Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer

What is cancer of the paranasal sinus and nasal cavity?
Cancer is the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissue. Cancer of the paranasal sinus and nasal cavity is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the tissues of the paranasal sinuses or nasal cavity.

The paranasal sinuses are small hollow spaces around the nose. The sinuses are lined with cells that make mucus, a substance that keeps the nose from drying out. The maxillary sinuses are air-filled bony cavities that are located above the teeth, and below the eyes. The ethmoid sinuses are located in the space between the eye sockets and above the nose. The nasal cavity is the passageway just behind the nose through which air passes on the way to the throat during breathing. The area inside the nose is called the nasal vestibule.

What are the risk factors for paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer?
Smoking increases the likelihood that a person will develop paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer. In addition, occupational risk factors can make a person more likely to develop this form of cancer. Occupational exposure to dusts from wood, textiles, and other substances have been linked to cases of paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer. Additional substances including glues, formaldehyde, nickel and chromium dust, mustard gas and radium have been linked to paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer.

What are the symptoms of paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer?
Some of the symptoms below might be signs of paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer or of other conditions. These symptoms include:

How is paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer diagnosed?
If there are symptoms, a doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical exam. The exam might include the doctor’s checking of the nose with a special telescope-like instrument called a nasal endoscope. Other tests might include:

What are the stages of paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer?
Following are the stages for maxillary sinus cancer, which is the most common kind of sinus cancer:

Stage 0 — In this stage, cancer is found in the innermost lining of the maxillary sinus only. Stage 0 cancer is also called carcinoma in situ.

Stage I — In this stage, the cancer is found in the mucous membranes of the maxillary sinus.

Stage II —  Cancer has spread to bone around the maxillary sinus, including the roof of the mouth and the nose, but not to bones at the back of the maxillary sinus or the base of the skull.

Stage III — In stage III, cancer is found in any of the following places:

Stage IV – This stage, which includes three parts, involves the spread of cancer to areas including:

The following stages are used for nasal cavity and ethmoid sinus cancer:

Stage 0 — In stage 0, cancer is found in the innermost lining of the nasal cavity or ethmoid sinus only. Stage 0 cancer is also called carcinoma in situ.

Stage I — In this stage, cancer is found in only one area (of either the nasal cavity or the ethmoid sinus) and might have spread into bone.

Stage II — This stage involves the location of cancer in the nasal cavity or the ethmoid sinus. Cancer might have spread to a nearby area and possibly into bone.

Stage III — In stage III, cancer is found in any of the following places:

Stage IV — Stage IV is divided into three parts. During this stage, cancer can be found in:

How is cancer of the paranasal sinus and nasal cavity treated?
Following are treatments that are used for cancer of the paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity:

If cancer is found in the nose (nasal vestibule), treatment might be one of the following:

If cancer is found in the maxillary sinus, treatment might be one of the following:

Can cancer of the paranasal sinus and nasal cavity be prevented?
Many people with cancer of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses have no known risk factors, so there is no way to prevent all of the cancers.

People who smoke can reduce their risk, however, by no longer using tobacco products. People who work with potentially harmful substances should find out if they are being protected from harmful exposure to those substances.

What is the prognosis (chance of recovery) for someone with paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer?
The prognosis depends on where the cancer is in the sinuses, whether the cancer is just in the area where it started or has spread to other tissues (the stage), and the patient's general state of health. Five-year survival rates for people with nasal cavity and sinus cancer range from 11 percent for people with advanced cancers to almost 100 percent for people with very small cancers that have not spread and are found and treated early.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional health information, please contact the Center for Consumer Health Information at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771. If you prefer, you may visit www.clevelandclinic.org/health/ or www.clevelandclinicflorida.org. This document was last reviewed on:

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