Nasal Mass

What is a nasal mass?

A nasal mass is any abnormal growth that can be found in the nose. The growth can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), in one side or both sides of the nose, and may be present at birth or develop later in life. Generally, nasal masses in children are uncommon.

What causes it?

Often times, we do not know the cause of nasal masses found in children. Some types of nasal masses that we treat include:

  • Nasal polyps: Grape-like growths in the lining of the nose, which can cause obstruction of the nose. These are frequently found in patients with cystic fibrosis.
  • Nasal cysts: At birth, infants can have a dilation of the tear duct which travels in the nose, called the nasolacrimal duct, forming a cyst.
  • Nasal tumors: Rarely, the nose can develop benign or malignant tumors that arise from the lining of the nose or the sinuses. Uncommonly, tumors can arise from neighboring structures and extend into the nose.
  • Juvenile Nasopharyngeal Angiofibroma (JNA): This is a specific type of benign tumor that is more common in pre-pubescent and adolescent males that can cause recurrent nose bleeding.

Why is it a concern?

Nasal masses are abnormal growths that can be the source of pain, rhinorrhea (runny nose), obstruction, bleeding, or destruction of local anatomy left untreated.

How do we evaluate it?

Your child may be asked to see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist (Otolaryngologist), who will get a complete history and examine the front of the nose, and just along the inside. A speculum may be used for a better view of the nose, and in some cases, a flexible fiberoptic camera may be used to evaluate the entire nasal cavity to the very back of the nose (nasopharynx). This can be done in clinic without the need for general anesthesia. Sometimes, further studies need to be done, such as a CT scan (computerized tomography), or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).  At times, biopsies will need to be performed to help make a tissue diagnosis to help identify the type of mass.

How is it treated?

Depending on the type of mass, treatment can range from watchful waiting, medical therapies to surgery.

What are the long-term effects?

Depending on the type of mass, the long-term effects can vary. If the mass results in nasal obstruction, over time this can impact a child’s quality of life and sleep quality. Rarely, growth of the mass can affect facial development in the child. Nasal obstruction and rhinorrhea (runny nose) from the mass may impact the health of the ears and hearing, as the drainage pathway for the middle ear is through the back of the nose. Nasal tumors that continue to grow can bleed and damage nearby structures.