Although rare in the United States, paranasal sinus cancers are more common in Japan and among the Bantu people of South Africa. Doctors are not sure what causes these cancers, but they are more common among people who smoke tobacco or regularly inhale certain types of wood and metal dust. Human papillomavirus (HPV) Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes warts. Some types of HPV cause skin warts, and other types cause genital warts (growths in or around the vagina, penis, or rectum). Infection with some HPV... read more and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) Infectious Mononucleosis Epstein-Barr virus causes a number of diseases, including infectious mononucleosis. The virus is spread through kissing. Symptoms vary, but the most common are extreme fatigue, fever, sore throat... read more may sometimes play a role. Doctors do not think chronic sinusitis causes these cancers.
(See also Overview of Mouth, Nose, and Throat Cancers Overview of Mouth, Nose, and Throat Cancers Cancers of the mouth, nose, and throat develop in almost 65,000 people in the United States each year. These cancers are more common among men because male smokers continue to outnumber female... read more .)
Locating the Sinuses
Symptoms of Paranasal Sinus Cancer
Symptoms of paranasal sinus cancer result from the cancer pressing on nearby structures and include
A sensation of nasal obstruction
Ear pain or fullness
Facial numbness or tingling
Loosened upper teeth underneath the affected sinus
Most people do not develop symptoms until the cancer is well advanced, because the sinuses provide room for an early cancer to grow without pressing on nearby structures.
Diagnosis of Paranasal Sinus Cancer
Doctors do imaging studies (typically computed tomography Computed Tomography (CT) In computed tomography (CT), which used to be called computed axial tomography (CAT), an x-ray source and x-ray detector rotate around a person. In modern scanners, the x-ray detector usually... read more and magnetic resonance imaging) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) In magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a strong magnetic field and very high frequency radio waves are used to produce highly detailed images. MRI does not use x-rays and is usually very safe... read more to locate the tumor and describe its extent. To confirm the cancer, a doctor will do a biopsy by removing some tissue and examining it under a microscope. Doctors use a flexible viewing tube called an endoscope to see, biopsy, and sometimes remove a tumor.
Prognosis of Paranasal Sinus Cancer
The earlier paranasal sinus cancer is treated, the better the prognosis. However, survival is generally poor. Overall, about 60% of people with paranasal sinus cancer live more than 5 years.
Treatment of Paranasal Sinus Cancer
Doctors treat paranasal sinus cancer with a combination of surgery Surgery for Cancer Surgery is a traditional form of cancer treatment. It is the most effective in eliminating most types of cancer before it has spread to lymph nodes or distant sites (metastasized). Surgery may... read more and radiation therapy Radiation Therapy for Cancer Radiation is a form of intense energy generated by a radioactive substance, such as cobalt, or by specialized equipment, such as an atomic particle (linear) accelerator. Radiation preferentially... read more . Recent advances in surgical techniques have allowed doctors to remove some tumors completely through the nose using an endoscope. This can spare uninvolved parts of the face (such as the eye), resulting in better appearance and function after surgery. Radiation therapy is given following surgery if the tumor is likely to recur. Doctors may use radiation or chemotherapy Chemotherapy Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells. Although an ideal drug would destroy cancer cells without harming normal cells, most drugs are not that selective. Instead, drugs... read more as initial treatment when surgery would be ineffective or too difficult for certain tumors.
The following English-language resource may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.
American Cancer Society: Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers