Juvenile angiofibroma is a rare noncancerous (benign) tumor that grows in the back of the nose, in the same area where the adenoids are (see Fig. 2: Locating the Tonsils and Adenoids).
Juvenile angiofibroma occurs most commonly among adolescent boys. The tumor contains many blood vessels. It can grow slowly, spreading into the area around the brain and into the orbits of the eye.
Typically, the tumor causes a stuffy nose or headache, often with nosebleeds, which are sometimes very severe. The face may swell, or an eye may bulge. A mass may protrude from the nose, or the nose may become disfigured. If the tumor grows slowly, people may have few symptoms.
Doctors base the diagnosis on symptoms. It is confirmed by an imaging test such as computed tomography (CT) and usually angiography (x-rays of blood vessels taken after a dye is injected in the veins to outline them). A biopsy sample may be taken, but this can result in severe bleeding.
Usually, the tumor is surgically removed. Occasionally, radiation therapy is also used, especially if the tumor recurs.
Last full review/revision January 2009 by Robert J. Ruben, MD