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nasal polypNasal Polyps are outgrowths of the lining of the nasal cavity or sinuses. They appear as translucent, round, pale and gelatinous swellings within the nasal cavity or in the bony recesses of the nose. Unlike polyps that occur elsewhere, such as in the colon, there is no potential for them to become malignant or cancerous. They are associated with chronic  sinus infection and allergy, although their true cause is not known. Nasal polyps can be associated with allergy to aspirin and with cystic fibrosis.

Chronic nasal blockage that does not improve with allergy therapy or with  treatment of a sinus infection may be due to undiagnosed nasal polyps. All patients with chronic nasal obstruction or loss of sense of smell should have an endoscopic examination to look for polyps or other anatomical problems.  Treatment usually requires a nasal steroid spray, oral steroids and antibiotics. Response to medical therapy is usually fair and many people ultimately require surgical removal if symptoms cannot be controlled with medication. Recurrence of nasal polyps is common after surgery, especially if underlying environmental allergies have not been identified or adequately treated.

Inverting papillomas are a more serious nasal malady and can be confused with common polyps. They are most common in children. There is evidence to suggest they are caused by viruses. They tend to occur on the wall of the nasal cavity but unlike common polyps, they may erode into the sinuses and have the ability to undergo malignant transformation. Surgical resection is necessary to rule out malignancy. Recurrence rate is about fifteen per cent.