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What is Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus cancer?

Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cavity Cancer occurs when malignant (cancerous) cells form inside the tissues of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses. This is considered a type of Head and Neck Cancer

Medical illustration of head and neck cancer regions.

The nasal cavity is just above the bone that forms the roof of your mouth, and it curves down at the back to join the throat. Your nose opens into the nasal cavity, which is divided into two nasal passages that allow air to pass through while breathing.

The paranasal sinuses are the air-filled spaces in the bones around your nose. The sinuses are lined with cells that make mucus, and this mucus keeps your nose from drying out while breathing.

Together, the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses filter and warm air to make it moist before the air enters your lungs.

What are the types of Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus cancer?

Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cavity Cancer. Squamous cells are found in many of the body’s tissues, including the skin, respiratory tract and lining of the paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity.

Other types of Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cavity Cancer or tumors include:

  • Melanoma - a cancer that starts in melanocytes (the cells that provide the skin with its color)
  • Sarcoma - a cancer that starts in muscle or connective tissue
  • Inverting papilloma - benign (non-cancerous) tumors that form inside the nose and can turn malignant (cancerous)
  • Midline granulomas - cancer in tissues that are in the middle part of the face

As with other cancers, Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cavity Cancer (which often can go undetected initially because early signs are difficult to pinpoint) has specific types. Additionally, cancer cells can spread to surrounding tissues, cartilage, bones or other parts of the body.

Prognosis and treatment options vary depending on each person’s own genetic makeup, location of the cancer cells and the stage of the cancer.

What are the risk factors for Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus cancer?

A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of developing a disease. Having risk factors, however, does not necessarily mean you will get cancer, so it’s important to know your own personal risk factors and discuss any concerns with your doctor.

Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cavity Cancer risk factors can be either environmental and/or genetic. For example, if you’re exposed to chemicals or dust at work (such as in furniture making, sawmill work, bakery work or shoemaking) you may be at higher risk.

Other risk factors include:

Prevention

Preventing or reducing your risk for Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cavity Cancer often involves changing your lifestyle behaviors and certain environmental exposures.

This includes:

  • Eliminating tobacco use
  • Reducing alcohol consumption
  • Avoiding exposure to chemicals such as asbestos, nickel, sulfuric acid and paint fumes
  • Taking safety precautions at work
  • Getting vaccinated for Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

At Miami Cancer Institute, our team of experts will discuss with you what tests are best for your personal needs as well as any additional steps you can take to lower your risk of developing the disease.

The specialists at Miami Cancer Institute are available to discuss Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cavity Cancer and any potential changes you can make to your diet, lifestyle or environmental influences to help decrease your risk of developing this (and other types) of cancer.

Have questions? We're here to help.

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