Nose and Sinus Cancers

Nose and Sinus cancers include cancers that occur inside of the nose, or the nasal cavity as well as the sinus, which are air-filled spaces in the face taht are located adjacent to the nasal cavity.  Even skins cancers that occur on the face may grow inward to involve this region.  These are called sinonasal cancers.  Sinonasal cancers often need to be evaluated with nasal endoscopy (cameras that are placed inside the nose) and imaging with either a CT or MRI in order to understand the full extent of the tumour.

Depending on multiple factors, including the type, size and location of the tumour, the treatment will likely involve endoscopic or open surgery and possibly additional treatment with radiation and/or chemotherapy.

Of all sinonasal cancers, maxillary sinus cancers are the most common, followed closely by cancers of the nasal cavity and ethmoid sinus cancer.  Most cancers in this region are squamous cell cancers. However, there are several tumours in this region that are benign (non-cancerous), including:

  • Papilloma
  • Pyogenic granuloma
  • Adenoma
  • Dermoid
  • Glioma
  • Fibroma
  • Osteoma
  • Chrondroma
  • Hemangioma
  • Neurofibroma
  • Lymphangioma

Technology has helped us diagnose these cancers better. Doctors can use nasal endoscopy (telescopes and cameras inside the nose) to see areas we can’t see just by looking in the front of the nose. Also, advances in MRI and CT scanning help us look at the anatomy inside the head much better. Finally, functional tests like PET scans may also help with diagnosis and extent of cancers in this region. We also have many more tools to treat cancers in this complex area, which has several important structures nearby.

Here are some facts about sinonasal cancers:

  • Are less than 1 percent of all cancers
  • Are approximately 3 percent of head and neck cancers
  • Age: Usually older than 45 years old
  • Race: Caucasians more than other races
  • Gender: Males more than females