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Understanding the Symptoms and Treatment for Sinus Cancer

This rare form of head and neck cancer occurs more frequently in older men

1063788461DAYTON, Ohio (Feb. 11, 2019) – The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) reports that about 2,000 people are diagnosed with nasal cavity or paranasal sinus cancer in the United States each year. Though it is relatively rare in comparison with other head and neck cancers, it is important to be aware of the symptoms, diagnosis, and path of treatment for this disease.

“Some of the symptoms and signs of sinus cancer can be a bloody nose, inner nasal congestion, and changes in the appearance of the face,” said Sameep Kadakia, MD, with Premier ENT Associates. “Patients can also have vision changes, as well as headaches depending on the size of the tumor. They can also sometimes experience a kind of numbness or tingling in the face.”

Patients displaying these symptoms should notify a physician who can provide a full examination of their sinuses, including an endoscopic evaluation. Any suspicious findings would then be followed by a CT scan along with a biopsy of the tissue to determine if cancer is present or not.  If cancer is detected, further tests would aim to find out how far advanced the disease has progressed to prescribe a treatment plan.

“Treatment really depends on the stage of the cancer,” said Dr. Kadakia, who practices with Premier Physician Network. “If it's something that's discovered very early on, then it can be successfully treated with surgery and reconstruction. If, however, the cancer is well advanced, then it may require radiation and chemotherapy.”

Dr. Kadakia said the majority of sinus cancers can be successfully treated with surgery, but such treatment often requires a combination of radiation and chemotherapy as well. Ultimately this depends on how far advanced and aggressive the cancer has become since it can grow into the bone or into other nearby compartments or structures if not discovered at an earlier stage. 

In some cases, symptoms do not always appear until the disease is at a more advanced stage; the spacious nature of human sinus cavities can often accommodate a larger tumor.

The exact causes for sinus cancer have not been fully determined, though it tends to occur more frequently among men at or above the age of 55.

“Many of sinus cancer’s risk factors are not very clearly delineated right now,” said Dr. Kadakia. “Unlike some of the other head, neck cancers, there's not necessarily a strong association with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) or smoking or alcohol. However, a possible link to a person’s prolonged exposure to certain chemicals or noxious fumes is more strongly suspected. This might include those who have worked in factories or have been around certain chemicals.”

For more information about sinus cancer or to schedule an appointment with a Premier Physician Network physician near you, visit PremierHealth.com/Schedule.

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