Cancers of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cavities are rare, with only about 2,000 cases in the United States each year. Symptoms and signs of these types of cancer can also indicate other medical problems; thus, having them checked out by a doctor is always a good idea.
The nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses are lined by mucosa, a layer of mucus-producing tissue. The mucosa has many types of cells including squamous, glandular, nerve, blood vessel and infection-fighting cells. Any of these cells can become cancerous, with each type of cancer growing differently.
Possible symptoms of nasal and paranasal sinus cancer vary widely. They include:
Ear, nasal and sinus symptoms
- Nasal congestion that worsens or doesn’t improve
- Pain above or below the eyes
- Blockage on one side of the nose
- Post-nasal drip
- Pus drainage from the nose
- Decreased sense of smell
- Pain or pressure in ears
Face and eyes
- Face or teeth numbness
- Growth/mass in the face, nose, or palate
- Watery eyes or bulging of one eye
- Loss or change in vision
- Difficulty opening mouth
Some people are at higher risk for developing nasal or paranasal sinus cancer. People who breathe in certain substances while at work or those who smoke are at an increased risk. Additionally, some types of HPV (human papilloma virus) have been linked to some cancers in the nasal cavity and sinuses.
Treatment options for nasal and paranasal sinus cancer vary depending on the cancer’s stage and location. For stage one and two diagnoses, surgery is most often done, followed by radiation treatment.
Many of the above-mentioned symptoms are indicative of other conditions. If you experience any of the symptoms for a steady period of time, schedule an appointment with an ENT for a thorough evaluation.