Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

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Non-cancerous tumours of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses

There are several types of non-cancerous tumours of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses.

Non-cancerous tumours

A non-cancerous, or benign, tumour of the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses is a growth that does not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Non-cancerous tumours are not usually life-threatening. They are typically removed with surgery and tend to come back (or recur) as often as cancerous tumours.

Nasal polyps

Nasal polyps are the most common non-cancerous tumour of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses. They are abnormal growths of the mucosal lining of the nose and sinuses. Sometimes many polyps grow at the same time. This condition is called chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps.

Nasal polyps can cause:

  • stuffy, blocked or runny nose
  • loss of smell
  • loss of taste
  • headache
  • pressure in the head

Most nasal polyps develop when allergies, infection or other conditions make the mucosal lining of the nose or paranasal sinuses inflamed. Nasal polyps may also develop in people with asthma.

Nasal polyps are usually treated when they start to cause symptoms. Treatments include nasal steroid sprays, oral corticosteroid medicines, allergy medicines and sometimes antibiotics. Steroid and allergy medicines can help shrink polyps and prevent them from growing back. Antibiotics are used to treat an infection. Some people may need surgery to remove polyps if they are large or don’t go away with medicines.

Inverting papilloma

Inverting papilloma is a warty growth that is most common in men between the ages of 40 and 70. Some research suggests that inverting papillomas are linked to infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV).

This type of tumour is considered non-cancerous, but an inverting papilloma can be dangerous. It can destroy the surrounding bone or grow deeply into the tissues near the sinuses, including the brain.

In 5%–15% of cases, an inverting papilloma may develop into squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which is a cancerous tumour. Find out more about cancerous tumours of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses.

Because inverting papillomas can be dangerous and may become cancerous, doctors usually remove them with surgery using an endoscope. Follow-up includes endoscopy to look for signs of recurrence. This is done because an inverting papilloma comes back or grows into surrounding tissues in about 10%–20% of cases.

human papillomavirus (HPV)

A type of virus that causes abnormal tissue growth (warts) and other changes to cells.

There are over 100 types of HPV. Most types of HPV cause harmless warts on the hands, fingers, feet and even the face. Some types of HPV cause genital warts, are associated with an increased risk of several different types of cancer, including cancers of the cervix, oropharynx, anus, penis and vulva.


A thin, tube-like instrument with a light and lens used to examine or treat organs or structures in the body.

An endoscope can be flexible or rigid. It may have a tool to remove tissue for examination. Specialized endoscopes may have tools designed to examine or treat specific organs or structures in the body.

Specialized endoscopes are named for the organ or structure they are used to examine or treat.