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The paranasal sinuses are small, hollow spaces surrounding the nose. These sinuses are lined with cells that produce mucus to keep the nasal passages moist. Sometimes, though, malignant tumors can grow in the paranasal sinuses, resulting in paranasal sinus cancer. Patients in early-stage paranasal sinus cancer often do not report any symptoms, but as the tumors grow, patients can experience symptoms that are similar to sinusitis. These symptoms include:

  • Persistent nasal congestion
  • Frequent sinus headaches
  • Facial pain or swelling
  • Chronic sinus infections that don’t respond to antibiotic treatment
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Teeth pain
  • Chronic runny nose
  • Fatigue

Types of paranasal sinus cancer

Paranasal sinus cancer can take many forms depending on what type of cell the malignant tumors originate in. These include:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma. The most common type of cancer in the nasal cavity, squamous cell carcinoma forms from squamous epithelial cells.
  • Melanoma. While melanoma is typically found in areas of the body exposed to sunlight, melanocytes are a type of cell that can grow in the nasal cavity and cause paranasal sinus cancer.
  • Sarcoma. This cancer grows in the connective tissues of the nasal cavity.
  • Esthesioneuroblastoma. This tumor starts in the olfactory nerve, which is responsible for smell.
  • Lymphoma. Growing from immune system cells called lymphocytes, lymphoma can be a type of paranasal sinus cancer.
  • Adenocarcinomas. These are malignant tumors that grow from minor salivary gland cells.
  • Undifferentiated carcinoma. This cancer forms in the mucosa cells and is fast-growing.

Moffitt’s approach to treating paranasal sinus cancer

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we know that the cancer journey looks different for every patient and every family. That’s why the multispecialty team within our Neuro-Oncology Program takes an individualized approach to diagnosis and treatment for paranasal sinus cancer. Commonly, paranasal sinus cancer requires surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible along with radiation therapy and chemotherapy to destroy any lingering cancer cells. You’ll have the expertise of medical oncologists, neurosurgeons, head and neck cancer surgeons, neuropathologists, neurological oncologists and other specialists throughout your journey. We also have supportive care services available to help you and your family through the emotional and spiritual components of cancer treatment.

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Michael Vogelbaum, Program Leader, Department of Neuro-Oncology.

If you would like to arrange a consultation with one of our paranasal sinus cancer specialists, contact Moffitt Cancer Center today by calling us at 1-888-663-3488 or submitting a new patient registration form online.