NASAL & SINUS CANCER

Nasal and sinus cancer affects the nasal cavity (above the roof of your mouth) and the sinuses (small, air-filled cavities inside your nose, behind your cheekbones and forehead). The area where the nose and throat connect is called the nasopharynx. A specific type of cancer, called nasopharyngeal cancer, affects this area.

The most common symptoms of nasal and sinus cancer are similar to viral or bacterial infections, such as the common cold or sinusitis, and include:

  • one-sided persistent blocked nose
  • nosebleeds (epistaxis)
  • a decreased sense of smell
  • mucus running from the nose or down the throat

Other symptoms often appear at a later stage, and include:

  • pain or numbness in the face, particularly the cheek or above the eye
  • enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
  • partial loss of vision or double vision
  • a bulging eye (proptosis)
  • severe headaches

DIAGNOSIS

  • History and Physical Examination
  • Diagnostic procedures
    • nasal endoscopy – where a long, thin, flexible tube with a camera and a light source is inserted through your nose to examine the area
    • imaging studies – such as a chest X-ray, CT scan or MRI scan
    • biopsy – this may be done during an endoscopy, or fine needle aspiration (FNA) may be used if there is a lump

 

RECOMMENDED MEDICATIONS

The best treatment for nasal and sinus cancer depends on several factors, including the stage of your cancer and your general health.

Treatment usually includes a combination of:

  • surgery – which can be performed using surgical incisions (open surgery) or as keyhole surgery through the nose (endoscopic microsurgery)
  • radiotherapy – using high-energy radiation to shrink a tumour before surgery or destroy small amounts of a tumour that may be left after surgery
  • chemotherapy – using medicine to help shrink a tumour before surgery or reduce the risk of the cancer returning after surgery
  • biological therapy – a newer type of medication known as monoclonal antibodies help to prevent cancer from spreading

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy can also be used to treat a tumour without surgery. In some cases, chemotherapy may be combined with radiotherapy.

Outlook

  • Cancer of the nasal cavity generally has a better outlook than cancer of the sinuses.
  • Overall, 35-60% of people with nasal and sinus cancer will live for at least five years after diagnosis. However, the outlook for nasal and sinus cancer can vary, depending on where the cancer is located and how far it has spread (the stage) before it is diagnosed and treated.
  • Nearly everyone who is diagnosed very early will live for at least five years afterwards. If the cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage, only 20-30% of people will live for at least five years after diagnosis.

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