Nasal Cavity & Paranasal Sinus: Patient Education

Cancer Facts

According to the American Cancer Society:

  • Cancers of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses are rare.
  • About 2,000 people in the United States develop cancer of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinus each year.

Nasal Cavity Cancer

Nasal cavity cancer is a group of malignant cells that starts in your nasal cavity.

Your nasal cavity is the passageway above the roof of your mouth, connecting your nose with the back of your throat.

Paranasal Sinus Cancer

Paranasal sinus cancer is a group of malignant cells that starts in one of your paranasal sinuses.

Your paranasal sinuses are cavities, or small tunnels, surrounding your nose.

The function of your paranasal sinuses is to:

  • Filter, warm and moisten the air you breathe
  • Give your voice timbre and resonance
  • Reduce the weight of your skull

Your paranasal sinuses include:

  • Frontal sinuses – above your eyebrows
  • Maxillary sinuses –below your eyes, on either side of your nose
  • Sphenoid sinuses – deep behind your nose, between your eyes
  • Ethmoid sinuses –above your nose, between your eyes

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Kinds of Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancers

Different kinds of cancers begin in the different kinds of cells in your nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses. They often require different treatments. Your physician will discuss treatment options and prognosis for cure with you.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  • Begins in the squamous epithelial cells (lining the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses)
  • Most common type of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

Adenocarcinomas and Mucoepidermoid Cancers

  • Begins in the gland cells
  • About 10 to 20 percent of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers

Undifferentiated Carcinoma

  • Begins in the mucosa cells
  • About 7 percent of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers

Malignant Melanoma

  • Begins in the melanocytes (cells that color the skin)
  • About 7 percent of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers

Esthesioneuroblastoma

  • Begins in the nerve for your sense of smell
  • About 7 percent of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers

Malignant Lymphoma

  • Begins in the lymphocytes
  • Rare

Sarcoma

  • Begins in the bone, muscle or cartilage
  • Rare

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Related Resources

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