The endoscopic approach worked well not only to remove large inverted papillomas in 18 patients ages 36 to 74 but also to watch for regrowth of the tumors that have a high recurrence rate and a small chance of becoming cancer. Patients were treated as outpatients and 56 percent remained disease-free at 29 months.
"If there is a chance to cure benign disease using minimally invasive techniques, it always works best for the patient," says Dr. Stil E. Kountakis, vice chair of the Medical College of Georgia Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and director of the Georgia Sinus and Allergy Center. "Endoscopic techniques allow you to support the ancient dictum of do no harm and, at the same time, provide care to the patient."
Like a crawling vine, inverted papillomas grow slowly but steadily along the lining of the sinuses, taking root along the way. The cause is unknown but inverted papillomas are associated with the contagious, wart-producing human papillomavirus; trauma and irritation of the nasal lining are suspects as well, Dr. Kountakis says. Males tend to be at higher risk; 14 of the patients profiled in the September/October issue of the American Journal of Rhinology are male.
"Without treatment, it can grow big," says Dr. Kounakis, corresponding author on the study. "Tumors may come from the wall of the sinuses behind the cheekbone that is next to the nose. They can spread out into the sinuses between the eyes. They can go over the surface of the eye socket, go up to the skull base. It's a slow-growing tumor but it's a destructive tumor."
Patients may complain of nasal obstruction, or primary care physicians may notice the growths on annual exams. Once found, a computerized tomography scan helps determine the extent of the tumor.