Causes of Sinonasal Cancer

Currently, there is no definitive cause of nasal cancer. It’s a combination of genetics and environmental factors. However, listed below are a few known risk factors for developing nasal cancer. Similar to other head and neck cancers, tobacco smoke seems to be a risk factor for sinonasal cancers, although to a lesser extent. Exposure to certain workplace chemicals seems to be the largest risk factor for certain types of sinonasal cancers. Workers who may be at increased risk include:

  • Nickel workers (including nickel refineries, cutlery factories and battery manufacturing).
  • Chromium workers (including chrome plating and chromium production).
  • Leather workers.
  • Wood workers.

Signs & Symptoms

Nasal cancer can present in many different ways, depending on where the cancer is located. For early cancers, there might not be any symptoms, or symptoms may seem just like allergies, sinusitis, or nasal polyps. As a general rule, if a doctor sees a nasal polyp or some abnormality on only one side of the nose, he or she might be more suspicious that it could be cancer.

Common Symptoms

  • Nasal obstruction.
  • Sinus pain, pressure and infections.
  • Change or loss of sense of smell.
  • Bleeding from the nose, particularly if only on one side.

When cancers in this area get larger, the symptoms will depend on what nearby structures are involved.

  • A tumor growing out of the nose.
  • Change in vision or double vision.
  • Pain
  • Recurrent sinus infections.
  • Numbness in the cheek and/or upper teeth.
  • Growth in the roof of the mouth.
  • Brain infection (meningitis or encephalitis).

It is important to note that a patient could have one or more of these symptoms but NOT have a sinonasal cancer. There are several non-cancerous causes of the same symptoms. That’s why it’s important to see a specialist.