polyps but can be precancerous or very rarely actually contain cancer. These masses are often on one side of the nasal cavity only, while most true benign nasal polyps are present in both sides. Polyps present in one nasal cavity but not on the other, should be biopsied or removed if they are suspicious.

A wart-like growth that looks similar to a polyp is called an inverted papilloma. These are most often benign, but do not respond to medications like steroids as being nasal polyps do. About 10% of inverted papillomas may be associated with sinus cancer.

What causes nasal polyps?

The exact cause of benign nasal polyps is unknown at this time. There are multiple factors that may contribute to the growth of nasal polyps. They often represent the final result of chronic inflammation. Allergies may contribute to their growth by causing chronic inflammation of the tissues. Patients with fungal sinus infections often have severe allergic reactions to the fungus and their sinuses may have the most extensive polyps.

Patients with asthma, which causes problems with the linings of the breathing passageways, are known to have a higher probability of having nasal polyps also. A hereditary component or cause for polyps may also be suspected in some patients. As an example, some cystic fibrosis patients have nasal polyps. In general, nasal polyps seem to occur more frequently in those with affected family members.

Content courtesy of AAO American Academy of Otolaryngology