There are different types of cancer affecting the nasal cavity and sinus. Read the article below to know more.
The nose opens into the nasal cavity that is divided into two nasal passages. The nasal cavity is located above the roof of the mouth and curves down at the back to join the throat. The area inside the nostrils is called a nasal vestibule.
The para sinuses are hollow, air-filled cavities around the nose. The sinuses, which are lined with cells, produce mucus that helps to keep the nose moist while breathing.
The nasal cancer and sinus cancer are diseases in which the cancerous cells are found in the nasal cavity or in the sinuses. There are various types of sinonasal cancers.
Squamous cell carcinoma.
Adenoid cystic carcinoma.
Sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma.
The nasal cavity or sinus cancer may be related to gene mutations or environmental factors. It may be due to the damage in the DNA within your cells. But the health experts are still not aware of the causes, but there can be various factors that contribute to nasal and sinus cancer. They include,
Age: Those people who are above 40 years of age are more likely to develop nasal and sinus cancers.
Gender: Nasal and sinus cancers occur twice as often in men as in women.
Smoking: It increases the risk of developing a number of cancers.
Alcohol: Excessive and frequent consumption of alcohol is a major risk factor for developing head and neck cancers.
Workplace: If you work in an area where you have to constantly breathe substances like dust, chemicals, any flour, nickel dust, mustard gas, glue fumes, formaldehyde fumes, or any solvent fumes could be at a higher risk of developing nasal and sinus cancers.
Air Pollution: People being constantly exposed to air pollution can be at higher risk of developing nasal and sinus cancer.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV): There are HPV (human papillomavirus)-associated nasal and sinus cancers. They are:
Squamous cell carcinoma.
Small cell carcinoma.
HPV-associated multi phenotypic carcinoma.
Sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma (SNUC).
People with nasal and sinus cancer may experience the following symptoms:
Nasal congestion or nasal obstruction.
Pain in the sinus region.
Chronic sinus infections which typically do not go away with antibiotic treatment.
Swelling in the face, eyes, or ears.
Loss of vision.
Reduced sense of smell.
Frequent runny nose.
Difficulty in opening the mouth.
Loosening of teeth.
A lump inside the nose that does not heal with medications.
There are times when people with nasal and sinus cancer do not show any symptoms, as the early stages of cancer do not show any symptoms. These symptoms can be noticed in the later stages of cancer. When cancer is diagnosed, relieving and easing the symptoms of cancer is a major part of cancer care. It may be palliative care or supportive care.
Early diagnosis of nasal and sinus cancer is one of the best successful treatment options. Some cancers in the early stages may show some symptoms, but it is not the case in all types of cancers.
Screening is a method which refers to tests and examinations to find out the disease like cancer or precancer in people who do not show any symptoms. Screening is used to detect cancer at the early stages. However, nasal and sinus cancers are rare, so there is no simple screening that can find nasal and sinus cancers early. Imaging tests such as X-rays, CT (computed tomography) scans, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans, PET (positron emission tomography) scans, and bone scans can be used to detect nasal and sinus cancer.
In a biopsy, a sample is taken from the suspected area and sent to the laboratory for examination. It is the only way to know if you have nasal or sinus cancer. If cancer is diagnosed, it also helps to determine what kind of cancer it is and how severe it is. This helps in planning the treatment plan. Different types of biopsies employed are:
Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAC).
Incisional and excisional biopsy.
3. There are also few pretreatment tests like,
Nutrition and speech tests.
There are different treatment options depending on the stage and severity of cancer.
Surgery of nasal cavity cancers, include;
Wide local excision.
Open medial maxillectomy.
Surgery for sinus cancers are:
Open external ethmoidectomy.
Open craniofacial resection.
Side Effects of Nasal and Sinus Surgery -
All surgeries pose some kinds of risks and complications. Similarly, nasal and sinus surgery has some risks such as:
There are some severe complications like
Leakage of the cerebral spinal fluid.
Weakness or numbness of the middle part of the face.
Spasm of the jaw muscles.
2. Radiation Therapy:
The type of radiation therapy that is used to treat nasal and sinus cancer are:
External beam radiation therapy (EBRT).
Side Effects of Radiation Therapy -
The common side effects of radiation therapy are:
Loss of appetite.
Chemotherapy is the treatment with anticancer drugs, which is either administered into the vein or given orally. These drugs reach the bloodstream and reach the various parts of the body.
There are different factors causing different types of cancer. There is no proven strategy to prevent nasal and sinus cancer. There are some ways you can follow to lower the risks of nasal and sinus cancer.
Maintain good hygiene.
Try to avoid using all types of tobacco products.
Avoid exposure to substances that are known to increase the risk of nasal and sinus cancer.
Every cancer treatment has its own side effects or brings changes to the body. But there are people who have received the same treatment but have not faced any side effects. Hence, you need to cope up with the treatment physically and mentally. Do not worry about the side effects and risks. Talking with your loved ones and taking their support will be of great help. Try to manage your fear and anxiety along with the cancer treatment.
Yes, nasal and sinus cancer are curable. Early detection plays an important role in prognosis. The five-year survival rate of nasal and sinus cancer is at 58 %. It is a rare form of cancer and affects predominantly men of age more than 50.
Nasal and sinus cancer is a very rare type of cancer affecting the male population of age more than 50 commonly. The chances of acquiring nasal and sinus cancer account for 3 % to 5 %. Cases detected in the early stages show a good prognosis.
Nasopharyngeal cancer affects the part of the throat connecting the pharynx. The first set of symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer is the feeling of a lump in the neck, hearing loss, bleeding nose, headaches, double vision, weight loss, stuffy nose, and ringing sounds in the ear (tinnitus).
Few nasal cancers can spread to the brain. The ethmoid sinus is located between the eye socket and the nasal cavity. Tumors involving this area can spread to the eye and affect the optic nerve. It also damages the base bone of the skull and spreads to the brain. Nasal cancer grows at a faster rate and spreads even faster.
Nasal cancers are always treated with surgery. In case the cancer has become severe, the surgery will be followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Epstein-Barr virus and human papillomavirus are known risk factors for nasal cancer apart from people constantly exposed to hardwood dust and formaldehyde.
Nasopharyngeal cancer does not show symptoms until it becomes severe. The most common signs of nasopharyngeal cancer are a few persistent lumps on the sides of the neck, pain in the face, nosebleeds, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and nasal congestion. Nasopharyngeal cancers are generally hard to diagnose, and it needs special equipment for the same.
Most common signs of sinus cancer are nosebleeds, persistent nasal congestion, running mucus with blood, headache, and pain in and around the eyes. It is a rare type of cancer accounting for only 3 % to 5 % of head and neck cancers in the United States.
Stage 4 sinus cancer is a serious form of cancer. It would have by now spread to the brain, frontal sinuses, sphenoid sinuses, or the skin. It is usually treated with surgery. In case the lymph nodes are enlarged, it will be surgically removed through neck dissection, which is usually followed by radiation and chemotherapy.
Spread of cancer to other parts of the body is commonly known as metastasis. The severity of the cancer is measured by its metastasis. Sinus cancer can spread to the brain, eyes, lungs, and liver. Sinus cancer is treated with surgery, followed by chemotherapy.
Last reviewed at:
04 May 2022 - 5 min read
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