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Paranasal Sinus Cancer


Bradley A. Schiff

, MD, Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital of Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Last full review/revision Jan 2021| Content last modified Jan 2021
Topic Resources

Paranasal sinus cancer is cancer originating in the paranasal sinuses, usually in the maxillary and ethmoid sinuses.

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 Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection 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 Infectious Mononucleosis may sometimes play a role. Doctors do not think chronic sinusitis causes these cancers.

Locating the Sinuses

Locating the Sinuses

Symptoms of Paranasal Sinus Cancer

Symptoms of paranasal sinus cancer result from the cancer pressing on nearby structures and include

  • Pain

  • A sensation of nasal obstruction

  • Double vision

  • Nosebleeds

  • 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

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

  • Surgery

  • Radiation therapy

  • Chemotherapy

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.

More Information

The following English-language resource may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.

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Test your knowledge
Nasal Congestion and Discharge
Nasal congestion and discharge are very common. They usually occur together but may occasionally occur separately. Several conditions can cause nasal congestion and discharge. Which of the following is the most common cause?
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