Sinus cancer is the growth of malignant (cancerous) cells behind the nose, called cavities and sinuses. It makes up about 3-5 per cent of all head and neck cancers and has long-lasting and devastating effects if ignored or left untreated.
In most cases, sinus cancer goes unnoticed until symptoms develop. When symptoms occur, they often mimic common benign conditions such as cold or flu.
Sinus cancers are divided or classified according to the type of cells involved. Those types include:
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Mucosa cell carcinoma
- Adenoid cystic cell carcinoma
- Acinic cell carcinoma
- Sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma
Sinus cancers may occur in various parts around the face such as:
- Nasal cavity
- Paranasal sinuses
- Maxillary sinus
- Ethmoid sinus
There are several factors such as smoking cigarettes and exposure to carcinogens that may increase the risk of developing sinus cancer. The following factors may increase the risk of sinus cancer:
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
- Smoking and tobacco use
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Exposure to high doses of radiation therapy, especially in the head and neck region
The symptoms of sinus cancer vary depending on where cancer develops and how significantly it spreads. The most common signs and symptoms of sinus cancer may include:
- Pain behind the nose, upper lip or cheek
- A mass in the neck beneath the skin
- Swelling around the eyes
- A persistent lump or sore inside the nose
- Changes in vision or vision loss
- Nasal drainage from one side of the nose
- Tearing from one eye
- Breathing difficulty due to nasal obstruction on one side of the nose
- Lump on the face or roof of the mouth
- Bleeding from nose that increase with frequency or amount
Apart from all these, sinus cancers may also cause symptoms that often accompany less serious conditions such as the common cold, including blocked sinuses and post-nasal drip.
The doctor may use the following to diagnose sinus cancer:
Biopsy, including incisional biopsy, excisional biopsy, fine-needle aspiration (FNA), endoscopic biopsy or open biopsy.
A physical examination with an endoscopy. Imaging tests such as CT scan, MRI, positron tomography (PET)/CT scan or X-ray.
The treatment of sinus cancer is determined by its type and severity. The doctor may use the following to treat the disease:
- Radiation therapy